basic pc maintenance and backup

basic pc maintenance and backup
Lesson 1
Table of Contents
Lesson 1: Computer Maintenance, Printing, and Finding Help
Disk Clean-up, Error-Checking, Defragmentation ........................................2, 3
Learn the Details of Your Computer .................................................................4
Printing from a Computer ..............................................................................4, 5
Finding Help for Computer Problems ........................................................ 6 - 8
Lesson 2: Backing up Your Computer
Back-up Media ...................................................................................................9
Important Files to Back Up ...............................................................................9
How to Back up Documents to a Flash Drive (Tutorial) ......................... 10 - 12
Automatic Backups with Windows 7 ..............................................................13
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
Maintenance Tasks for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7
In order to keep a computer running smoothly, certain maintenance tasks should be
completed on a regular basis. The list below explains a few of the most important tasks
and gives steps for completing them.
1. Clean out unneeded files using Disk Cleanup
Every month
To open the Disk Cleanup program: In Windows XP, click the Start button -- Computer.
Right click the main disc drive, usually C drive. Click Properties. In Vista and Windows
7, click the Start button and type Disk Cleanup in the Search box at the bottom of the
Start menu.
Click Disk Cleanup to calculate how much
space may be gained by removing unneeded
files. After the list appears, click to place
checkmarks next to items to remove. (All
items are safe to remove.) Click OK. Wait
while Windows removes your files.
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
2. Correct errors on your hard disk using Error-Checking.
As needed
This is useful if your computer you shuts down unexpectedly, as with a crash or power
failure. It will fix errors that might have occurred because the computer didn't have time
to clean up the hard disk before shutting down.
Follow the same steps as in number 1 to get to the C drive Properties. Click the Tools tab
at the top of the Properties window. Under Error-checking, put check marks in the first
box (plus the second box, if your computer has a noticeable problem), and click Check
When you attempt to run Error-checking (also called Scan Disk), you will get a message
that says, “Error-checking could not be performed at this time, etc. Do you want to do
this the next time the computer starts?” Click “Yes” and this check will be completed the
next time you turn on your computer.
3. Speed up access to files using Defragmentation.
XP and Vista: rarely
Win 7: Automatic
Defragmentation re-aligns pieces of files that get stored in different places each time you
add data to a file, such as typing more words into a document. Defragging helps to speed
up your computer. It is done occasionally unless a computer is running slowly.
Follow the same steps as in number 1 to get to C drive Properties. Click the Tools tab at
the top of the Properties window.
Win XP and Vista: When you click Defragment Now, a window opens with two
choices: Analyze or Defragment. Choose Analyze. The computer will determine whether
you need to defragment at this time. If you do, the message will be “You need to defrag
this drive.” If not, it will say, “You do not need to defragment the drive at this time.”
Windows 7: Windows 7
automatically defragments your
drive at regular intervals. You
can also change the schedule for
defragmentation by clicking
Configure Schedule.
Windows 7 Disk Defragmentation window
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
Learn the Details of Your Computer
A good way to get detailed information about your computer is to download from the
Internet and run Belarc Advisor, a small, free program that creates a current profile of
your computer when ever you run it. Here are the instructions:
1. Go to Click the Downloads link at the top of the home page.
2. Scroll to the bottom of the list of downloads.
3. Click the Download button under Belarc Advisor.
4. Click Save. The program, called advisor.exe, will be saved in your Downloads folder.
5. To find this folder, click the Start button, then click the computer owner's name in the
right pane, then click Downloads. Advisor.exe should be the top item on the list.
6. Double click Advisor.exe, then click Run.
7. First, any previous versions of Belarc Advisor will be removed from your computer.
Then the advisor creates a profile of your computer, with many details and comments on
the status of your system. This takes a few seconds to complete. You can print the results
page and keep it as reference when calling a support person.
In Windows 7, another way to check the current status of your
computer's maintenance and security is to open the Action Center
(Security Center in Vista). To open it, click the tiny flag in the
notification center (bottom right of the taskbar). Here you will find messages from
Microsoft about how your computer is running and how secure it is. They are colorcoded (Red means Fix it now!)
Regardless of the type and manufacturer of your printer, similar options are available
when you click File | Print.
Name of
of Copies
pages to
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
The Print Window
The parts of this window can be important to you.
1. The Printer section: Here you choose the printing device where you want the
output to go. Most of us have only one printer, but you should still notice that its
name is listed in the upper box. Clicking Properties will take you to the printer
settings area described below, where you can change the quality of the type, the
page orientation, and other settings.
2. The Page Range section: Here you decide whether you wish to print the entire
file or just certain pages. This is useful if you have a multi-page document and
only wish to print pages 1 – 3, for example. Click in the button next to Pages, and
type in the specific page numbers you want. You can be very selective, such as 1,
3, 5 – 8.
