Today, I am celebrating a small victory! I got thru 95% of my Favorites folder!
It is important to celebrate each step you take (no matter what you are trying to accomplish).

Today we are going to talk about defrag.
You may not know exactly what it is or what it does – but after today, you will be able to explain this program without using any technical terms.

Defrag is a system tool that comes with MOST versions of Windows. Download.com does have a free download of this program, so if you find that your system doesnt have it, you can download it there.

There are two ways to get to this tool:
1-Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools
2-By navigating within Windows Explorer. If you right click on C: you will find a menu > Select Properties > Tools

DEFRAG EXPLANATION – A SIMPLE VISUALIZATION
A simple way to explain what Defrag is, is to compare your computer to a filing cabinet. Imagine for a moment, that each time you open a program, you physically open a folder located in your filing cabinet.

So, you open a document that you already had saved OR you are creating a new document…Think about that as well in terms of a filing cabinet. Now, imagine yourself typing and saving your work. Let me remind you at this time to save early AND often!

Each time you open OR save your document it is saving it to any free spaces on your hard drive. Over the course of time, these saved “pieces” or “chunks of work” are scattered all across your hard drive.

So, in terms of our filing cabinet visualization, each time we are saving that document-we are spreading our files across many drawers. If you have a filing cabinet nearby, go over and look in a couple of the drawers…Ill wait

So, are your files nice and neat? Or does it literally look like everyone with access forgot to straighten up? With almost all of us, those files have been used, looked at and then pushed back down real quick. Some of our folders may have some papers still sticking out…not allowing us to view the folder name.

When your filing cabinet has papers all sticking up and not in order, it may take a little longer to find what we are looking for. And if you just “plop” files any place in the drawer, it may take you several minutes to locate what you are looking for.

This is true for your computer as well. When your computer files are degragmented, it means alot of your files are scattered across your hard drive and need to be straightened up.

Defragging basically takes all your programs and folders and straightens each paper in each file. If there are “pieces” of your files scattered throughout the system, it will gather them all and put them together all “nice and neat”.

To even better describe how this works, it is most appropriate that we went thru our filing cabinets last week. If you were like me, you were able to clear out some space in your filing cabinets. All this new empty space created a spot. Theres a few things we can do with this newly empty area. Will we fill it with new files? Will we scoot up the back to hold up our files and keep the empty space?

With a computer, each time you open or save a file, it uses that new empty space, scattering or piecing it all over the place. Sometimes we complain when opening a program file if it takes so long. If you havent ran a defrag in a few months or EVER, it is no surprise that your file takes a minute or so to get it together!

NOW THAT YOU KNOW, CLOSE OPEN PROGRAMS, AND GO!
A few tips to help defrag run a little faster:
– Close all open programs
– Turn off your screensaver
– Restart your computer
– Dont watch your computer!!

Defragging your system (that means ALL drives if you have more than 1) can take hours. Be prepared!

I suggest not watching your computer run while this is going on! Not only is this boring, you may wonder why you get to 80% and then BAM, back to 5%. This is typical.

Remember, your computer stores your file wherever the next “blank” spot is on your hard drive. If part of your file is near the “beginning” of the drive, your system collects all that it sees at the time, and moves on. Then it will go along and hit another piece of your file, it has to go back to your file – “straighten” it, and move on again.

This could occur several times, and is really frustrating to watch! So, use this time away from your computer to go outside-smell some “fresh” air, talk to people in person!

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First, congratulations to all of you who made it thru the Lingering Paperwork Project so far. A shopping list will be coming – and we will be revisiting that topic on the 16th.

Today, we will be discussing your Favorites folder. Dont look at me like that!
This is a subject very near and dear to my heart (remember the “good ole days” of AOL?).

I, for one, have to admit – that I am a Favorites collector.

