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It's Time to Give Your Computer a Clean Sweep!

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RALEIGH — Spring is the time for cleaning house, and if you have a computer, you might want to do a little cleaning there too. Running Windows on a personal computer litters the hard drive with all kinds of unused and unwanted files. They often just sit there eating up space. WRAL OnLine reporter Tom Lawrence guides us through some ideas for cleaning up the mess.

There are simple things you can do to add hard drive space. Clean out the "history" of your web browser. You don't really need to keep it very long. To improve download speed, clear the memory and disk cache of the browser.

We all trash lots of e-mail, but saving space means emptying that trash and it's done with the click of your mouse.

To get to the really hard stuff, you need an uninstall program. Most Windows 95 software comes with uninstall features, but there are commercially available products that can get lots of scum off your hard drive.

First I ran a diagnostic program downloaded from the Internet. You can really check out your system with these programs and judge peripheral and systems performance. Good idea.

Then I fired up a free trial version of Quarterdeck's "Clean Sweep". With Windows when you remove a program's directory you leave behind lots of useless data that can clog up areas of the hard drive.

Clean up programs find cookies, unused plug-ins, internet cache files and others.

You can buy these programs at software stores or download them from the Internet. Typically they cost $30 to $40 and many are updatable from the Internet. So roll up your sleeves and get that grime out of your computer!

There are other things you should do with your Windows machine. Run the built in Scan Disk Utility occasionally, and defragment your hard drive too.

It's surprising what a little preventive maintenance can do to keep your computer running smoothly.