Keep Your Computer Running Like New - Automatically!

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Windows comes with several programs you can use to clean the hard drive and maintain your PC's software. The steps below will show you ways to keep your computer running smoothly, and best of all, how to run Windows's in-built cleaner on auto-pilot.

*1 Defrag*Your PC stores files in different parts of your hard drive, as programs are extended and new files created over deleted ones. This process is called file fragmentation. An easy way to make your PC run faster is to make it easier for your hard drive to find the files it needs, speeding up direct read times. To run your Defragmenter, go to Start -> Control Panel -> System and Maintenance -> click 'Rearrange items on your hard disk to make programs run faster'.

*2. Disk Cleanup*Disk Cleanup is a Windows application that will clear out old and unused files, saving your disk space for the programs you use routinely. Without realizing it, you may have documents that were relevant several months ago but their use has passed. You may have downloaded a lot of images attached to emails, such as a signature file. These have no use to you, but they take up room on your computer. To clear your old and unnecessary files, go to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Cleanup and select the files you want to remove.

*3 Check For Viruses*
It's possible a slow PC is the victim of a malicious program or virus, sometimes called 'malware' or 'spyware'. Spyware keeps tabs on the information on your computer and may transmit it to thieves to use your credit card data or similar personal information. Check now if your firewall is turned on. Follow Start -> Control Panel -> Network and Internet Connections -> Windows Firewall.

Spyware will slow your PC down significantly and if you've got it, you should get rid of it immediately with an antivirus program. Click here for recommendations.

*4 Automate*
The best part is, you can automate everything above! Windows has a built-in feature to run the programs on auto-pilot. Follow the steps below and get your operating system to check and update itself regularly.

First, we need to create a Batch File. A Batch File contains a set of instructions you can define, for your computer to follow.

Second, we show you how to edit your Batch File.

*5 Create a Batch File*
Open notepad by clicking Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> Notepad.

You have a blank page. You will enter the text that appears below, but first, we need to save the notepad so your computer knows it's a Batch File to automate your Defrag, Disk Cleanup and virus checker.

Save the file in a location where you can easily access it, like your desktop. Select File -> Save As from the Notepad menu. You can see three boxes at the bottom of the Save As popup box. In 'File Name:' enter an easy name that you will remember, and make sure enter .bat as the file extension. For example, you might call the file 'cleanup.bat' or 'maintenance.bat'. The .bat after the name you choose is the file extension.

In 'Save as type:' select All Files from the dropdown menu.

Now you've created your Batch File, you need to give it the instructions to clean your computer.

*Auto Defrag*
To automatically defrag your hard drive, enter the following line into your Batch File:


*6 Auto Disk Cleanup*
We have to tell the Disk Cleanup program what parts of the disk to fix when the automated program comes around. Here's how:

* Click Start -> Run
* Type "cleanmgr /sagerun:1"
* Click OK

The Disk Cleanup Settings window will appear. Select the items you'd like to scrub as we did in step 2 above.

Next, to automatically have Windows cleanup your disk, enter the following line into your Batch File"

"cleanmgr /sagerun:1"

*7 Auto Virus Check*
Scheduling virus checks depends on the virus program you have. You're best to look at the support section of the website for the anti-virus company you use, or contact their support staff for instructions on how to automate the virus checker into your Batch File.
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