PC Maintenance tip of the week: Defrag PC

Is it time to defrag your PC? Overtime, files get fragmented due to copying & moving files around, deleting files or installing applications on the hard drive. For example, let's say you had lots of music on the hard drive but decided to delete it. Now, all of the space where the music was is empty and ready for more files to be stored. Problem is that depending on how big the next program or file you attempt to install is, it may just not "fit" into the empty space vacated by the previous music files. Windows may have to find the next available space to finish the install of the program or file. This is what causes the fragmentation of the hard drive, which can cause the PC to respond slower because it has to work harder to find all of the files related to the program or application you are trying to access.

Solution: Defrag PC on a regular basis if you do alot of moving, copying or deleting of files or programs. On Windows XP, you can schedule a defrag or start one manually. Windows Vista attempts to automatically defrag when the PC is idle (but it is also scheduled to defrag as well by default).

HP System Recovery Actually Works

Most name brand PCs out there come with some type of System Recovery feature. I recently repaired a co-worker's PC by using the HP system Recovery option by pressing F10 during the initial HP boot screen. Basically, it was a last resort option for me. I tried every computer troubleshooting technique that I knew to fix this problem which happened to be the fact that the PC would not boot completely to the desktop. No icons or shortcuts, just a desktop background and that's it. I tried safe-mode, last-known good configuration, XP System Restore and nothing worked. I even tried creating a new user profile......same problem. I knew that I could still run the HP System Recovery option so I went ahead and backed up all of the data on another hard drive. I always back up the data first, just in case something goes wrong.

The next step was to restore the data. I reinstalled the hard drive, then powered on the PC. I pressed F10 to begin the HP System Recovery process. During the process, I was reminded that the data would be lost Windows XP would be reinstalled along with any original HP applications that came with the PC during initial purchase. All other applications would have to be reinstalled. The whole process took one hour from start to finish.

Then to my surprise, when I returned to check the PC, all of the data was still there! And the
System Recovery process completed successfully. Maybe I did not read the entire warning message correctly but I thought the data would be deleted. It saved my 3 hours of restoring the data. Everything was then back to normal. My co-worker was happy and so was I!

Have you had any success restoring PCs? Let me know.

IE8 SmartScreen Filter blocks malware

Windows XP or Windows Vista users who have their automatic software update turned on will be notified that Internet Explorer version 8 is now available for download.

The new version runs faster and smoother than version 7 according to the author of the article at The Washington Post.

One of the new features is called SmartScreen Filter. This feature blocks phishing sites but the article mentions that this does not work well against the top sites that distribute rogue anti-virus products. Of course Microsoft believes otherwise, take a look at what they say the filter does:

SmartScreen’s malware protection focuses on identifying and blocking sites on the web that are distributing malicious software. As a reputation-based feature, SmartScreen can block new threats from existing malicious sites, even if those threats are not yet blocked by traditional anti-virus or anti-malware signatures. In this way, the SmartScreen filter complements traditional anti-virus products by providing additional dimensions for both identification and protection. For comprehensive protection from malware, we highly recommend that users also install traditional anti-virus products and keep them up to date.
You can read more about Internet Explorer 8 and its SmartScreen filter here: IE8

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