There! Ive said it! Whew-I feel much better….well, not really-I have a ton of links I cant find! Since we all fall short on time, and cant get to everything we see, we are known for saving it to your favorites for “later” (which, have you noticed NEVER comes?)

I even thought I was doing good- I made a “To Look at ASAP” folder to put em in. Do you know how funny that was? If, nothing else, I made THAT folder overflow to the point IT scrolled a few times.

Well, it doesnt take long for that to get old. I decided one day to go thru my Favorites and clean them out! I wasnt even setting out to ultra-organize them-that sorta just happened naturally.

HERE WE GO….
First, make sure that you have an internet connection and have some time (this depends on how many sites you have saved).

PUT THE TOP DOWN
Now, I recommend starting from the top-so you dont lose your place. This is for those of us who are compulsive savers!

Click on the first site you have saved….if the link doesnt go anywhere (you get a page removed error) you can delete this now.

YOU HAVE THE POWER!!
Go back into your “Faves”
Right click that site
Select delete.
Thats ONE down!

FEELS GOOD – DOESNT IT?
Alright, it might not feel good to do JUST one…thats why you keep going!

SOMETIMES SHORTER IS BETTER!
Yep, you heard it here! It pays to be short.

Do you have sites saved where the name just goes on and you cant even tell what it really is for? Well, this next little tip will shorten that name in no time!

WHATS YOUR NAME AGAIN?
First-click on the site. Once you see what the page is, go back into it in your Favorites, right click and select rename, type what you want it called-hit enter.

DONT DESPAIR!
Sometimes, your site will put itself at the end of your list-so if you go click on your Favorites again, it may look like it has disappeared. Remember this later, so you dont think you saved it twice and delete it.

FILE ON THE FLY
Even better – you can organize it right there, on the spot.
Now, I tend to save it to the folder as I am renaming, but that may be a little advanced for some of you. So heres a crash course….

Instead of renaming the file by right clicking it, you can re-add it and organize at the same time. Say your next site saved, needs to have its Name and location changed.

Well, just click on it to bring the site up. Check it out and choose what your gonna call it. (Example: http://www.lincolnspeedway.com is Named Lincoln in my Favorites)

So, you click on: Favorites > Add to Favorites
In the box that pops up- Type chosen Name
Then decide whether or not you have a folder already for it (just navigate to it)
Or will you make a new folder?

Once you have decided where to place the site, you will need to delete the original site saved. Now, just repeat this process along with deleting the “dead” links.

SERIOUSLY, A BREAK ALREADY
If I havent done this in awhile, I will set a time limit between breaks. This time will vary due to physical limitations and other obligations.

BORING!
Since this is a dull process and you really shouldnt surf these sites as you are going thru them – watching tv or listening to the radio really helps with passing some of the time.

YEP, IM DOING THIS WITH YA
I estimate that it will take me approximately 2 1/2 hours to effectively organize and go thru all of my favorites. Luckily, I weaned them down last summer so I really have a thinned down list.

But you know how it goes….save a site here, save a site there.

GO THE EXTRA STEP
For an added bonus…you could alphabetize them by name by dragging them in order. However, Ive been told that Im the only person they know who does this! (If theres anyone else out there who does this, please let me know)

DONT WORRY
If you dont get thru them all tonight, choose a time each week to devote at least 15 minutes to going thru all of your Favorites. Its a chore that is always ready to do!

Keep posted! More tips on the way!

Do you know what it takes to keep your computer well? Well, if not – I have some simple tips that will help you stay away from those nasty viruses and spyware!

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Please read my paperwork blog (In 3 parts). This may give you something to do during your “down” time.

TIPS
– Do not click on attachments from those you do not know.
I dont know why we have to keep repeating this tip, you would think most people just would delete the email with the insane subject title or wouldnt open an email from someone they dont know!

– If you get an email that seems to be from your bank, ebay, or wherever stating you need to check your account, do NOT click the link that is provided in the email!
This tip also works for links in Instant Messenger Programs.
This is a known tactic for “phishing”, which is a way for the bad guys to steal your logon information.

