Keeping Your PC Healthy

Backing up files

Backing up files and removing them from the hard drive frees space for new files on the hard drive. It also protects you from losing important information if you accidentally delete files or if the hard drive fails.

Steps to run the Windows backup program

  • Double-click the My Computer icon.
  • The My Computer window opens.
  • Right-click the hard drive you want to back up, then select Properties. The System Properties dialog box opens.
  • Click the Tools.
  • Click Backup Now. The Backup program starts.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.

Scanning the hard drive for errors

The ScanDisk utility examines the hard drive for surface errors and file and folder problems. ScanDisk corrects these problems so that Windows and other programs run efficiently.

If you use your computer several hours everyday you probably want to run ScanDisk once a week. On the other hand, if you use your computer less frequently, once a month may be adequate. Run ScanDisk based on how often you use your system. Also use ScanDisk if you encounter hard drive problems

Steps to run ScanDisk

  • Double-click the My Computer icon. The My Computer window opens.
  • Right-click the hard drive that you want to check for errors, then select Properties. The System Properties dialog box opens.
  • Click the Tools tab.
  • Click Check Now. The ScanDisk dialog box opens.
  • Select the options to use, then click Start. ScanDisk checks the drive for errors. This process may take several minutes.
  • Correct any problems that are found by following the on-screen instructions. After ScanDisk has finished checking the drive for errors, it provides a summary of the problems that it found.
  • Click Close.

Defragmenting the hard drive

When working with files, sometimes Windows divides the file information into pieces and stores them in different places on the hard drive. This is called fragmentation, and it is normal. In order for the hard drive to use a file, it must search for the pieces of the file and put them back together. This process slows the hard drive performance.

The Disk Defragmenter utility organizes the data on the drive so that each file is stored as one unit rather than multiple pieces scattered across different areas of the disk. Defragmenting the information stored on the drive can improve hard drive performance.

Steps to run Disk Defragmenter

  • Double-click the My Computer icon. The My Computer window opens.
  • Right-click the hard drive that you want to defragment, then select Properties. The System Properties dialog box opens.
  • Click the Tools tab.
  • Click Defragment Now.
  • If Disk Defragmenter does not start automatically, click Start or Defragment.
  • Disk Defragmenter shows its progress on the screen. When finished, Disk Defragmenter asks if you want to quit the utility.
  • If you want to defragment another drive, click No then follow the on-screen instructions.

Get Windows Critical Updates

Security updates help shield your computer from vulnerabilities, viruses, worms, and other threats as they are discovered. Windows® XP has an Automatic Updates feature that you can use to download the latest security updates automatically on a schedule you choose.

Steps to turn on Automatic Updates

  • Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
  • Click Performance and Maintenance.

Note: If the Performance and Maintenance category is not visible, click Switch to Category View.

  • Click System.
  • Click Automatic Updates and then select Keep my computer up to date.
  • Select a setting. Microsoft recommends selecting Automatically download the updates, and install them on the schedule that I specify and setting a daily update.
  • Choose Automatically download the updates and install them on a schedule that I specify.

Important: If you set up Automatic Updates to notify you, or if you forget to leave your computer on, you will see a notification balloon. Click the notification balloon to review and install the updates.

  • Click the balloon to install new updates.

Next, get up-to-date with Windows Update

Here's how you can bring your computer up to date with security updates that are currently available. You can also use these instructions to keep up with the latest non-critical updates.
Important: Before you begin to update your computer, back up your files and information.

Go to the Windows Update website at

Click Scan for Updates. Windows Update scans your computer and displays a pre-selected list of critical updates, including security updates and service packs.

Note: Download times might vary depending on modem speed and how many updates your computer needs. To reduce download times, run Windows Update downloads when you are not using your computer for other Internet-related tasks.

Under Pick updates to install, click Critical Updates and Service Packs. Windows Update then creates a list of the updates that are appropriate for your computer. Critical updates are selected for download automatically.

Click Review and install updates.

Select updates and then click Install Now. You might have to restart your computer after installing the updates.

Click Review and install updates

Get Antivirus software & Updates

Installing, configuring, and maintaining antivirus protection is absolutely essential. Antivirus software will help protect your computer against most viruses and worms.

Instructions for updating your virus definitions can be located in the program's Help feature.

Steps to run Sophos Antivirus Live Update

Sophos is setup to automatically check every 60 minutes for the latest virus updates. To manually check for updates, right click on the Blue Shield in the system tray and select Update now.

Note: For the latest virus information, please visit the IT virus web page at:

Note: If the Internet connection used is not the default Internet connection, it may be necessary to manually connect to the Internet through the desired ISP before running Live Update

Install, run and keep up-to-date Anti-Spy Anti-Adware utility

This prevents CPU and Internet cycle stealing and spying. Spyware/Adware tracks your internet browsing, increase pop-up ads, and also give hackers a way in to your computer. There is a highly-recommended free spyware blocker called "Spybot", available online at:

Managing hard drive space

By deleting unnecessary files from your hard drive you can help manage the hard drive space.

Steps to check hard drive space

Double-click on the My Computer icon. The My Computer window opens.

Right-click the hard drive that you want to check for available file space, then select

The System Properties dialog box opens showing available space on the drive.

Deleting unnecessary files

By deleting unnecessary files from the hard drive you free up space. Use the Windows Disk Cleanup utility to delete temporary Windows files, delete temporary Internet files, empty to Recycle Bin, and delete other files.

Empty the Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin in Windows is a folder that saves all the files you delete, just in case you change your mind. In order to physically remove these files from your hard drive to free up unused space, you must empty the Recycle Bin. To do this, Double click the Recycle Bin on the desktop then click file and select Empty Recycle Bin to improve system performance.

Steps in using Windows Disk Cleanup program in Windows XP

Click Start

Point to All Programs

Point to Accessories

Point to System Tools

Then click Disk Cleanup.

Clearing Cache on Microsoft® Internet Explorer 6.0

Click Start, select Control Panel.

Click Network and Internet Connections

Double click Internet Options to open Internet Properties

Click the General tab.

Click Delete Files.

Note: Do not select Delete Cookies. Delete Files removes all the cookies stored on the computer.

Click OK on the Delete Files dialog box.

Click OK.

This page developed and maintained by the Information Technology Department. Send comments and suggestions to .

Last Updated: 9/19/18