Is your computer acting sluggish? It could be your hard drive's getting full. If you've recently installed new software, you may need more memory. If not, perhaps all you need to do is clean off your hard drive. Follow these steps for a clean machine:
1. Before you do anything, back up all files to diskettes or a tape drive.
2. Delete old files, like first drafts of proposals, documents you now have on paper or copies of old e-mail messages.
3. Delete temporary files. These are files your software programs set up when doing certain tasks. Once that task is completed, the temporary file is no longer needed. If you're using Windows 95, for instance, click on the Start menu, select "Find Files or Folders," and type in *.tmp. It's probably safe to delete any files ending in "tmp" that are located in the C:WINDOWS TEMP file.
4. Remove software programs you no longer use. To ensure you get rid of all the files related to the programs, be sure to uninstall programs instead of just deleting files. Windows 95 or Windows 98 users can use the uninstall feature. There are also programs like CleanSweep 4.0 (Quarterdeck Corp., $39.95, http://www.quarterdeck.com) or UnInstaller Deluxe (CyberMedia Inc., $49.95, http://www.cybermedia.com) for this purpose.
5. Defragment your hard drive. As your hard drive gets full, your computer stores files in bits and pieces scattered throughout the drive. Every time you open one of these files, the read/write head of your hard drive has to move around more than usual to find all the fragments. Windows' defragment feature rearranges the files and unused space on your hard drive to make it run faster and more efficiently.
Donna Chambers (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance business writer and small-business owner.
Cheaper Chips, Ahoy
If you're in the market for a computer, you may hear a new name bandied about. Intel recently introduced a new processor, the Celeron, designed for the "basic PC" market.
Basic PCs, which handle standard functions like word processing, invoice preparation and e-mail, suit the needs and budgets of most small-business owners. (Pentium processors will still be used in full-featured PCs--those used for desktop publishing or graphic design, for instance.)
In the past, Intel designed its new processors to work faster than previous models, and users looking for a new computer had to pay for speed they didn't need. However, Intel has realized most small-business owners simply want a lower-priced processor tailored to their needs.
Manufacturers using the Celeron in computers priced from $800 to $1,200 include Acer, Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Packard Bell, NEC and Sony.
Go Fly A Site
Benjamin Franklin used the printing press, considered the most modern and sophisticated means of communication of his time, to publish his Poor Richard's Almanack. You can get the word out about your own business with the 20th-century version of the printing press: the World Wide Web. Get help with author Peter Kent's latest book, Poor Richard's Web Site: Geek-Free, Commonsense Advice on Building a Low-Cost Web Site (Top Floor Publishing, $37.95, 800-247-6553 or 888-322-6657).
Kent guides you through planning, designing and launching your site from start to finish, including advice on finding a Web host and choosing and registering a domain name.
Although you need to be familiar with computers and the Internet to use this book, it's fairly easy to understand. You'll find helpful tips, real-life examples and a multitude of useful Web sites to visit, including Kent's own at www.poorrichard.com/pk1