– Do not click on links posted to your social networking site!
This is a new tactic for phishers! I have seen these on facebook, myspace and twitter, so BEWARE!

DONT WANT TO BE SICK ANYMORE!
Now that I have some of tips out of the way, you need to decide on which anti-virus provider to use. Each one has their advantages/disadvantages….Some ISPs include virus protection. If your ISP provides this service, I recommend you use that combined with a regular online scan.

It is also important that you keep whatever anti-virus software you use up to date. New viruses are created all the time, so you need to stay on top of it!

BEFORE YOU SCAN
-Close all programs, restart your computer
-Turn off your screensaver
-Dont use your computer

Scanning can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours (even longer) depending on how big your hard drive is and how many files you have. If you have partitioned your hard drive or have multiple hard drives, you should scan those as well.

It will take longer to scan your system if you are using the computer or if your screensaver pops on. I suggest turning the screensaver off and working on something else for the time being.

Here are some FREE online scans:
BitDefender – http://www.bitdefender.com/scan8/ie.html
Panda Active Scan – http://www.pandasecurity.com/activescan/index/
PC PitStop – http://www.pcpitstop.com/pcpitstop/default.asp
TrendMicro – http://housecall.trendmicro.com/

DONT SPY ON ME!
I also recommend that you use a spyware program. Spyware is just as destructive as a virus. I use Webroot’s SpySweeper. I beleive that there is a free version thru download.com.

NOTE:
I also restart my computer and turn off the screensaver during this scan also.

FIREWALL
Not only is it important to protect your computer with anti-virus and spyware software, but it just as important to protect your computer with a firewall. You have a choice whether or not to use the version that comes with Windows, or to get third party software. I personally use a program called ZoneAlarm.

It might nag a little while you are setting it up, but it is definately worth it to know if programs are trying to contact the “outside world” or if outside programs are trying to contact your computer.

SPEAKING OF NAGS
Theres nothing worse that surfing along, minding your business when you get to a site that is pop-up heaven….If you arent paying attention, you could click on one of these pop-ups – and a number of things could happen…

– you could trigger a pop-up avalanche! Clicking on one, normally causes more to pop-up. You will definately know if youve triggered an avalanche!

– you could trigger a download for software you do not want installed
(Mostly spyware related)

The point being, you should install a pop-up blocker. Again, many ISPs provide this software. Some of the more popular search portals also provide pop-up blockers in their “toolbars”.

I recommend using the pop-up blocker software provided by your ISP. There are many aspects of “toolbars” that resemble spyware as well as include options that are unnecessary.

ESTABLISHING A ROUTINE
Yea, Yea….Im still on this routine stuff. However, if you use your computer alot-this really needs to be stressed. Make sure that you set your anti-virus, spyware sweeper and firewall to automatically update and scan.

Once you pick a day and time for everything to update and scan, put a sticky on your monitor so you remember to leave your computer on so the work can be done when you are not using it.

TOMORROWS TOPIC
Your favorites list!
Guess what were gonna do?

I know Im almost done with my Lingering Paperwork project, but I just have to tell you how excited I am about next week! My “passion” is computers! I will be sharing some computer related tips that even newbies will understand.

Most people will say that they are addicted to their computers…like their email, their myspace/facebook, or just addicted to lurking online. However, there are some things that will make those activities just a little more enjoyable.

There are several topics for next week that are sure to get some of you motivated!
I will be going over virus protection, explaining defrag and scandisk, introducing you to new ways to organize your computer files, and helping you back up your files.

I know we wont get to every topic I would like to in just a week, but I hope to revisit them later on in the year.

I also have plans to give gentle reminders for those of you who wish to continue using the tips I will be providing next week. Like anything, sometimes we need to establish a routine in order to change habits.

I hope that at the end of next week, you will understand why we need to keep our computers organized also!