3. The Copies section is where you choose how many copies of the document you
want. Click the up and down arrows or type in a number. 1 is the factory setting
When you install your printer software, Windows automatically sets the printer up to
print with predetermined factory settings. A printer usually has the ability to print in
Draft, Normal, and Best settings, and to print in grayscale or color. The factory default
settings for an inkjet printer usually are “Normal” and “Color.”
DRAFT, NORMAL, OR BEST: Experience has shown that most of the time,
documents can be printed in Draft with little loss of quality. The advantage is that your
printer will run faster and that less ink will be used. The Best setting is recommended for
photo printing. To change the default setting to “Draft," look for a button in the Print
window that says Properties. Click it and adjust the print quality.
COLOR OR GRAYSCALE: When web pages are printed, they are rendered in the
same colors that appear on the screen. Oftentimes a web page is printed for informational
purposes and can be printed in “grayscale," thus saving your color cartridge. You will
usually find the grayscale option in the Properties window, as described above.
PORTRAIT or LANDSCAPE: Most printers will print a page with either a vertical
orientation (Portrait) or a horizontal orientation (landscape). This can be adjusted in the
Properties window. Portrait is the factor setting. Sometimes when printing directly from
the Internet, pages are too wide for portrait orientation. Switching to landscape can print
the entire width of the page.
Generally, these properties revert back to factory settings after the current print job.
Check your settings to make sure this is true for your printer.
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
When you encounter a problem with your computer, don't call the expensive experts until
you have tried one of the Help options listed below.
1. The Windows Help and Support Center To access the Help and Support Center in all versions of Windows, click START - Help
and Support.
The Help Center in Windows XP offers three different ways looking for help.
 You can browse through the Contents of the Help program by clicking one of the
topics under Pick a Help Topic (Win XP). This approach would be useful if you
are interested in learning about a topic or feature of Windows.
 If you have a specific name of a feature of Windows and need to know the steps
involved or information about it, then the Index would be a good option. Here
you type in a term and find all the related articles about it.
 Or, if you don’t know the official name of what you’re looking for, type a word or
phrase in the Search box, which searches the entire Help text for words that you
enter and often can help you define the problem as well as get an answer.
Windows XP also contains a Support menu called Ask for Assistance. Here you can link
to places on the Internet for help, such as Microsoft’s website or your computer
manufacturer’s Help page.
In Windows Vista and 7, the
Help and Support Center has
been improved substantially
although the opening Window is
simpler than that in XP. A
powerful Search function will
search thoroughly through the
entire Help menu (about 10,000
pages) for your search word or
phrase. The tutorials are often
automated (showing you step by
step) and instructional articles are
more comprehensive. You can
also Browse by topic if you don't
know what to put in the Search
box. In both Windows XP and
Vista, you can print sections of
Help for future reference.
Windows 7 Help and Support Home Page
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
2. Help at the Microsoft website
All versions of Windows' Help and Support Centers have a link to more help at the
Microsoft website. If you want to bypass your computer help links, you can go directly to
the Microsoft website at This page contains links to
Microsoft’s best help features:
 Search the Knowledge Base for articles on hundreds of topics related to
Microsoft products.
 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) is a section containing the questions
most often asked of Microsoft support personnel and their answers.
 Solution Centers will take you to an area where you can link to an area
dedicated to your specific MS operating system (Windows Vista) or
program (PowerPoint 2007).
 The Answers forums offer questions from users and answers by MS
experts. You can post your question there.
Take some time to browse the Microsoft website. It has been simplified to make it easier
for average computer users to find help.
3. Get Help by searching the Internet
Using Google or another search engine, you can often find an answer to a specific
problem. Type your question (What is "Error 5T - 456"?) in the search box and see where
it takes you. When you review the list of results, look carefully at the source. Not all
answers you get from unauthorized sources will be correct. It's better to start with known
companies or check a number of solutions before you settle on one.
4. Program Help
Most programs, from Microsoft or from other publishers, have a Help section, indicated
by a question mark. While the program is open, look for Help in the menu toolbar at the
top. Most of the time, these menus work much the same way as described above for
Windows help except that they contain information specific to the program you are using.
Another idea is to visit the website of the specific program’s manufacturer and look for
Support or Help.
In the good old days, products came with paper User Manuals to put on the shelf. In the
technology age, many user manuals are located on the Internet or on the installation CD
that came with the program. This is true both of software that you purchase or other
kinds of products, such as cameras, printers, or tools. Look through the documentation
that came in the box with the product for the web address which will lead you to a user
manual. Once there, you can download, save, and print the manual using Acrobat
Reader. Another option is to save the web address of the manual as a Favorite for later
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
6. The Sarasota PC User Group (SPCUG)
SPCUG offers many types of help for your computer issues. Our monthly meeting
includes several Forums where members can discuss specific topics or the Tech Forum,
where they can ask questions on their own topics. The large group presentation is
geared toward informing the members about computer topics. The Monitor is full of
helpful articles. The Saturday classes offer members a hands-on computer learning
environment or demonstrations of skills, new software and devices.
