If you've been using your personal computer for quite some time now, chances are that you may have noticed marked slowdowns in its operation. The more files you create or download into your computer, the less storage space your computer's hard disks have. Because of this, your computer will definitely experience slowdown. Useless junk files accumulate constantly on your hard disks - these include system generated hidden files, duplicate files, duplicate registry entries and even links to programs that are no longer there. Surfing the Internet also pollutes your computer with unwanted tracking cookies and temporary Internet files that are stored on your hard disk. In cases like this where heavy computer use is a reality, the best course of action would be to regularly maintain your hard disk by keeping it free and clear of unwanted files.
- Built-in hard disk scanner. The simplest thing to do would be to access the built in hard disk scanner, which comes with Microsoft Windows. This can be accessed by clicking My Computer, and right-clicking the hard disk you would like to clean up. Click on Properties, which appears in the resulting menu, then click on the Tools tab and select Error Checking. This tool scans your hard disk for physical problems or bad clusters that can corrupt data. These bad clusters or sectors can be recovered to a certain extent, so all hope is not lost.
- Disk Cleanup option. The next tool you can use is the Disk Cleanup option. With this tool, the system scans your hard disk for the usual suspects that clutter your computer - temporary Internet files, old setup files, and certain Windows components that you won't be able to use anymore. This tool will then present you with an accurate breakdown of which items you would like to delete or clean up, so the choice is entirely up to you. It also gives a graphical representation of approximately how much space is left on your hard disk.
- Disk defragmenter. The final tool you can use is the disk defragmenter. Over time, certain files in your computer will become fragmented data - this means that the data exists, but is not in its proper place on your hard drive. Having a heavily fragmented hard drive can also be the result of rampant download and deleting activity as well. If your hard drive is fragmented, your computer will definitely run slower than when you initially bought it. The tool will analyze the hard disk, and then it will begin to defragment the disk, putting the data where it should be. Once the process is finished, you should notice a marked improvement in your computer's performance.
There are a number of free hard disk utilities readily available for download on the Internet. Quite a number of these are trial versions, which will expire after a certain amount of time has passed. You can use this time to evaluate the software. If you like how it works for your system, you still have the option to buy. Try out a number of different hard disk management programs to see which suits your needs best.