Tech@Work: Computer Maintenance is a Must

Three steps keep your desktop, notebook in tip-top shape.

May 1, 1999

Most people invest time and money to maintain their homes, cars, lawns, and appliances, but they often expect to use a computer for years without a thought toward keeping it in good working order.

Yet, for real estate practitioners whose all-important contact information or company records are computerized, I can’t overemphasize the importance of maintenance. Follow three easy steps to keeping your machine running efficiently.

1. Maintain your hard disk.

Everything unique to your computer is stored on your hard drive. If it gets too cluttered, your system will run more slowly and crash more often, so you may lose valuable data.

Windows comes with two utilities, Scandisk and Defrag, that help monitor, detect, and correct serious problems with your hard disk. The easiest way to access those utilities is to

  • Double click the My Computer icon on your desktop
  • Click the right mouse button on the disk of your choice--usually the “C” drive
  • Select “Properties” from the menu. You’ll be presented with a nice colored pie chart detailing your disk usage. Select the “Tools” folder tab to check for errors (Scandisk) and defragment your drive, which organizes your information for greater speed and efficiency.

2. Clean the registry.

Simply, the registry is a file where your Windows operating system keeps track of information about your system: its configuration and the programs you’ve installed.

The registry is important to the smooth operation of your computer and is often to blame when your system doesn’t run well. The longer you own a computer and the more programs you install, the more changes are made to the registry. Unfortunately, as programs modify the registry, errors and inaccuracies occur. And when you remove software from your system, the “uninstall” function often doesn’t delete those programs as it should. Thus, there’s a need to clean the registry occasionally.

Microsoft offers a free utility, RegClean, that checks and cleans the registry file. Download a copy at http://support.microsoft.com/download/support/mslfiles/RegClean.exe , or search for RegClean.exe while at the Microsoft Web site and download a copy.Read the help documentation before you start the registry cleaning process. (Other utility programs--Norton, Nuts & Bolts--can also clean the registry.)

3. Keep your notebook battery in top condition.

If you use a notebook computer, it’s crucial that you “condition” the internal battery. To receive the maximum battery life, drain the battery entirely at least once a month by running it until it doesn’t run anymore. Some notebooks have utilities for draining the battery.

Draining prevents many computers from thinking the battery is near dead when it’s not. And in many machines, draining is necessary to recalibrate the computer’s internal battery meter (check your owner's manual). Then the computer can gauge the remaining battery charge, and you can rely on the reading.

In addition to instructing GRI programs, Stephen Canale has spoken at hundreds of seminars in 45 states, covering subjects relating to real estate sales and technology. For more information on his products, newsletter, and seminars, visit www.canale.com.

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