Getting your computer to work better... - Veterinary Practice
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Getting your computer to work better…

ADAM BERNSTEIN offers some basic instruction on steps to take to get your computer to function more efficiently

CONSIDERING that it’s only 25 years or so since computers really started to ingratiate themselves into our lives, it’s frightening how reliant we’ve become on them.

Whether it’s for e-mail, online banking, web ordering, a database or plain old word processing, when the computer fails, we are lost. So what simple steps can you take to keep your computer – PC or Mac – in good order?

Windows PCs, more so than Apple Macs, need regular maintenance. As programs get loaded, files are used or the system crashes, faults and inefficiencies develop. To work well, the computer needs to be given a regular – monthly – “spring clean”. You can do this yourself with the in-built applications of “disk defragmenter”, “disk cleanup” and “error checking”.

Reorganising the hard drive

Disk defragmenter reorganises the files on the hard drive so that like files are stored together; this saves time loading data from the hard drive as the computer is not having to hunt in different places for fragments of a file. Disk cleanup looks for old files – temporary files and old back-up files, etc. – that can be deleted and which will free up space: a full hard drive works inefficiently.

Error checking scans a hard drive for problems with the computer’s system files and also looks for bad (failed) sectors on the hard drive, which are then marked so that nothing is written to them.

Disk defragmenter and disk cleanup are found in Windows 7 by clicking on the Windows start button and navigating to “all programs”, then “accessories” followed by “system tools”. Error checking is found by right clicking in “file explorer” on the hard drive, selecting “properties” and then “tools”.

On a Mac, the process is much simpler as Mac OS X runs these routine housekeeping tasks for you in the background. However, if you do want to run the processes yourself, the best way is through a free piece of software called Onyx that you can download from

Increasing the speed

The faster a gadget is toted as being able to run, the more we want to make it go even faster and computers are most definitely ripe for this. Both Windows and Mac can be tweaked.

You can make Windows 7 go much faster by disabling things such as “search indexing”, the “aero” theme, “user account control”, “aero peek” and “snap”, the Windows 7 sidebar, any unwanted visual effects, any unwanted services, any unwanted features and much more. Without going into reams of detail, you can see exactly what to do if you visit this website: It’s not as hard as it sounds. Of course, if you turn everything off, you’ll have a duller user experience, but the computer will be much faster.

There’s less to alter on a Mac but, nevertheless, you can give your Apple a boost. Make sure that you are running the latest version of the Mac OS X operating system; if you’re still on “leopard”, install, albeit 18 months late, “snow leopard” and consider going to “lion” now that it has been released.

Also ensure that you have all the interim software updates: Apple is forever tinkering and adding new enhancements and bug fixes (yes, even Apple computers need fixes). Consider also removing any unnecessary startup items by turning off log-in items – navigate to the “apple menu”, then “system preferences”, then “accounts”, then “Login items”.

You can also disable dashboard widgets – look at the bottom left of your dock and click on the black round disk icon, click on the “x” on the bottom far left of the screen and then the “x” on each of the widgets; each widget takes up system resource.

Finally, repair the ownerships and permissions of files on the hard drive. Do this by booting up from the OS X install disk and use the “disk utility” to repair ownerships and permissions.

To do this you’ll need to restart your Mac and immediately press the “command-option-shift-delete” keys. In “disk utility”, highlight the disk you want and the repair options will appear.

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