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You can do IT in laterlife 


Getting the most from your computerYou can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.

Jackie has also written the books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s. 

Every day computer activitiesVia Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her 

Or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too..

View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers



March 2012

This month, I am going to give you some general tips on keeping your computer in tip-top condition and minimising any problems with hardware, software or when using your machine for day-to-day activities.

1. Do not disconnect hardware that is active. For example, if you have been moving files between computers on a memory stick, or accessing camera photos, don't simply pull out the device when you feel like it. Many machines offer you a "Safely Remove Hardware" link in the Taskbar that you can click. When it runs, it will identify all plugged-in devices and, after selecting the one you want to remove, will close it down and then tell you when it is safe to remove it. If you do just pull it out, you may lose your data as it will not have been closed or saved properly.

2. Update your anti-virus software regularly. You may think it does this automatically, but if not, you will soon be in a great deal of trouble. Make sure by opening the control panel now and again (just double-click the icon for the software on your desktop or in the quick launch section of the taskbar) and click Update, then check any settings menu to make sure this is set to update regularly.

3. Keep a good amount of disk space free to carry out your computing activities. If you have filled your hard disk with hundreds of files and programs, you may find it cannot cope when you switch between activities or want to work on a large file. This is because it uses the extra disk space as temporary storage. (For the technical amongst you, it creates memory 'swap space'.) If the space gets to below about 15% of the entire disk, you need to make some more room. Here are various options:


Install a second disk drive or buy an external one and use this to store large programs and files
b. Delete all unwanted files, and store pictures etc on separate storage media such as CDs and DVDs rather than the main disk
c. Run the disk cleanup and defrag utilities regularly to get rid of unwanted data and sort out fragmented files.

4. Don't run too many programs at start-up. This just slows down your computer each time you want to get to work. You can always run a program when you actually need it. To remove unwanted programs that run each time you switch on (often unknowingly, in the background), go to Start, select Run and type in msconfig. This will open up the System Configuration Utility window.

system configuration utility

On the Startup tab, you can deselect any programs you don't want starting up each time.

5. Check your sources. There is lots of software out there that is free or very cheap and looks very useful or fun, but you have no idea where it comes from and so no idea if it will run properly or will actually harm your computer. If you want to avoid problems, it may be best to spend a little more money and stick to properly registered and identified programs from reliable suppliers or websites.

6. Use the Uninstall option. You probably have far too many programs installed on your computer that you no longer need or use, and it is a good idea to get rid of them. Either do this via the Start – Programs menu (the folder containing the program will often include an Uninstall utility you can use) or go to Control Panel – Add or Remove Programs, select the unwanted ones from the list and click Remove. (Don't open the named folder in your Programs section and delete the files manually as this can cause problems with shared files.)

7. Start filing. It is never too late to organise your files and folders and it will ALWAYS save time in the end. You can carry out similar operations to store files, email messages and favourite websites (bookmarks) as they all work on the same principal:


Decide on the hierarchy you want from the main folder to subfolders and sub-sub folders.
b. In any top-level folder such as My Documents or Inbox, select all the relevant messages or files (by holding Ctrl as you select each one in turn) and move them into their new folder destinations. You can usually right-click the mouse to offer a Move option, or use Cut and Paste or the Folder options window.
c. In future, make sure you save new files, bookmarks or messages into their destination folders straight away, rather than storing them first of all in the top-level folder as this simply makes more work later.


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