MU stacked logo with embedded link to the university's home page

Extension Technology and
Computer Services


University of Missouri-Columbia   Extension Technology and Computer Services—ETCS

November 2002
  Vol. 19, No. 5

A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists



    About ETCS
    ETCS Staff
    Help Desk
    S Drive
    Contact ETCS
Search for
IC Articles:

Computer House Cleaning
by Joe Lear and
Jill Dourty

Some problems with computers can be avoided by just doing a little cleanup and preventative maintenance. Performing the following jobs on a weekly basis will help you keep your computer operating at its best.

Deleting Temporary Files:

Temporary files are created by programs as you create and edit files and the operating system performs its function. These files do not always get removed and they can interfere with your computer's operation if they are not removed regularly.

To Remove Temporary files:

  1. Close all programs such as Word, Outlook, Internet Explorer, and any other programs.
  2. Click the Start button, and then click Run from the Start Menu.

  3. Type in C:\WINDOWS\TEMP on Windows ME/98/95 machines and TEMP on Windows 2000 and XP machines.

  4. The Temp Directory window should appear.

  5. Click once in the open window to make sure it is selected. Press the CTRL+A keys to highlight all the files and folders in the directory.

  6. Press and hold the SHIFT key while pressing the DELETE key.

  7. Click YES to ALL when asked to delete read-only or files that end in *.exe.

  8. When all the files are deleted close the Temp folder window.

Deleting Temporary Internet Files:

As you surf the web, Internet Explorer keeps a copy of the web pages to help speed up your surfing experience as you browse. These files can take up to 10% of your hard drive space and can possibly lead to problems returning to pages on your next visit. Also, some web pages place cookies on your computer to remember your preferences when you visit their site again. If these cookies become corrupt, it can prevent you from accessing that site. Internet Explorer also keeps a history of the sites you have visited for several days. These take up space on the drive and can be deleted as well.

To delete Temporary Internet Files:

  1. Start Internet Explorer.

  2. Click Tools on the Menu Bar and Click Internet Options.

  3. Click the Delete Files Button and Click OK on the Delete Files Dialog Box.
  4. Click the Clear History Button and then Click Yes to Confirm the Deletion.
  5. You can click the Delete Cookies Button, but it is not absolutely necessary unless you are having trouble accessing some sites. Click Ok to confirm that you want to delete your cookies.

  6. Click the Ok Button to Return to Internet Explorer.

  7. Close Internet Explorer.

You can also free up disk space by emptying the Recycle Bin. On the Desktop Right Click on the Recycle Bin and Choose Empty Recycle Bin. Click the Yes Button if you are asked to confirm.

Windows also keeps track of the documents and files most recently accessed and stores the list in the Documents section of the Start Menu. You can clear this list by Right Clicking on the Task Bar, which is the bar which contains the Start Button and the Clock, and then Selecting Properties. (On XP Machines, click the Start Menu Tab, and then click the Customize Button.) Next click the Clear Button. Click OK and OK to exit the taskbar properties.

For Windows 2000, ME, 98, and 95 machines, click the Advanced Tab after Clicking properties on the Task Bar and then click the Clear Button. Click OK to exit the taskbar properties.

Running Scandisk and Defrag:

Scandisk checks your files and hard drive for errors and corrects these errors to prevent possible file damages and to keep the computer operating at its best. Defrag reorganizes your files for faster access.

Running Scandisk for Windows 2000 and XP:

  1. Double click My Computer. Next Right Click on your hard drive and choose Properties.

  2. Click the Tools tab in the window that appears.

  3. Click the Check Now Button in the Error Checking section.
  4. Click the Start Button. Error Checking will begin.

  5. If you receive a message stating that the error checking could not be completed, place a check mark in Automatically fix file system errors and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors. Click the Start button. Click Yes to schedule the error checking to happen on the next time the system restarts and then restart the computer.

Running Scandisk for Windows Me, 98, and 95:

  1. Follow Steps 1-4 as stated above.

  2. When complete, Click OK on the Scandisk report that appears, then Click Close.

Running Defrag on Windows 2000 and XP:

  1. Double Click My Computer. Next Right Click on your hard drive and choose Properties.

  2. Click the Tools Tab in the window that appears.

  3. Click the Defragment Now Button.

  4. Click the Defragment Button in the Defragmenter Program.

  5. Click Close to Exit the Defragmenter. Click Ok to Exit the Drive Properties Dialog Box.

Running Defrag on Windows ME, 98, and 95

  1. Follow Steps 1-3 for Running Defrag on Windows 2000 and XP.

  2. Click Yes When the Defragmenter has completed.

  3. Click Ok to exit the drive properties dialog box

If you have trouble running Scandisk and Defrag on your Windows ME, 98, or 95 machines, try disabling the Antivirus software by right clicking on the Gold Shield next to the clock and clicking once on enable File System Real Time Protection. Then, try running scandisk and defrag again. Be sure to turn on the Antivirus software again when you are done. Without this program running, you aren't protected from viruses.

One of the most import things to keep your computer running smoothly is to install all the latest critical updates. For more information on critical updates see the July 2002 Inner Circuits article entitled Windows Updates by Charles Baerwald.



MU Extension logo with embedded link to the Extension home page

  The information presented in this website is designed for use in the University of Missouri Extension
 computing environment. This information may not be applicable outside the Extension system.