©2019 by Donald R. Snow

This page was last updated 2019-12-08.  Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don Snow's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT: With use computers develop problems such as getting old and worn out, hard drives becoming fragmented and slowing down, acquiring malware such as viruses, keyloggers, ransomware, and operating systems and programs becoming outdated. This class will discuss such problems, show some ways and free programs to help avoid them, and give you time to ask questions. The free programs we discuss will help you do things like defragment your hard drive, tell you which programs on your computer need updating, where to get the updaes, and more. 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 to keep your computer running smoothly, 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 -- fragmentation is not a problem now, but hard drive faailure is -- have good backups!!! 
  12. Malware -- viruses, keyloggers, ransomware, etc.

  14. Computer operating systems (OS)
    1. Microsoft Windows -- current version is Windows 10
    2. Apple iOS
    3. Linux (Unix) OS -- free opensource, will run many, but not all, Windows programs
  15. Different computers may have slightly different wording of items than is on these notes
  16. To determine which version of Windows you have 
    1. Click Windows (start icon) > type "winver" (without the quotes in the Search box above the Windows icon) > Enter -- will show your version and build of Windows
    2. For more information click Windows (start icon) > type "control panel" (no quotes) > System and Secutiry > Administrative Tools > System Information
  17. Belarc Advisor -- free for personal use -- gives you a report of your entire system, hardware and installed software -- -- run this and save the results every few months 
  18. Keep your operating system updated to avoid problems and malware -- Microsoft is not updating anything before Windows 10, so hackers can get into older systems easily
  19. Drivers- - these are small programs that connect your computer to oevices such as your monitpor and printer; helpful to keep them updated; will show a free program below that tells you which of your programs have updated versions   
  20. Uninstalling programs not needed anymore
    1. Problem is how to determine which you don't need when you don't know what many of them do 
    2. To uninstall a progam using the Windows commands:  Windows > Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall a Program -- go over the long list of installed programs and uninstall those you no longer need
    3. Good free uninstaller -- Free Revo Uninstaller 
    4. Glary Utilities (freeware program discussed below) has an Uninstall program built in


  21. Available from -- free for private use -- I have used this for many years and find it extremely helpful
  22. Cleans up your computer system
  23. Tells you which installed programs have updates available and has a place to get the updates
  24. Shows where the startup problems are and keeps track of how long it takes your computer to boot 
  25. Includes cleaning, defragging, and many other features

  27. Check your hard drive for errors periodically -- Highlight the drive letter and right-click it > Properties > Tools > Check (under Error Checking) -- may have to wait until you restart the computer -- will take care of many problems
  28. Computer runs faster when hard drive isn't full -- they get duplicates, old files, unneeded programs, PUPs (Potential Unwanted Programs), and more  
  29. Sometimes helps to determine what's taking up the space on your hard drive(s) and help clean it up -- free program  -  WinDirStat  and 
  30. Hard drive fragmentation
    1. Fragmented means files are stored in pieces so they are not in one piece and hard drive has to work harder to load it; analogous to files in a file cabinet that are contained in several folders in various places and maybe not even in same drawer 
    2. Magnetic hard drives are rotating metal platters with mechanical head that works over them to find what is stored and they get fragmented with use
    3. Defragmenting means organizing the files so they are continues and the head takes less time to load a file   
    4. Hard drives are now mostly self-defraggging, so you don't need to worry about this
    5. But, if you want to, Windows has a built-in defragger and there are free ones -- Highlight the drive, Right-click drive letter > Properties > Tools > Optimize; will run the defrag program the next time you restart your computer and may take several minutes to finish; can set it to run periodically, e.g. once/month, if you want, but not needed
    6. Solid state hard drives do NOT need defragmenting since they act like flash drives with no moving parts, so they never need defraging; in fact, defragging them wears them out faster 
  31. Deleting files on your computer just moves them to the Recycle Bin, so they still take up space until you clean out the Recyle Bin by right-clicking on it and cleaning it out; or run Glary Utilities (see above)
  32. Finding and eliminating duplicates -- this is a topic by itself discussed in other class notes on my website; a good and free dup finder is Auslogics --   
  33. Sometimes it's worthwhile to reformat hard drive and reinstall OS and programs, but BEFORE you do, make a BACKUP OF YOUR DATA; usually speeds up your computer somewhat  

  35. Antivirus program Defender is built-into Windows 10 --  and TechConnect article about Windows 10 anti-virus features
  36. Two free antivirus programs are  AVG   and  AVAST -- they find and prevent most problems
  37. CCleaner -- free version  
  38. Malwarebytes -- free for private use -- can run it periodically  to clean out some problems  
  39. PUPs (Potentially Unwanted Programs) and bloatware -- these come from installing programs without paying attention to the questions as you install
  40. Ransomware -- if you get one, turn off your computer immediately and use your complete backup (online or from a separate hard drive) and reformat and reinstall your system; probably best to let a professional do it, BUT YOU NEED A BACKUP OF YOUR DATA 
  41. New kinds of malware problems coming out all the time -- see below for more free software for private use

  43. Spam
    1. Email addresses are harvested and sold and you get spam
    2. Try to keep spam out so you don't have to change email addresses and notify eveveryone; can get an email address that you don't have to change when you move or change Internet providers, e.g. get a Gmail address or from your school 
    3. When forwarding stories and articles, use BCc (Blind Copy To), not Cc (Copy To) -- makes it so all the email addresses aren't seen and can't be harvested 
    4. Check stories for accuracy before forwarding them; many are not true; can check on several websites such as -- , and
    5. Don't click on links in unsolicited emails -- major source of problems and identity theft; sometimes called "phishing"
  44. Downloading freeware -- be careful and only download from sites you trust
  45. Watch what you install; use Custom Installation, rather than the Standard Installation, so it doesn't add other programs and change your default settings
  46. 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
  47. Making your computer easier to use -- Comtrol Panel > Ease of Use and change settings -- .Free Fre
  48. ke cursor and mouse pointer more visible -- Control Panel > Mouse & change settings -- set size, color, and trail, so you see a trail when you move the mouse  
  49. PenAttention -- free program to put disk around cursor so it's easier to see 
  50. Suggest using default printer as Microsoft Print to PDF so you don't inadvertently print stuff to hard copy -- Control Panel > Devices and Printers > Microsoft Print to PDF -- right-click and set as default printer 
  51. Whether to leave your computer on or  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

  53. Ask Bob Rankin article --
  54. YouTube tutorial -- 8 minutes -- -- good tutorial, some technical stuff in it later-- Click to Skip the Ad and go to the tutorial
  55. YouTube tutorial -- 12 minutes -- -- good information, same fellow as above
  56. YouTube tutorial -- 5 minutes -- -- annoying mannerisms in presentation, but helpful info
  57. WikiHow article --
  58. LifeHacker article on best programs to free up hard drive space --  
  59. To free up space article -- 

  61. 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. 
  62. Computer maintenance and updates take time, but saves you time and grief in the long run. 

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