Cleaning Out Your Computer

Note: When I refer to the Control Panel, I assume that it is in the Classic View. Windows XP normally provides the Category View. When you go to Control panel, in the left pane you're see either SWITCH to CLASSIC VIEW or SWITCH to CATEGORY VIEW. Click on CLASSIC VIEW if it's presented. That will show the icons necessary to perform some of the functions listed below for the Control Panel.


Introduction: There are many ways that unneeded files can accumulate in your computer. This is especially true if you use the Internet a lot, add and remove programs or files or shut down your computer by just removing power as in a power failure. We’ll review some of the most basic ways to free up space on your hard drive.

Programs: You can’t just delete programs from the PROGRAM FILES folder because when they are installed they install other files and modify the registry. To remove unwanted programs, go to START/CONTROL PANEL/ADD OR REMOVE PROGRAMS. There you will see a list of all of the programs that have been installed since the last operating system (Windows) installation. If you find a program that you want to remove, click on it in the listing and then click on CHANGE/REMOVE in the box on the right. If you see programs and you don’t know what they are, click on the program, then click on CLICK HERE FOR SUPPORT INFORMATION. That will open a box that reveals who created the program and will give you a link to their web site. Go there to learn about what the program is. If that doesn’t satisfy you, try entering the program name in Google or Yahoo and see if there is further information that will tell you what the program does. If your computer is a replacement for one that failed, it may well be a returned lease unit that will have many programs on it added by the lessee that may very well be uncommon or unique to a specific business.

Programs removed this way do not go to the RECYCLE bin so check to see if you have a program CD if you think that you may want to re-install it some day. If you installed it from a download on the Internet, check to see if you still have the original downloaded installation file on your computer or save on a CD.

Email: In Outlook Express, go to TOOLS/OPTIONS and click on the MAINTENANCE TAB and then click on the box that says STORE FOLDER. That is where your email is all stored. You can save that folder to a CD before you delete all of your email if you want to have a record of what you’ve done over the years. Otherwise, you can open Outlook Express, click on each folder and individually select each message to be deleted or select one message and click on EDIT/SELECT ALL to select all of the messages. Right click in the selected message area and drag it to the Deleted Items Folder. Repeat for all of the messages that you want to delete and then click on EMPTY DELETED ITEMS FOLDER under EDIT or by right clicking the Deleted Items Folder.

Data and Images: Look through your folders for data or images you no longer want or need to keep on your hard drive. Either delete them or save them first to a CD and then delete them. To find all of your Word files, for instance, go to START/SEARCH and then click on DOCUMENTS (Wordprocessor etc) and enter .Doc in the SEARCH box. Right click on any that you want to delete and then click on DELETE. When you delete them, they go to the Recycle Bin so you have to dump that too to gain space.

Disk Cleanup: Go to MY COMPUTER and right click on the C: drive (Usually Local Disk C:). Then click on PROPERTIES and then the box labeled DISK CLEANUP. There will be a pause while it figures out much disk space can be regained. Check each box for folders that you want emptied and clock OK.

Repeat the above steps but after selecting PROPERTIES, click on TOOLS and perform the actions listed there starting with the disk check.

Conclusion: Those are the most basic actions; others include searching for duplicate files, looking for unneeded processes and of course, deleting spyware, worms and viruses.

Pastfinders Program CD


This CD contains files downloaded from the Internet that are free for non-commercial use. In each case the file has to be run to install the program on your computer. In some cases, access to the Internet may be required. It also has all of the programs conducted by the Computer Users’ Group.


Programs on the Disk

Firefox: An Internet browser similar to Internet Explorer but considered by some to be less prone to attack.

GoogleEarth: A program that lets you zoom in an any location in the world and see an aerial view of it. Works best with high speed connection.

Irfan View: A graphics program that allows you to edit images, resize them, convert them either singly or as a batch of images, see thumbnails in any of several sizes and more.

NVU: A web page design program; it’s as easy to use as any word processor and it saves your file in an Internet Ready format.

Open Office: Similar to Microsoft Office it has Writer which reads and writes Word DOC files. Also includes counterparts to Excel, PowerPoint and others.

Personal Ancestral File (PAF): The genealogical record program of the Mormon Church. It creates charts and reports and it imports and exports GEDCOM files. It includes a relationship calculator and several other useful features.

Picasa:. It is a program that will search your computer for image files and create thumbnails of them for viewing. It does not move the files but it indexes them where they are. No longer will you have to search your computer for images; they will all be viewable in one place. The program lets you create slide shows. Email images, create a CD etc. It has some editing capabilities for image correction. A must for anyone with a digital camera.

Double click on the Icon to install it. It may require access to the Internet before it can be installed.

Send to: When you Right Click on a file name, you are presented with a list of options, one of which is Send To but the list of destinations is limited. This Send To program adds Any Folder to the list of options from which you can select any folder on your computer, making it easy to move or copy a file anywhere you want.

Thunderbird: This is an email program like Outlook Express but it includes Spam Filtering. You can select not to download files that you don’t want.

Uncle GED: In order to place your genealogy on the Internet, you need to convert it to HTML code. PAF will do it for you and so will Uncle Ged.

Zone Alarm: This is a firewall program that goes beyond the one that Microsoft added to Windows XP. This one can prevent your computer from calling out as well as blocking inbound attempts to break in.

Installation: Start by creating a folder on your computer called TEMP if one doesn’t already exist. You can copy all of the files from the CD to the TEMP folder or you can install all but one directly from the CD. In all installations, the installation program will offer a place where it will install the program unless you choose a different folder. Unless you have a good reason not to, accept the folder and file name suggested by the installation program. The one exception to this is NVU which will list the CD as the place to extract the files. Change that destination to be the TEMP folder that you created. Then run the NVU file from that folder after all the files have been extracted.

Computer Users’ Group: Includes all of the programs since January, 2002. To view the Computer Users’ Group programs, double click on the Computer Users’ group folder and then click on the file called START. Click on any date to see the program for that date.