By following a few simple guidelines, you can maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly. This article discusses how to use the tools available in Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to more efficiently maintain your computer and safeguard your privacy when you’re online.

1. Free up disk space

The Disk Cleanup tool helps you free up space on your hard disk to improve the performance of your computer. The tool identifies files that you can safely delete, and then enables you to choose whether you want to delete some or all of the identified files.

Use Disk Cleanup to:

* Remove temporary Internet files.
* Remove downloaded program files (such as Microsoft ActiveX controls and Java applets).
* Empty the Recycle Bin.
* Remove Windows temporary files such as error reports.
* Remove optional Windows components that you don’t use.
* Remove installed programs that you no longer use.
* Remove unused restore points and shadow copies from System Restore. More »

It’s always a bit tricky to beta test a new operating system. Most of us don’t have an abundance of extra hardware just sitting around, and it can be both time consuming and risky to rebuild your production machine with a pre-release version of the next OS.

But with Windows 7, it’s pretty easy to beta test on the machine you’ve already got. Hard drives have gotten much larger and much less expensive, and if you’re running Windows Vista, you already have built-in functionality to help you create a separate partition for testing.

To get started, open the Disk Management section of the Computer Management console on your Windows Vista machine. You can access this by clicking Start | Run and entering compmgmt.msc. Right-click your current system partition, likely labeled C:, and select Shrink Volume. Windows will query the disk for the amount of available space. You’ll probably want at least 20-30gigs of free space so you’ll have enough room for the Windows 7 beta installation, some data, and a few applications. More »

Since Firefox 3.0, bookmarks, history and most storage is kept in SQLite databases. Also, the default history time span was raised from 9 to 90 days as it became more discoverable and useful thanks to the awesome bar, so depending on your browsing habits it could represent some pretty large databases.

Aas any other database, SQLite databases become fragmented over time and empty spaces appear all around. But, since there are no managing processes checking and optimizing the database, these factors eventually result in a performance hit. So, a good way to improve startup and some other bookmarks and history related tasks is to defragment and trim unused space from these databases.

To do this:

Step 1: get sqlite3, a single file command line SQLite database manager, for your platform (available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X).

Step 2: Copy the downloaded binary to your profile folder where all your .sqlite files reside.

Step 3: Close Firefox. More »

If it seems like your computer has gotten slower since you bought it, it probably has. One of the biggest factors that slows down your computer’s performance is fragmentation, a situation that occurs over time, in which files on your hard drive become divided into small pieces. Your computer must read a file to open, save, or close it. So when it reads each piece of a fragmented file separately, the effect is that the file can seem “slow” when you’re working with it.

Defragmenting your hard drive is the process of putting all the scattered pieces of files back together. Microsoft Windows XP includes a tool that will defragment your hard drive for you. To keep your system performing well, it’s a good idea to have Windows XP automatically defragment your hard drive every week. More »

Is your windows Vista getting slower and slower now that you have been using it for almost a year and have installed many programs and used up more space since you first installed the OS? If so here are a few tips to tweak your PC to get that boot up performance back making it quicker.

First thing you should do is always get rid of your temporary files and any unused programs. Once you have done that then run the defrag tool to reorganize your hard drive. Defragmenting your files puts them back into one contiguous space on your drive optimizing your boot time.

To get Vista’s defrag tool to give you some information about your hard disk, and to controlWindows Vista Memory which hard disk or partition it defragments, you will need to use the command line defragmentation utility. It will still not give you any feedback while defragmenting, just as the GUI version of the defragmenter will not, but at least you can get information on the fragmentation level of your hard disk, control whether to defragment even if the file fragments are larger than 64 MB, and control which partition or hard disk to defragment. More »