Computer Questions?


The following computer questions are some of the ones I get the most from users. Hopefully, there's a question and answer here which you will find helpful.
Should I defrag my computer?

Windows XP will tell you if your hard drive needs to be defragmented, so there's no guesswork. To check, do this:

  1. Go to Start, All Programs, and click on Accessories.
  2. Find Systems Tools, Disk Defragmenter and click on it.
  3. Run an analysis first by clicking the Analyze button. Go do something else while it runs.
  4. When it is done, there will be a message that says whether you need to defragment or not.
  5. If it says that you should, click on the Defragment button, and again go do something else while your computer runs this.

For Vista, it's a little different:


  1. Go to Start, All Programs, and click on Accessories.
  2. Find Systems Tools, Disk Defragmenter and click on it.
  3. Vista will ask you for permission to continue. Click Continue.
  4. Vista doesn't give you the ability to choose to defragment, it just assumes you want to and presents a schedule to do so. You can stick with the suggested schedule, or modify it.
  5. If you want to kick off the defrag process immediately, click the Defragment now button. It will then ask you which drive you want to defrag. Uncheck the drives you don't want to defrag, and then click OK.

How do I see how much space I have left on my hard drive?

I get asked this computer question after I've told someone they are having speed problems because they are out of hard disk space.

  1. Click on the Windows start button. Find My Computer and click on it.
  2. Find the C: drive and right click on it. Choose Properties from the menu.
  3. The free space will show as the pink part of the circle.

How do I change the background picture on my Windows desktop?

  1. Right click on the Windows desktop (where there is no icon).
  2. Click on Properties from the menu that appears.
  3. Click on the Desktop tab.
  4. Click the Browse… button and find the new picture you want to show on the Desktop.
  5. Click on the new picture and then click Ok.
  6. Click Apply and then Ok.

Change Desktop Picture


How do I find out how much RAM I have?

  1. Click on the Windows start button. Find My Computer and right click on it.
  2. Choose Properties from the menu.
  3. On the System dialog box, look on the bottom right hand corner of the General tab.

How do I add a new font to my computer?

Go to my Install Fonts page for these steps.



Printer

How do I find drivers for my printer or other hardware?

  • This is one of those computer questions that has a whole bunch of other questions behind it; what kind of printer? What operating system are you using? etc.. Generally though, the best place to find hardware drivers is on the hardware manufacturer’s website. For example, if you buy an older HP Deskjet 932 printer at a garage sale, you can go to www.hp.com and visit the support or driver download section. Or go to Google, and type in "hp deskjet 932 driver" and Google will bring back many places to get that driver.

Should I turn off my computer or leave it on at the end of the day?
  • Computer questions can spark off huge debates, and this is one of them. Some camps say leave your computer on, some say turn it off. I say reboot it at least every couple of days to clear and reset RAM and keep the computer running well. And at least once a week, shut it down completely for the night as it gives the computer a chance to cool off.

How do I avoid getting spam email?
  • I get lots of computer questions about spam. So I wrote a spam email page to answer them.

Why doesn’t my BACK button in Internet Explorer work sometimes?
  • This is not an Internet Explorer issue. Some websites write their web page code to load the page several times to try and keep you there. To get around this:
    1. Go to the top left hand corner of your browser window.
    2. Click on the black triangle next to your back button. It will show you a list of the last 10 web pages you have accessed during this Internet session. (If you close your browser window, this list is cleared.)
    3. Scroll down until you get past the website page that you are trying to leave and click on any previous page you came from.
This is also a great way to quickly go back to a previous web page. The picture below is an example of a list of sites visited during an Internet session.


How do I tell how big a file or folder is?
  • Right click on the file or folder and click on Properties. On the Properties dialog box, in the middle of the General tab, it will show the size.

My computer won't hold the correct date and time. I have to keep resetting it. Why?

Your computer's CMOS battery is dying. You'll need to replace it. This CMOS page will tell you how.


How does a flash drive work?
  • A flash drive is a small device that can be used as a file storage place. It plugs into the USB ports on your computer and once loaded, it sets itself up as another drive letter (usually E: or F:). You can then copy files to and from it just like any other drive. I use my flash drive for all sorts of computer tasks: copying files to take to another computer, storing computer questions, etc. It's basically a portable storage method like a CD or a floppy disk, but much better. I LOVE my flash drives, and I appreciate it when I get these kinds of computer questions so I can go on and on about how great flash drives are. :) Here's a Kingston Digital 16 GB USB 2.0 Hi-speed Datatraveler Flash Drive DT101G2/16GBZ, Black on Amazon.

    Flash drives are great, but the new external portable hard drives are even better, because they are more reliable. I wrote a page on the basics of computer backups using one of these drives.


The Windows Taskbar is in a strange place. How do I move it back to where it was?

Some computer questions are better answered in person, but I'll give this one a shot.. Here's how to drag it back:

  1. First, make sure the task bar isn't "locked" in place. Using your mouse, right click on the taskbar some place where there is no icon ( in the blank space on the bar). A menu will come up and it should have a setting called "Lock the Taskbar". If that setting has a check next to it, the taskbar is locked in place. To remove the check, left click on the setting, and the check will be removed.
  2. Once you have made sure the taskbar is unlocked, you can now move it.
  3. To move it, use your mouse to left click somewhere on the task bar where there are no icons (again in a "blank" space). While holding the left mouse button down, move the mouse down as if you were dragging the bar with it. The bar won't seem to move, but as you "drag" closer to the bottom of the screen, it will suddenly "pop" into place at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Once you have it in the place where you want it, you can lock it there so this doesn't happen again. To lock it, right click on the taskbar and the left click on the "Lock the Taskbar" option to place a check by it.

How do I convert a hand written document into a PDF file that I can email?

The steps to do this are on my Scan to PDF page.


My computer sound stopped working. How do I fix it?

Go to this no sound on computer page for a comprehensive answer to this issue.


My computer sound works, but it sounds like Mickey Mouse. How do I fix it?

Go to this computer sound page for a comprehensive answer to this issue.


Should I upgrade to Windows Vista?

  • This is one of those controversial computer questions. See the Windows Vista page I wrote in answer to this computer question.

Over my career, I've gotten just about all the computer questions you can imagine. I hope these tips have answered yours.

Done with Computer Questions, take me back to the Home page.

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My name is Ellen, and this site is the result of over 20 years experience in the IT support industry. No outside entity pays me to write this site.

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