©2018 by Donald R. Snow

This page was last updated 2018-02-19.  Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don Snow's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT:  There are many ways computers have problems including getting old and worn out, slowing down, acquiring malware such as viruses, keyloggers, and ransomware, having out-dated operating systems and programs, and hard drives becoming fragmented.  This class will discuss these and ways to help to avoid such problems.  We will show some free programs that help and also tell you which of your installed programs have new versions available and where to get them.  The notes for this class and related articles, all with active Internet links, are posted on my 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 drive failures and becoming fragmented and filled with junk, duplicates, bloatware, and PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs)
  11. Malware -- viruses, keyloggers, ransomware, etc.

  13. Determine your Microsoft operating system and version by -- Windows > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > System Information
  14. Belarc Advisor - free for personal - will give you a report of your entire system, hardware and software --   
  15. Keep OS updated to avoid problems and malware-- anything before Windows 7 is asking for trouble since Microsoft is not updating for problems hackers find
  16. Windows 10 -- TechConnect article about new Windows 10 anti-virus features
  17. iOS -- Apple
  18. Linux -- free Open Source operating system -- will run many, but not all Windows programs 
  19. Drivers - small programs that connect your computer to your printer, monitor, etc., should be updated
  20. Uninstall programs you no longer need
    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) also has an Uninstall program built in
    3. Free Revo Uninstaller -- good freeware uninstall program


  21. 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
  22. Hard drive gets loaded with duplicates, old files, unneeded programs, PUPs (Potential Unwanted Programs), and more -- Ways to determine what's taking up the space on your hard drive(s)
  23. Finding what's taking up the space on your hard drive(s) and help clean up; free program -- WinDirStat  and 
  24. Hard drive fragmentation and defragmenting
    1. Fragmented means programs are stored in pieces so they don't continue on to the next sector and it takes longer for the hard drive to work with it; runs faster when not fragmented
    2. Rotating (Platter) hard drives (mechanical - most hard drives today) get fragmented with use
    3. Windows has a built-in defragmenting program -- Highlight the drive, Right-click drive letter > Properties > Tools > Optimize; runs the defrag program; may have to wait until next time you restart your computer; can be set to run periodically, e.g. once/week
    4. Solid state hard drives do not need defragmenting since they act like flash drives with no moveable parts; defraging wears them out faster
  25. Finding and eliminating duplicates -- this is a whole topic by itself and there are other class notes about it on my webpage; some free programs shown below 
  26. Sometimes helpful to reformat hard drive and reinstall OS and programs -- be sure you have a copy of all your data files before you do this; takes time but usually speeds up your computer significantly

  28. Antivirus software -- several free programs -- AVG and AVAST are two such -- not perfect, but they do find and prevent most of the problems
  29. PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs) and bloatware-- these come from installing programs without paying attention to the questions they ask as you install
  30. Ransomware -- use a complete backup online and/or on separate hard drive to recover from this
  31. Malware -- lots of different types of problem programs and more coming out all the time-- see below for helpful free software for private use

  33. GLARY UTILITIES - From -- free for private use
    1. Downloading and installing
    2. Cleans up your computer system
    3. Tells you which installed programs have updates available
    4. Shows where the startup problems are and keeps track of how long it takes to start
    5. Has cleaning, defragging, and many other features
  34. CCleaner -- free version-- see Wikipedia discussion of CCleaner --
  35. Malwarebytes -- free version
  36. Auslogics -- -- several good free programs at the bottom

  38. Spam
    1. Email addresses are harvested and sold so 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 your university or work or Gmail, etc.   
    3. Helps to avoid spam if your email address is not simple
    4. Forwarding stories and articles with Cc (Copy To) makes all those email addresses available to harvesters -- use BCC (Blind Copy To), not CC, to hide people's email addresses
    5. Several websites where you can check for accuracy of stories before forwarding them -- , and
    6. Don't click on links in unsolicited emails -- major source of problems and identity theft; sometimes called phishing
  39. Downloading freeware -- be careful and only download from sites you trust
  40. Watch what you install; use Custom Installation, rather than the Standard Installation which  may add other programs and change your default settings
  41. 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
  42. Question:  Turn off your computer at night?  Current thinking is it doesn't take much power nor cause problems to leave it on all the time and then it can update OS when needed

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

  52. 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.
  53. Computer maintenance and update takes time, but saves you time and grief in the long run.

Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don Snow's Class Listings Page .