©2018 by Donald R. Snow

This page was last updated 2018-11-25.  Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don Snow's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT: There are many problems that computers develop such as getting old and worn out, hard drives becoming fragmented and slowing down, acquiring malware such as viruses, keyloggers, and ransomware, operating systems and programs becoming outdated. This class will discuss these and show some ways and free programs to help avoid such problems, including defragmenting  your hard drive and also telling you which of your installed programs have new versions and where to get them.  The notes for this class and related articles, all with active Internet links, are posted on Don's website


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah. 
  2. The notes for this class and related articles, all with active Internet links, are on my website
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for the URL for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link while keeping your place in the original page, hold down the Control key while clicking the link, so it opens in a new tab. 
  4. The problem for today:  How do you keep your computer running smoothly and up-to-date and avoid problems?

  6. Getting old and worn out
  7. Slowing down
  8. Operating system and programs needing updating
  9. RAM (Random Access Memory) not large enough
  10. Hard drives becoming filled with junk, duplicates, bloatware, and PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs)
  11. Hard drives becoming fragmented and later failing 
  12. Malware -- viruses, keyloggers, ransomware, etc.

  14. -- free for private use -- I have used this for many years and find it extremely helpful
  15. Downloading and installing
  16. Cleans up your computer system
  17. Tells you which installed programs have updates available
  18. Shows where the startup problems are and keeps track of how long it takes to boot 
  19. Includes cleaning, defragging, and many other features

  21. Ways to determine your Microsoft operation system and version
    1. Windows (start icon), then type in "winver" (without the quotes) and press Enter -- You'll see the current version and build you have of Windows
    2. Windows (start icon) > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > System Information -- gives more system information about your computer
    3. Belarc Advisor - free for personal use; gives you a report of your entire system, hardware and software --   
    4. Keep your operating system updated to avoid problems and malware -- anything before Windows 7 is asking for trouble since Microsoft is not updating it and hackers find ways to get around it and get into your computer  
    5. Windows 10 -- TechConnect article about new Windows 10 anti-virus features
  22. iOS is Apple's operating system 
  23. Linux -- free Open Source operating system -- will run many, but not all Windows programs 
  24. Drivers - small programs that connect your computer to other devices, e.g. your printer and monitor; helpful to keep them updated; will discuss below a program that tells you which of your programs have updated versions   
  25. Can uninstall programs you no longer need -- problem is how to determine which you don't need when you don't know what most of them do 
    1. Windows > Control Panel > Programs and Features > Uninstall a Program -- look over the list of installed programs and uninstall those you no longer need
    2. Glary Utilities (freeware program, see below) has an Uninstall program built in
    3. Free Revo Uninstaller -- good freeware uninstall program


  26. Check your hard drive for errors periodically -- Highlight the drive and right-click drive letter > Properties > Tools > Check (under Error Checking) -- may have to wait until you restart the computer -- will take care of many problems
  27. Hard drive gets loaded with duplicates, old files, unneeded programs, PUPs (Potential Unwanted Programs), and more  
  28. Sometimes helps to determine what's taking up the space on your hard drive(s) and help clean it up -- free program is  WinDirStat  and 
  29. Hard drive fragmentation and defragmenting
    1. Fragmented means programs are stored in pieces so they don't continue one piece after another and hard drive has to find where the next part is; like in a file cabinet where the files are continued in folders in other drawers; hard drive has to work harder and it takes more time 
    2. Rotating (platter) hard drives (mechanical - most hard drives today) get fragmented with use
    3. Defragmenting means organizing the files so each is stored continuously; takes less time for the hard drive to work
    4. There are free defragmenting programs and Windows has a built-in defragmenter -- Highlight the drive, Right-click drive letter > Properties > Tools > Optimize; will run the defrag program next time you restart your computer and may take several minutes to finish; can set it to run periodically, e.g. once/week
    5. Solid state hard drives do NOT need defragmenting since they act like flash drives with no moveable parts and defraging wears them out faster 
  30. Finding and eliminating duplicates -- this is a topic by itself and there are other class notes about it on my webpage; Auslogics -- -- several good free programs at the bottom  
  31. Sometimes helpful to reformat hard drive and reinstall OS and programs -- be sure you have a copy of all your data files and the programs to reinstall before you do this; takes time but usually speeds up your computer significantly 

  33. Antivirus program Defender is built-into Windows 10 --  
  34. Two free antivirus programs are  AVG and AVAST -- they find and prevent most problems
  35. CCleaner -- free version -- see Wikipedia discussion of CCleaner -- 
  36. Malwarebytes -- free for private use -- can run it periodically on your computer to clean out some problems  
  37. PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs) and bloatware -- these come from installing programs without paying attention to the questions they ask as you install
  38. Ransomware -- if you get one, use your complete online backup or your backup from a separate hard drive; turn off your computer immediately and reformat your hard drive and reinstall from your backup -- probably best to let a professional do it, but you need a backup 
  39. New kinds of malware problems coming out all the time -- see below for more free software for private use

  41. Spam
    1. Email addresses are harvested and sold and you get spam
    2. May have to change email addresses, but try to keep same one so you don't have to notify everyone -- can get an email address that doesn't change when you move or change Internet Providers, e.g. from Gamil or your university or work 
    3. When forwarding stories and articles, use BCc (Blind Copy To), not Cc (Copy To) -- makes it so you don't see all the email addresses and they aren't available to harvesters 
    4. Several websites where you can check for accuracy of stories before forwarding them -- , and
    5. Don't click on links in unsolicited emails -- major source of problems and identity theft; sometimes called phishing
  42. Downloading freeware -- be careful and only download from sites you trust
  43. Watch what you install; use Custom Installation, rather than the Standard Installation, so it doesn't add other programs and change your default settings
  44. Most search engines, e.g. Google, keep track of what you search for and put up ads on your search results screens; DuckDuckGo is one that doesn't keep track of your searches
  45. Making your cursor mouse pointer more visible -- Not really about viruses and malware  
    1. Microsoft icon (lower left corner) > Control Panel > Mouse & change settings -- set size, color, and trail so you see a trail when you move the mouse  
    2. PenAttention -- free program to put disk around cursor so it's easier to see 
  46. Suggest using default printer as Microsoft Print to PDF so you don't inadvertently print stuff to hard copy -- Microsoft icon > Control Panel > Devices and Printers > Microsoft Print to PDF -- right-click and set as default printer 
  47. Question: Should you leave your computer on or turn it off at night? -- Current thinking is that it doesn't take much power nor cause problems and leaving it on all the time allows it to update the OS late at night

  49. Ask Bob Rankin article --
  50. YouTube tutorial -- 8 minutes -- -- good tutorial, some technical stuff in it later
  51. YouTube tutorial -- 12 minutes -- -- good information, same fellow as above
  52. YouTube tutorial -- 5 minutes -- -- annoying mannerisms in presentation, but helpful info
  53. WikiHow article --
  54. LifeHacker article on best programs to free up hard drive space --  
  55. To free up space article -- 

  57. Everyone has computer problems at times and it's not always easy to determine if it's major or minor; helps to have a grandkid to ask. 
  58. Computer maintenance and updates take time, but saves you time and grief in the long run. 

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