©2021 by Donald R. Snow - Last updated 2021-03-12
Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don Snow's Class Listings Page.
ABSTRACT: Computers develop problems and don't run as smoothly with age.  This is Part 1 of a series about how to keep your computer running well and deals with checking the hard drive(s) for errors and installing and updating software.  We will discuss free programs that help with these tasks. The notes for this class and related articles, all with active Internet links, are on my website .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These notes, with active internet links and other related articles, are on Don's website .
  3. Tips:  (1)  Easy to put an icon on your desktop for these notes or any webpage; just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link from here in another tab, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today:  Working with hard drives and installing and updating programs.

  6. The operating system (OS) tells the computer what to do with program code; OSs are Windows for Microsoft and iOS for Macs; this class will only discuss Windows
  7. Windows 10 is the current version and is the only version Microsoft is updating, so older versions may have bug and virus flaws
  8. Windows 10 has several versions - Home, Professional, and others; to see which you have type "windows version" (without the quotes) into the search box (lower left corner); You see a list of about 30 items including the Windows 10 version and System Type (x64, x32, etc.) -- For some programs you need to know which type, 64-bit or 32-bit, to install  
  9. For much more information about your Windows type "Control Panel" into the search box, then go to System and Security 
  10. Windows 10 usually updates itself when you are online, but you can stop this, if you need to   
  11. Belarc Advisor -- -- free program for personal use that gives a report of everything on your computer, both hardware and software, including licenses   
  12. Drivers are small programs that connect your computer to devices such as monitor, printer, and speakers; helpful to keep them updated
  13. Installed program categories -- utilities, office, photo, audio, video, etc -- will show a free program below that tells you which of your installed programs have updates available   
  14. For programs you don't need anymore, uninstall them so they don't take up space and your computer runs faster -- a good free program to uninstall other programs is -- Free Revo Uninstaller 
  15. Portable programs -- these run from a flash drive, so don't have to be installed on your computer

  17. Available from -- free for private use and very helpful; has a commercial version, too 
  18. Includes a hard drive checker and defragger, an updater to show which installed programs have updates available, a place to download updates, and many more features
  19. Keeps track of how long it takes your computer to boot up each time
  20. Hard drive cleanup for errors can be run periodically, e.g. weekly 
  21. Run defrag every few months; fragmentation of hard drive means that files get stored in pieces, not together, so it takes longer to put them together to run them; defragging puts all the pieces of each file together
  22. New solid state hard drives don't need defrragging

  24. Eliminate duplicates as we discussed in previous classes
  25. If your computer has really slowed down, backup all your files to a separate device and reformat your hard drive and reinstall Windows and your programs -- takes time, but your computer will usually run much faster 
  26. Remember that deleting files on your computer just moves them to the Recycle Bin, so they still take up space until you empty the recycly bin
  27. Downloading freeware -- be careful and only download from sites you trust and watch what you install; use Custom Installation, rather than the Standard Installation, so it doesn't add other programs and change your default settings
  28. YouTube tutorial  on 10 things that can help your computer (12 minutes) -- -- good tutorial, some technical stuff, but most is understandable; click to Skip the Ads  

  30. 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. 
  31. Computer maintenance and updates take time, but saves you time and grief in the long run. 

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