Cleaning the cob webs out of your computer isn't an easy chore. One false mouse click, and you can wipe out months of work. Nevertheless, you shouldn't neglect the accumulation of junk and wasted bytes on your hard drive.
There are several software programs on the market that claim to clean up dead files and erase errant code. None that I've worked with is a total winner. Of the better programs, Norton Utilities is thorough, but it's really for computer geeks. First Aid 95 is another excellent program. But unless you enjoy tinkering, its not for. Besides, if you've got a Windows 95 machine you can do the basic digital clean up on your own.
It's easy: Under the Start menu, go to Programs, then Accessories, then Systems Tools. Here you'll find an application called Scan Disk. It looks for partial files and binary detritus on your hard drive. Run the program and let it throw out the junk. When Scan Disk is finished (it may take an hour or more, depending on the drive), go to Disk Defragmenter in the same menu. A defragger, as they're commonly known, makes your disk drive run more smoothly and efficiently.
If the CD-ROM player in your computer won't run some discs, it might be time to give it a cleaning. Usually, it's the lens in the CD-ROM drive than needs a scrub. You can't use just anything to clean it — the plastic lens is vulnerable to scratching. So pick up a cleaning disc designed specifically for this task. MicroClean, for example, makes a CD Lens Cleaner for $15.95. Its got a little brush that cleans your drive's lens when you play a CD.
Coordinates: Norton Utilities for Windows 95, $95. Symantec, 800-441-7234 (http://www.symantec.com); First Aid 97 for Windows 95, $39.95. CyberMedia, 800-529-2373 (http://www.cybermedia.com).
A version of this article appeared in the Feb/Mar 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.