Monday, November 22, 2010

Computer Tech Day


NOTE: The following information sounds complicated and technical but actually it’s very simple and anyone could do this. Just don’t get in a hurry and use the downloaded programs that are shown below that I used or similar ones that are available online.


Today I decided to work on the computer. I’ve been putting this off ever since upgrading from a PC to the Laptop.  At that time, I just transferred everything over to the laptop and let it land wherever it landed. Shortly after buying the laptop, I purchased an external hard drive for additional storage since I do a lot of Video Editing, DVD Copying, Photo Editing, and a lot of Graphics. The laptop came with a 500 gigabyte hard drive installed. The Western Digital External Drive (USB) I bought is 1 terabyte (1000 gigabytes) in size.



My computer work space.laptop1










My main objective is to re-organize all my files and clean up old backup files. We currently have a total of 54 GB of Music and 7 GBI of Photos & Video files on hand and several GB’s of Programs.  Also wanted to “partition” the external drive which will speed up the computer as far as retrieving data. So this would be a good time to upgrade my Ram Memory. The laptop came with 4 gigabytes of Ram and has a total capacity of 8 gigabytes. By upgrading the Ram, this will increase the operating speed of the computer as well.


This is a memory chip from laptop. The penny is for size reference. laptop2






The access area where the Ram Memory chips are located contains two slots. So it came with 2 chips of 2GB memory. The largest chip available currently is 4GB so I purchased one to install along side of one of the 2GB chips giving me a total of 6GB memory for the time being. I will upgrade another 4GB chip later as my budget allows.




My memory access panel is on the bottom side of the laptop. You can check with your documentation for your model for its exact location and procedures.






My memory chips are labeled Slot A & Slot B. You access Slot A by pulling the chip retainer clips out to the side and Slot B chip springs upward giving you access to Slot A.




Now with the memory upgrade completed it is time to work on partitioning the external hard drive.  Since the external hard drive had already been in use, I had to transfer all the files and contents over onto the internal hard drive so that the external drive could be formatted (format is a complete swipe of the disk).  I was fortunate to have enough available free space on my internal “C” Drive to hold all my data. I created a dedicated folder on the C Drive and simply “Copy and Pasted” all data from the external drive into that folder. If you have a DVD Read/Write Drive (most modern computers come with one installed) you can copy the data to DVD Disks and then you’ll have a hard copy backup after all the data transferring is complete.

I downloaded a “Free” version of “MiniTool Partition Wizard” online. This is a very good program for Formatting and Partitioning hard drives.  It has a good “Help” file that explains step by step instructions.





This is what the program looks like once its been installed.






My main hard drive is labeled as “C” Drive.  My external drive before partitioning was labeled as “G” Drive.  I wanted to split the G drive into 4 equally sized partitions to be able to separate Music files, Photo/Video files, Backup files, and General Stored files into their own dedicated partition.  With this program you can select the drive letter you wish for each new partition. So I chose “G” for General Files, “M” for Music files, “P” for Photo files, and “Z” for Backup files.




This is Windows Explorer window with “Computer” highlighted. Each partition now appears to be an individual hard drive, “C”, “M”, “P”, “Z”.






Now each drive or partition can be individually defragmented about once a month to speed up data retrieval and making the whole system run faster. To do my “Defragmenting” I chose to download “mst Defrag”.  Windows 7 operating system has its own build in defragmenting ability but this small program gives you many more options and control over the defragmenting process. Plus it has a very nice graphical interface that gives you a real nice visual of what is taking place.





mst Defrag window






With all the transferring of data back and forth between hard drives and partitions, this leaves voids in the clusters of data files making your operating system having to work harder and search longer for a particular file when you request it.  By defragging each drive after all the transferring, it removes the voids and moves the data closer to the center of the disk (center spins faster than the outer edges of a disk) therefore retrieving the data is faster.  Everyone is always adding and deleting files on a daily basis whether your aware of it or not.  It is recommended to defrag each drive about once a month.  With “mst Defrag” you can set up a schedule for each drive/partition to defrag automatically in the background while you’re working without you even knowing it.  I stagger the times/days for each drive/partition to give the system a little rest. And of course the computer must be running in order to defrag so keep that in mind if you shut your computer down at night.


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