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Restore the Windows System

  1. Choose Start → Control Panel → Back Up Your Computer (under System and Security).
  2. In the Back Up and Restore window, click the Recover System Settings On Your Computer link. In the Recovery window, click the Open System Restore button.
  3. The System Restore feature shows a progress dialog box as it starts. In the resulting System Restore window, click Next.
  4. In the System Restore dialog box that appears, click the system restore point to which you want to restore the computer and click the Next button.
  5. A dialog box confirms that you want to run System Restore and informs you that your computer will need to restart to complete the process. Close any open files or programs, and then click Finish to proceed.
  6. The system goes through a shutdown and restart sequence, and then displays a dialog box that informs you that the System Restore has occurred.
  7. Click OK to close it.
System Restore doesn't get rid of files that you've saved, so you don't lose your Ph.D. dissertation. System Restore simply reverts to Windows settings as of the restore point. This can help if you or some piece of installed software made a setting that is causing some conflict in your system that makes your computer sluggish or prone to crashes. If you're concerned about what changes will happen, click the Scan for Affected Programs button shown in the window.
System Restore doesn't always solve the problem. Your very best bet is to be sure you create a set of backup discs for your computer when you buy it. If you didn't do that, and you can't get things running right again, contact your computer manufacturer. They may be able to send you a set of recovery discs, though they may charge a small fee. These discs restore your computer to its state when it left the factory, and in this case you lose applications you installed and documents you created, but you get your computer running again.

Defragment a Hard Drive

  1. To clean up files on your hard drive, choose Start → Control Panel → System and Security and then click Defragment Your Hard Drive in the Administrative Tools window.
  2. In the resulting Disk Defragmenter window, to the left of the Defragment Disk button is the Analyze Disk button. Use this to check whether your disk requires defragmenting. When the analysis is complete, click the Defragment Disk button. A notation appears showing the progress of defragmenting your drive.
  3. When the defragmenting process is complete, the Disk Defragmenter window shows that your drive no longer requires defragmenting. Click Close to close the window and then close the Control Panel.
Disk defragmenting could take a while. If you have energy-saving features active (such as a screen saver), they could cause the defragmenter to stop and start all over again. Try running your defrag overnight while you're happily dreaming of much more interesting things. You can also set up the procedure to run automatically at a preset period of time, such as once every two weeks by using the Configure Schedule button in the Disk Defragmenter window.

Free Disk Space

  1. To run a process that cleans unused files and fragments of data off of your hard drive to free up space, choose Start → Control Panel → System and Security and then click Free Up Disk Space in the Administrative Tools.
  2. In the Disk Cleanup dialog box that appears, choose the drive you want to clean up from the drop-down list and click OK. Disk Cleanup calculates how much space you will be able to free up.
  3. The resulting dialog box, tells you that Disk Cleanup calculated how much space can be cleared on your hard drive and displays the suggested files to delete in a list (those to be deleted have a check mark). If you want to select additional files in the list to delete, click to place a check mark next to them.
  4. After you select all the files to delete, click OK. The selected files are deleted. Click the Close button to close the Control Panel.
Click the View Files button in the Disk Cleanup dialog box to see more details about the files that Windows proposes to delete, including the size of the files and when they were created or last accessed.
If you can't free up enough disk space for your needs, you might consider replacing your hard drive with one that has more capacity.

Delete Temporary Internet Files by Using Internet Explorer

  1. When you roam the Internet, various files may be downloaded to your computer to temporarily allow you to access sites or services. To clear these away, first open Internet Explorer.
  2. Choose Tools → Internet Options.
  3. On the General tab of the resulting Internet Options dialog box, click the Delete button in the Browsing History section.
  4. In the resulting Delete Browsing History dialog box, click the Temporary Internet Files checkbox to select it if it's not already selected and click Delete.
  5. A confirmation message asks whether you want to delete the files. Click Yes. Click Close and then click OK to close the open dialog boxes.
Temporary Internet files can be deleted when you run Disk Cleanup (see that task earlier in this tutorial), but the process that I describe here allows you to delete them without having to make choices about deleting other files on your system.
Windows 7 offers a feature for rating and improving your computer's performance. From the Control Panel, click System and Security, and then click the Check the Windows Experience Index Base Score link. In the resulting dialog box, click the Rate This Computer button to get a rating of your processor speed, memory operations, and more.

Schedule Maintenance Tasks

  1. Choose Start → Control Panel → System and Security and then click Schedule Tasks in the Administrative Tools window.
  2. In the resulting Task Scheduler dialog box, choose Action → Create Task.
  3. In the resulting Create Task dialog box, enter a task name and description. Choose when to run the task (either only when you are logged on, or whether you're logged on or not).
  4. Click the Triggers tab and then click New. In the New Trigger dialog box, choose a criteria in the Begin the Task drop-down list and use the settings to specify how often to perform the task as well as when and at what time of day to begin. Click OK.
  5. Click the Actions tab and then click New. In the New Action dialog box, choose the action that will occur from the Action drop-down list. These include starting a program, sending an e-mail, or displaying a message.
    Depending on what you choose here, different action dialog boxes appear. For example, if you want to send an e-mail, you get an e-mail form to fill in. Click OK.
  6. If you want to set conditions in addition to those that trigger the action that control whether it should occur, click the Conditions tab and enter them.
  7. Click the Settings tab and make settings that control how the task runs.
  8. After you complete all settings, click OK to save the task.
If you like a more wizard-like interface for building a new task, you can choose the Create Basic Task item from the Action menu. This walks you through the most basic and minimal settings you can make to create a new task.

Troubleshoot Software Problems

  1. If you can't figure out why you're having problems with a piece of software, choose Start → Control Panel → Find and Fix Problems (under System and Security).
  2. In the resulting Troubleshooting window.
  3. In the resulting Troubleshooting Problems-Programs window, choose what you want to troubleshoot:
    • Network allows you to troubleshoot a connection to the Internet.
    • Web Browser helps you figure out problems you may be having with the Internet Explorer browser.
    • Program Compatibility is a good choice if you have an older program that doesn't seem to be functioning well with this version of Windows. Program compatibility is a common cause of problems running software.
    • Printing allows you to find out why you're having difficulty with your printer, including checking for the correct printer driver software.
    • Media Player troubleshooting can be used to pinpoint problems with general settings, media files, or playing DVDs.
  4. Follow the sequence of instructions for the item you selected to let Windows help you resolve your problem.
In some cases you'll be asked for administrator permission for the troubleshooter to perform an action, so it's a good idea to run the troubleshooting wizard through an administrator level account.
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