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Understanding the Basics of Computers, Issue #009
June 30, 2009

Ezine issue 09

Understanding the Basics of Computers

Your source for computer tips and tricks for the beginner computer user

June 30, 2009 Issue 09

I hope all of my readers are having a fun filled summer break. For all of my readers in the Denver metro area please consider my one-on-one training. The cost is $40.00 for a 1 hour session. All lessons are project based and if you don't feel like you learned everything you anticipated I will work with you free until you understand. Please contact me if you are local to the Denver metro area and interested in a personalized training session. I am also working on making the web pages easier to find things so look for changes at www.free-computer-tutorials.net and let me know what you think. If you have any suggestions for the website please email me at jennifer@free-computer-tutorials.net and let me know what you think or what you would like me to add.

In this issue:

  • Adding more memory to your computer
  • Create a preventative maintenance plan for your computer
  • Physically cleaning your computer
  • New Technology -Firefox extension for Twitter users

Adding more memory to your computer


With computer programs increasing in size and people doing multiple tasks on their computers memory can cause a problem with your computer. Instead of having to purchase a whole new computer look at increasing the RAM(random access memory) of your computer. RAM can be an inexpensive fix to a slow computer. A local computer repair shop can increase your RAM for a reasonable price.

Before you make any purchases, you need to know how much memory you have.

To see how much RAM is in your PC, go to the Start menu, click Settings, and then click Control Panel. Click System and then select the General tab. At the bottom of the page you should see the amount of RAM

For windows XP and windows Vista you should have at least 512MB of RAM if you are just writing letters and surfing the internet. If you are gaming or running several applications at the same time you should have a minimum of 1GB.

Create a preventative maintenance plan for your computer


The most common reason your computer starts performing slowly is the hard drive. The Hard drive is the disk inside your computer that holds all of the information you store on your computer. Over time the hard drive loses its' ability to store data efficiently. Windows provides 3 great tools to help with this problem. Disk Cleanup, Defragmenter, and Check Disk. All of these tools can be found by right clicking on the C drive in My Computer and clicking properties, then click the Tools tab. Disk Clean up should be run Weekly, Defragment should be run Monthly, and Check Disk should be run Weekly. Don't worry if you are thinking you are going to have trouble remembering to do this, let Microsoft Windows do the work.

To set up Disk Cleanup to run automatically:

  1. On the Start menu, click Control Panel.
  2. In Control Panel, double-click Scheduled Tasks.
  3. Double-click Add Scheduled Task. The Scheduled Task Wizard appears, Click Next.
  4. You'll find a list of applications within the Scheduled Task Wizard. Scroll down this list until you find Disk Cleanup. Click on Disk Wizard to highlight it. Click Next.
  5. Select a frequency for the Disk Cleanup to run. Running this task weekly is suggested. Click Next.
  6. Select the best day and time of the week for the Disk Cleanup to run. Pick a time when you know you won't be using your computer, Click Next.
  7. Enter your user name and password (the one you use when you need to log on to your computer). Click Next
  8. Your PC will now automatically run Disk Cleanup on the date and time you scheduled—even if you're logged off your computer.
  9. Click Finish to have Windows automate this task.

To set up Disk Defragmenter to run automatically:

  1. On the Start menu, click Control Panel.
  2. In Control Panel, double-click Scheduled Tasks.
  3. Double-click Add Scheduled Task. The Scheduled Task Wizard appears. Click Next.
  4. Disk Fragmenter isn't available within the scroll-down list. You'll need to select it manually. Click Browse. Then, navigate to windows\system32\defrag.exe. Select defrag.exe and click Open,
  5. The Scheduled Task Wizard asks you to define the frequency for defrag.exe to run. Monthly is suggested. Click Next.
  6. You're then asked to select the time and day you wish this task to start. Pick a time you won't likely be using your computer. If you selected a Monthly time frame, you're able to define what months and what day of the month this task should run. Keep all months selected, and pick a day of the month that works for you, Select a start time that differs from your other scheduled tasks. That way, you won't have multiple tasks starting at exactly the same time. Click Next.
  7. Enter your user name and password (the one you use when you need to log on to your computer). Click Next.
  8. The next dialog box in the wizard states that you've successfully scheduled Disk Fragmenter to run on the time frame you've defined. Click Finish to have Windows automate this task.

To set up Check Disk to run automatically:

  1. On the Start menu, click Control Panel.
  2. In Control Panel, double-click Scheduled Tasks.
  3. Double-click Add Scheduled Task. The Scheduled Task Wizard appears. Click Next.
  4. Check Disk isn't available within the scroll-down list. You'll need to select it manually. Click Browse. Then, navigate to windows\system32\chkdsk.exe. Select chkdsk.exe and click Open,
  5. The Scheduled Task Wizard prompts you to define the frequency for chkdsk.exe to run. Select Weekly and click Next.
  6. You're then asked to select the time and day you wish this task to start. Select a time you won't likely be using your computer. Make sure this start time differs from your other scheduled tasks. Avoid having your tasks start at the same time.
  7. Enter your user name and password (the one you use when you need to log on to your computer). Disk Fragmenter will run as if you started it. Click Next.
  8. A wizard page appears, stating that you've successfully scheduled Check Disk to run on the time frame you've defined. Click Finish to have Windows automate this task.


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Physically cleaning your computer


Just like your home your computer needs a little dusting also. If your computer case fills with dust it can cause the cooling fans to stop working and your computer will over heat. Here is a few cleaning tips to keep your computer working in tip top condition.

Only do this if you feel comfortable. Otherwise a computer store or office supply store can do this for you. Using a screwdriver, remove the side of the case. Some computers don't need a screw driver they have twist latches. Touch as little as possible inside the computer, keeping fingers away from cards and cords.

Blow air around all of the components and along the bottom of the case, keeping the nozzle four inches away from the machine. Blow air into the power supply box and into the fan (from the back of the case). Lastly, blow air into the floppy disk and CD drives. Wipe the inside of the cover with a lightly moistened cloth before replacing it. You can purchase canned air at any office supply store.

I would recommend doing this every 6 to 12 months in normal working conditions if your computer is in an area that is dusty do this every 3 months.

You should also clean your keyboard. You will be surprised how much dust and stuff gets in there. Turn the keyboard upside down and gently shake it. Most of the crumbs and dust will fall out. Take a can of compressed air and blow into and around the keys. Next, take a cotton swab and dip it in rubbing alcohol. It should be damp, but not wet. Run the cotton swab around the outside of the keys. Rub the tops of the keys. If you have a laptop, follow the same procedure but take extra care with your machine. Do this monthly.


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New Technology -Firefox extension for Twitter users


Twitter is the latest and greatest thing for social networking. Web browsers are updating and coming out with new extensions and updates to make social networking more accessible. Take a look at this news article to learn more about the Firefox extension for Twitter. Twitter news at Cnet.com

I hope this issue of Understanding the Basics of Computers was helpful. If you have any suggestions for next months issue or comments on this issue please let me know.

Keep learning about your computer,
Jennifer Anderson
www.free-computer-tutorials.net

P.S. If you would like to purchase ad space in my e-zine please mail me with Ad in the subject line.

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