University of Delaware
Desktop Maintenance Checklist

Most CITAs know about these common things. However, do not assume that all your users do. Remember, computer use is not necessarily their specialty. Therefore, we hope this list of relatively simple tasks that users can perform to improve their system performance is a helpful reminder to you of what you can teach your users to make it easier for you to support their computer use.

Cleaning up to improve performance

Defrag the disk
"You can use Disk Defragmenter to rearrange files and unused space on your hard disk so that programs run faster." -- MS Help Files.

Defragmenting a disk -- moving files and free space so that more files are in contiguous blocks and so that more free blocks are also contiguous -- allows programs to find files or free space more quickly.

Do not forget to turn off virus protection software before running Disk Defragmenter.

You can choose to make this a scheduled task.

Temporary files
You can teach your users to use the MS Disk Cleanup utility or to find \TEMP folders and empty them manually. Disk Cleanup can also be set up as a regularly scheduled task.

"Through normal use of your computer, your hard disk drive can become cluttered and a bit messy. And folders can become cross-linked, file names can contain invalid or unknown characters or become damaged, and file names can become disassociated with their files. ScanDisk can fix these and other problems for you. It's also a good idea to run ScanDisk on a regular basis: once a week for Standard, and once a month for Thorough." --

Disable anti-virus software before running it. Again, it can be scheduled.

A lot of users are unaware of all the things they have running at startup. You can use the Startup tab from within MSCONFIG to turn off things that are not needed.

Add/Remove Programs
If your users download software, you have to help them keep their systems clear of Adware, Spyware and other unwanted "goodies." One relatively safe way of doing that is to have them consult the list of software in the Add/Remove Programs window from the Control Panel. To be safe, have them ask you before they actually remove anything.

Teach your users about web sites like Spychecker. Teach them to check before they download any software.

Do not use peer-to-peer file-sharing programs

  1. See Spyware Above!
  2. Bandwidth? We don't need no stinkin' bandwidth!
  3. Ever heard of the copyright law?

IM and ICQ can import worms!

Software updates

Close all programs when installing others
This crops up with users trying to install Netscape without closing the current copy of Netscape -- and without closing IM. Also shows up with people installing software that conflicts with anti-virus software.

Virus Protection Updates
As downloaded from UD's Sofware area, McAfee is set to look for updates automatically.

Do not use Netscape 6 with Smart Update

Let's just put it this way: If a release of Netscape's software can get me to swear by IE....

Seriously, Netscape 6 has a lot of problems. Have your users use Netscape 4.7x or IE.

Windows Updates

Miscellaneous Tips

Show your users how to determine
  1. OS Version
  2. Version of Office (or other apps)
  3. RAM

Auto-arranged icons
Show your users how to toggle automatic arrangement of their desktop icons on and off. Counsel them not to have a zillion icons on their desktops.

Quick printscreen
Teach your users how to use PRINTSCREEN or ALT-PRINTSCREEN to grab a picture of their screen (or the active window) and how to open Word or an e-mail client and paste that image into the open application.

Windows XP at UD
Updated: 2/26/02
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