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Maintaining Your PC

Learn the most basic steps to keep your computer humming

All the wonderful hardware that you've spent your hard-earned money on doesn't mean a thing if the software driving it goes flooey. If any programs cause your system to crash (meaning it freezes up and you have to take drastic measures to revive it), you can try a variety of tasks to fix it. You can also keep your system in good shape to help you avoid those crashes. In this article, you learn how to:

  • Shut down a crashed program.
  • Restart in Safe Mode if your PC isn’t responding to your clicks and typing.
  • Clean up your system to delete unused files.
  • Free up disk space.
  • Use Internet Explorer to remote temporary Internet files.


Shut Down a Nonresponsive Application

1.    If your computer freezes and won't let you proceed with what you were doing, press Ctrl+Alt+Del.

2.     In the Windows screen that appears, click Start Task Manager.

3.    In the resulting Windows Task Manager dialog box, click the Applications tab and select the application that you were in when your system stopped responding.

half frozen laptop

- Michel Tcherevkoff

4.    Click the End Task button.

5.     In the resulting dialog box, the Windows Task Manager tells you that the application isn’t responding and asks whether you want to shut it down now. Click Yes.

Start Windows in Safe Mode

1.    Remove any CDs or DVDs from your computer to start Windows in a mode that loads only the most vital files, allowing you to get started and fix problems (for example, by performing a system restore to a time before the problems).

2.    Choose Start, click the arrow on the right of the Shut Down button and then choose Restart to reboot your system.

3.    When the computer starts to reboot (the screen goes black), begin pressing F8.

4.    If you have more than one operating system, you might see the Windows Boot Manager menu. Use the up- and down-arrow keys to select the Windows 7 operating system. Or, type the number of that choice, press Enter and then continue to press F8.

5.    In the resulting Advanced Boot Options window (a plain vanilla, text-based screen), press the up- or down-arrow key to select the Safe Mode option from the list and then press Enter.

6.    Log in to your computer with administrator privileges; a Safe Mode screen appears. Use the tools in the Control Panel and the Help and Support system to figure out your problem, make changes and then restart. When you restart again (repeat Step 2), let your computer start in the standard Windows 7 mode.

Defragment a Hard Drive

1.    To clean up files on your hard drive, choose Start, Control Panel, System and Security, and then click Defragment Your Hard Drive in the Administrative Tools window.

2.    In the resulting Disk Defragmenter window, to the left of the Defragment Disk button is the Analyze Disk button. Use this to check whether your disk requires defragmenting. When the analysis is complete, click the Defragment Disk button. A notation appears  showing the progress of defragmenting your drive.

Use the Analyze Disk button to check whether your disk requires defragmenting.

3.    When the defragmenting process is complete, the Disk Defragmenter window shows that your drive no longer requires defragmenting. Click Close to close the window and then close the Control Panel.

Free Disk Space

1.    To run a process that cleans unused files and fragments of data off of your hard drive to free up space, choose Start, Control Panel, System and Security, and then click Free Up Disk Space in the Administrative Tools.

2.    In the Disk Cleanup dialog box that appears, choose the drive you want to clean up from the drop-down list and click OK. Disk Cleanup calculates how much space you will be able to free up.

3.    The resulting dialog box tells you that Disk Cleanup calculated how much space can be cleared on your hard drive and displays the suggested files to delete in a list (those to be deleted have a check mark). If you want to select additional files in the list to delete, click to place a check mark next to them.

4.    After you select all the files to delete, click OK. The selected files are deleted. Click the Close button to close the Control Panel.

Delete Temporary Internet Files by Using Internet Explorer

1.    When you roam the Internet, various files may be downloaded to your computer to temporarily allow you to access sites or services. To clear these away, first open Internet Explorer.

2.    Choose Tools, Internet Options.

3.    On the General tab of the resulting Internet Options dialog box, click the Delete button in the Browsing History section.

4.    In the resulting Delete Browsing History dialog box, click the Temporary Internet Files checkbox to select it if it’s not already selected and click Delete.

5.    A confirmation message asks whether you want to delete the files. Click Yes. Click Close and then click OK to close the open dialog boxes.

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