Leslie's Un-Geek Windows XP Newsletter Volume #2 ~ December 28, 2009

Date: December 28th 2009

Greetings, Dear Readers!

Hello, Dear Readers.

I hope your holidays were joyous and wonderful.  Check out the neat new gadgets at the end of the newsletter now that you can use to share the newsletter with friends &/or receive it in your RSS reader.  I have accumulated some really good topics for this issue from things that come up in my daily life and the lives of my pepes, plus I got some really good quesions from you, the readers.  I'll start with questions from you.

 WHEN I TRY TO RUN A CERTAIN PROGRAM I GET AN ERROR THAT SAYS I HAVE TO BE LOGGED IN AS ADMINISTRATOR AND IT WON'T RUN.  WHY, AND WHAT CAN I DO TO GET IT TO RUN.

The answer to "why?" is pretty much "Beats me!"  Some programs just don't seem to recognize you as administrator, even when you are.  Here's what to do:  If you're using a Windows XP machine all you have to do is right click the icon for the program and you'll see a menu like this:

Click on "run as" and you'll see a dialog box like this:

 

Now you can click on the radio button by the administrator of the computer (probably you), enter password if you need to, and click "ok".  The program should probably run now.

If you're using a Vista or Windows 7 machine the first menu will look like this:

 

Click on "run as administrator" and you'll probably get one of those boxes asking if you're sure and you just click "ok" and the program should run.  Hopefully after you've gone through this process once you won't have to again for that particular program.

WHAT DOES THE DEFRAGMENTER DO, HOW OFTEN SHOULD I RUN IT, AND IS IT SAFE TO RUN IT MORE OFTEN?

Everything on you computer consists of bits of information "written" on your hard drive.  Bits that work together to run programs and display information are grouped together so that when you ask your hard drive to run the program or provide a function your hard drive can find everything it needs to obey your command quickly and easily.  But through daily use the groups get split apart and scattered around so that they aren't together anymore and it's a little harder and more time-consuming for your hard drive to find and round up all the bits it needs to obey your commands.  This is called "fragmentation".  The defragmenter puts all the little bits back together in groups where they belong so that your hard drive is faster and more efficient again at obeying your commands.  Some activites produce more fragmentation than others.  Photo editing, video editing, loading music on your computer do cause more fragmentation that r eading and writing email, word processing, and surfing the web.  So if you mostly only do the latter three activities you really don't need to defragment more than once a month.  And if you do lots of the former three activities, once a week would be better.  These are general estimates and not strict perameters.  The built-in defragmenter that comes with Windows XP is really cool.  You can run the "analyze" function and it will tell you if you need to defragment or not.  The defragmenter built into Vista and Windows 7 is designed to run automatically in the background and is set to run once a week by default.  This is perfectly acceptable.  You can actually defragment your C drive as often as you like without doing any damage, but it's unnecessary and won't improve performance unless it was needed in the first place.

There are two really important things to remember: 

  1. NEVER DEFRAGMENT IF YOU HAVE OR MAY HAVE A VIRUS!!!  Run a virus scan and let your anti-virus program get rid of any viruses before you defragment.  If you defragment first, there is a chance your anti-virus program will no longer be able to find and destroy the virus.  It's also a good idea to run the disc clean utility first, too, but not necessary. 
  2. NEVER DEFRAGMENT YOUR RECOVERY PARTITION!!!  Your recovery partition is probably designated as drive D and is much smaller than your main C drive.  The Windows XP defragmenter looks like this with the drive letters listed at the top:

 

 

Unfortunately I don't have a recovery partition for you to see in the example above, but if I did it would be listed right under the C drive, probably as the D drive.  Before you defragment make sure your C drive ONLY is highlighted by simply left clicking on it once.  That will tell your defragmenter to defrag the  C drive only.  If you defragment your D drive there is a chance it won't work if you ever need it to reinstall your OS from.

HOW DO I RUN THE DISC CLEAN UTILITY?

I think the easiest way to access it is to double click on your My Computer icon on your desktop, then right click your C drive and you'll get a menu:

 

Click on "properties" and you'll get a dialog box like this:

 

Now just click on the "Disk Cleanup" button and that will start the process.  You'll see a little box with a progress bar and after it runs for a minute it'll go away and you'll see this:

 

Check all the little boxes, then the "ok" button.  You'll get a little box asking "Are you sure...?".  Click on "yes" and let it run til it's finished and disappears on its own.  It may take a really long time if you've never done it before.  Run it every week and it won't take that long ever again.  This along with defragmenting are two very simple utilities that can significantly improve your computer's performance, especially if you've never done them and your computer is slowing down &/or crashing, freezing, hanging, etc.

HERE'S A LITTLE KNOW FACT FOR LAPTOP OWNERS:

Your battery is good for about 500 charges, give or take.  Most people leave the battery plugged into the laptop all the time, even when running on AC power.  If you unplug your battery before you plug your power cord into the wall you'll save your battery and improve its life significantly.   When you use the battery, use it til it's dead, charge it, and then unplug it until you need to run on battery power again.  That way you'll get the most out of your 500 charges.  If you leave it plugged in all the time, it charges every time you plug  in the power cord, thereby using up your 500 charges before you ever even use them.

 

A LITTLE NOTE FROM ME:

If at any time I'm not clear in my explanations feel free to ask for clarification.  It's hard to know sometimes how you're coming across or being understood in print vs. in person.

 

Well, I'm tired of typing, so that's it for this issue.

 


Well, that's about it for now. Again, please send me all your questions and I'll use them in the next issue. CLICK HERE to email me. And don't forget to visit my website here ---> Computer RX of Eastern Washington

Happy computing!
Leslie, The Un-Geek


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