Online options include SPCUG's own online Yahoo discussion group where a member
can find answers to computer questions from other members. Go to the club website
( and click on the Yahoo group link on the home page to join this group.
The Members Helping Members list, which appears on the SPCUG website, includes
names and phone numbers of members willing to be called with questions about their
specific area of expertise. The new Tutorials link contains downloadable copies of the
Basic class lessons, plus other useful step-by-step instructions for common processes.
1. Try doing Disc Cleanup on your own computer. Be ready to report back.
2. Check out your printer's options based on today's class. Bring questions.
3. Explore the new website. Click the Tutorials link. Click the PC
Maintenance and Backup title to view the class materials for this class. You can print a
copy, if you wish.
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
Lesson 2
Once you begin to create and save files on your computer, it is important to make copies
of these files on a different computer or external device in case of a computer crash. We
call this procedure Backup. First, let's consider the types of devices where backups can be
1. One option for full back-up is an external hard drive. These days you can
purchase an internal or external hard drive of large capacity for a reasonable price.
This will allow you to back up your entire hard drive on a device that can be
removed and safely stored away from your computer.
2. Almost all new computers come with a CD-RW or DVD-RW drive. These
drives play CD or DVD disks, but can also be used to copy or “burn” data from
your hard drive to a disk. This has become a popular form of backing up data,
pictures and music. A CD holds 650 - 700MB; a DVD can hold 5 - 9 GB.
3. For a simple backup of your files, try a flash drive. One of these little devices
can hold up to 128 GB of data. They plug into a USB port on your
computer. Modern computers have several USB ports on the front and
back, identified by this symbol:
It is possible to use software programs such as Acronis True Image, to back-up your
entire computer -- programs and all files -- by creating an "image" of it. A tutorial on
how to do this is located on the SPCUG website. At least, you should back up important
data files on a regular basis, such as these:
Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, Spreadsheets, etc.
your Favorites list; Windows Live Mail message folders and Contacts
any other files, settings, or downloaded program setup files for which you don’t
have an installation disk
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
DRIVE A typical flash drive holds 2GB – 32GB of data or more
Find or create two documents and save them in the Documents folder.
1. Insert the flash drive into a USB port.
2. Click “Open folder to view files” in the AutoPlay window.
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
3. Find the Documents folder and the flash drive in the left pane.
This right pane is empty because
there are no files on the flash drive.
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
4. Click Documents. Its contents show in the right pane.
Flash drive
Your two saved
5. In the right pane, click Document 1 and hold down the mouse button
while you drag the document across to the left pane on top of the flash
drive icon until the icon is highlighted. Then let go of the button. (This is
the "Click and Drag" method.)
6. Next, in the right pane, right click Document 2. From the menu, left click
Copy, which puts Document 2 on the clipboard. Then right click the flash
drive icon in the left pane. From the menu, left click Paste. (This is the
"Copy and Paste" method.)
7. Open the flash drive window to make sure the documents arrived.
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
Windows 7 includes a Backup and Restore program which can be set up to back
up files on a regular schedule. To find this, click Start and type "backup" in the
Search box at the bottom of the Start menu. Backup and Restore will be one of
the choices. (Backup and Restore is located on the Control Panel in System and
Setting up Your First Data Backup:
1. Open the Backup and Restore program.
2. Click "Set up backup."
3. The "Select where you want to save your backup" screen appears.
4. Specify where you want to save your backup. Your best option is an external
hard drive. Flash drives with several GB of capacity are also good.
5. Click Next.
6. Click either "Let Windows choose" or "Let me choose." If you let Windows
choose, it will back up all your Libraries, plus the standard Windows data, such
as Appdata, downloads, favorites, links, saved games, etc. Your programs are not
If you select "Let me choose," you must make choices yourself.
7. Click Next. You can change the suggested backup schedule at this time.
8. Click "Save settings and start backup." Your first backup will begin and may
take several minutes.
9. Remove the media on which you backed up files and store it away from your
From now on, Windows will do your backup on the schedule which you set.
To restore files from a Windows backup, open the Backup and Restore program and click
"Restore my files." Choose those files you want restored using the Browse buttons. Click
Next and indicate where you want to put the restored files. Click "Start Restore."
1. Download and run Belarc Advisor on your computer.
2. Develop a plan for backing up your own computer files. List on paper the types of
data you have that should be backed up. Obtain the required media – such as a
flash drive or external hard drive – and do your first backup, no matter how small.
Basic Maintenance and Backup - Lesson 1
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