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Special note: Before running the next two programs, you should eliminate any running programs by doing a Ctrl-Alt-Del. Close all programs first. Then do the Ctrl-Alt-Del and select one item other than Explorer and systray. Click End Program. Do Ctrl-Alt Del again and select the next item. Close all these except Explorer and systray before starting Scandisk and Defrag. Some programs must be selected more than once to End them. Some bring up a second box and you click End a second time. When you get these all done, then start the following procedures. Note: Ctrl-Alt-Del works very different in XP. You probably won't see any running programs here, but in XP it is not necessary to do this.
It is not necessary to do this, but you get a more complete cleanup with nothing running and some computers have so much running that these programs won't finish properly until the running programs are shut off. You might be surprised how much junk is running in the background. To eliminate some of them, look for my article on using msconfig in 98/ME. This tool was added in 98 and was one good reason to upgrade. Shutting off the TSR's in 95 was a job for only the experienced user.
One more thing: Scandisk and Defrag should be run on a brand new computer with preloaded programs. The factory just copies the programs from one master hard drive and it is usually a mess. Also look at the report on Scandisk. If any bad sectors show up, return the computer or ask for a warranty replacement. You should have NO bad sectors on a new computer. If you start to see some later on, it may be a warning of impending failure. BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP ANY IMPORTANT FILES. You should be doing this anyway, but who does.
Warning: Microsoft says to back up any important files before running these programs. They are not responsible for any loss of data due to running their programs. It is still a buyer beware market. I have never had a loss of data from running Scandisk and Defrag, however if you have a power drop at the wrong time while reorganizing, it's a little like having an earthquake while trying to reorganize the garage. You have no idea what can fall. The best protection is to install a power backup. A UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) is available for $100 to $200 and provides continuous operation on battery power for a short time and includes software to shut down programs in the event of a power failure. Good insurance.
This is a program supplied with Windows (all versions) and is accessible many ways. There are other programs like Norton utilities that have a similar program. This article teaches the beginner how to use the programs supplied with Windows and does not provide instruction on using programs outside Windows. Some claim these other programs have benefits and the programs supplied with Windows have serious faults. I do not agree with these views and leave the use of these other programs to the experienced users.
The purpose of this program is to find and fix problems on your storage disks and most often is used for the hard drive(s). When files are stored on a disk, the file is placed in a small section identified by coordinates, similar to storing books in a library. In order for the librarian or a visitor to find a book, the location is entered in a card file (now computerized). The computer operates in a similar manner. A file is stored and an entry made in the card file called a FAT or File Allocation Table. Then when the computer needs a file, it queries the FAT and goes to the noted location to retrieve the file.
The problems come when files occupy a space and no entry exists for it in the FAT or there is a FAT entry and nothing is in the noted location. Scandisk compares FAT and Location. If it finds places where they disagree, it can correct the problem. This is an oversimplification, but it should give you an idea of what this program does. It corrects some other problems also.
Later Windows versions 98/ME will run Scandisk automatically when the computer crashes and is rebooted. It should still be run as a part of this articles instruction because You will learn how to customize the settings next.
To Run Scandisk: Again, more than one way;
Method 1: Start, Program Files, Accessories, System Tools, Scandisk (Win 95, skip System Tools)
Method 2: Open My Computer or Windows Explorer, Right click on the C drive, Choose Properties See Fig 10. Choose the tools tab. See fig 11. The top item is Scandisk (even though it doesn't say so) When you activate it, the new dialog box is titled Scandisk. Fig 11 shows the box in ME. 95 & 98 included a third element for backup. For this article, we only use the Scandisk and Defrag which is discussed after Scandisk.
Click Check Now to start the process. You get the Scandisk dialog box. See fig 12. Before starting Scandisk the first time, make the following changes: First check the box for Automatically Fix Errors. Select Standard. (You can run Thorough occasionally, but it takes hours) Then click Advanced. See fig 13.
In the Advanced Options box, my preferences are shown with the top selection in each section. Describing what these items are gets technical and is beyond the scope of this article. Just know that cross-linked files lost fragments are useless and should be deleted. If you don't trust or like these choices, feel free to become more educated about them and make your own selections.
Short for Disk Defragmenter. This program is supplied with all versions of Windows. It is activated by the same methods as Scandisk. See Fig 10 and 11. Activate the Defragment Now button in the C Properties dialog box or access it through the Start menu. The first question you must answer is what drive to defrag. Most of you only have a C drive and that is the one that should be done frequently. If you have other hard drives, defrag then occasionally.
Defrag does just what it says. It takes fragmented files and removes the fragmentation. Later versions of Windows also reorganize the files to be more efficient, placing the most often used ones in a location that allows fastest access. To picture what defrag does, think of a garage, workshop or kitchen where the tools and parts are scattered all over and disorganized. When you use a tool or part and are through with it, you just drop it in any open space. That's the way the computer stores files. It just finds the first open space and drops it, then tells the FAT where it is. It knows where every file is and will often tell you no defrag is needed. Ignore it and do it anyway.
Ever see a disorganized desk with a sign "Don't move anything. I know where everything is!"? Well that is the computers attitude. It doesn't care if it takes 2 microseconds longer to do a job. You probably won't see a visible difference in running speed after doing this, but it does make it more efficient and saves wear and tear on bearings in the hard drive. Again, it really doesn't matter too much since most hard drives will be replaced by an upgrade before they wear out anyway. Some do fail prematurely and this might help preserve it a little longer.
Now to the task: Start defrag. Click OK on the question of what drive to defrag. At this point, you can go to bed. It can take hours to finish, especially if you haven't done it for a long time.
If you want to see what it is doing, click the Details button and watch it do it's thing. See Fig 14. First it checks for errors. If it finds any, it tells you to run Scandisk and fix the errors. This is when you should run Scandisk in Thorough mode. After Defrag checks for errors, you will see a map of the hard drive and the action of reorganizing the files. To see what the colors mean, click the Legend button. When the program is done, you are asked if you want to quit. Answer yes unless you want to do another drive.
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step is to add a folder on the desktop to access these cleanup items quickly.
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