PCs too need cleaning

BESIDES THE physical PC clean, equally important is the `spiritual' side of the personal computer — its ticking heart and its software soul. But there is another reason why regular cleaning on the innards of the PC is vital. This is to protect your privacy. For starters, use the free cleaning tools that come with the Windows operating system of the IBM type PC. In the latest version, Windows XP, the `disk cleanup' utility can be reached by looking under `All Programs'— `Accessories' — `System Tools'. It is good to run this at least once a week. It will empty the recycle bin, remove downloaded programme files that are no longer being used and erase all `temporary' files. It tells you how many MB each cleanup operation will release.

What Disk Cleanup will not do is to empty the cache that gets filled every time you surf the Web with Netscape or Internet Explorer. This keeps a copy of every page you visited and even an hour's surfing will generate a cache of 30-50 MB. The only way to empty the cache is to access it with the browser. In Netscape, go to `Edit'— `Preferences' — , `Advanced'— `Cache'— and press the `Clear Memory Cache' and `Clear Disk Cache' buttons.

In IE, go to `Tools'— `Internet Options' — `Temporary Internet files' and press the `Delete files' and `Delete Cookies' buttons.

Another utility that many users never exploit is the `Defrag' option in Windows. It can be found in the same `System Tools' folder where `Disk Cleanup is placed'. This essentially packs up the data on the hard disk tightly, reducing the space wasted on gaps. In other words it defragments the disk. Typically one does a defrag once a year. If you invoke the tool, Windows will first do an audit of your hard drive and tell you whether you would gain anything from a defrag operation.