Since Microsoft took steps to improve the processes and performance in Windows 7 and Vista, this article will be directed mostly to users who are still working with Windows XP. Frankly, until Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP there will still be a multitude of users who delay in updating their Operating System.
Accessing the system tools can be done by first navigating to the Start Menu > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools. Once you are in this folder you will notice there are several different programs. For the purposes of this article we will concentrate on Disk Cleanup, Disk Defragmenter, Scheduled Tasks, System Information and System Restore. Utilizing these tools can help keep your system running smooth and help keep the internal clutter at a minimum.
System Information can be very useful and does exactly what it says. By selecting this option you can get system information including but not limited to OS Name and Version, BIOS Version, Processor Information, Boot Device and System Name and Manufacturer. You can also use this program to find hardware resources, components that are installed, system drivers, currently running tasks, network connections, internet settings and Microsoft Office Applications if applicable. This program can be extremely useful if you need to speak with a technician about issues with your computer.
Disk Cleanup is a program that first calculates how much space it will free up by running and will then allow you to select what types of files to have the program remove. Some of the file types are temporary internet files, cookies, cached files and recycle bin. For the most part this program can be set to remove all files from the list, unless you specifically know of some that you will need to keep. Once you start the program it can take anywhere from a couple to several minutes depending on how cluttered your system is. Running this program often will help keep it up to speed.
Another program that will positively affect your computers performance is Disk Defragmenter. As your computer processes tasks and programs the files become scattered throughout the system. What this does is slow down the process speed of the CPU by causing it to have to search for files for longer in order to access them. Disk Defragmenter will first analyze your system in order to determine if a defragment is in order. Once the program determines you will need to defragment your system you can choose to run. This program gets all of the like files and to the best it can puts them back where they should be. If a computer is older and has never been defragged, it may not be able to 100% defrag, however, any amount will improve the process speed of the system.
System Restore is a program that can undo harmful changes to your computer and restore its settings and performance. Your system automatically creates restore points anytime a major change is made to the system. These points can be used to restore your system back to, in order to undo harmful changes to your system. You can also manually create restore points before you make any major changes, that you can use if problems arise during installation or afterwards. These changes are completely reversible and will not cause you to lose recent work such as saved documents, email, or browser information.
Lastly we will look at Scheduled Tasks, which is a Microsoft Wizard that walks you through scheduling tasks for your computer to run. First you select a program that you want to schedule. You then select how often you would like this tasks to run, which can be daily, weekly, monthly, once, when my computer starts or when I log in. For programs such as disk cleanup and Disk Defragmenter I would suggest weekly. You are then prompted to select at what time you want the program to run and the recurrence of it. If you leave your computer on overnight select a time around one or two AM so it won’t interrupt your personal time and then pick which day you would like it to run. If your system has user information you will need to enter it so the program will perform as if you are starting it. You then select finish and go on to your next task.