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4.1. A regular planned maintenance and backup routine will help your computer run smoothly and can help to minimise the consequences should a disaster occur. It all sounds simple but it is easy to overlook less obvious points. Fortunately there are a number of tools available to help provided with Windows and a good choice of freeware utilities obtainable by downloading from the internet. A home computer user does not need to buy utilities for most tasks.

4.2. What are the tasks making up the routine? The core of a routine will be based on removing redundant files and defragmenting the hard drive. Some data files need compacting, notably Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail. When these tasks have been completed the system and data will be in the right condition to be backed up to a safe location.

4.3. A disk cleaning utility will remove temporary files but from time to time you may want to remove old data files of no future interest, which have been created by particular programmes. Outlook and Windows Live Mail can generate large numbers of unwanted mail in the inbox and emptying the deleted items folder and removing spam messages periodically is desirable.

4.4. Before embarking on maintenance it is worth mentioning that the way you organise the placing of files on your hard drive can impact on the time taken to carry out routine maintenance and the taking of backups. Having two medium sized drives rather than one large drive has a number of advantages, notably added protection from the consequences of a hard drive failure. It also aids easy separation of programmes and data. Archiving pictures to a separate partition may also be helpful. As solid state drives become cheaper this type of planning will become increasingly beneficial.
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