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Utilities you already have
In Windows ME

The theme for this issue is utilities, and it will include several fine articles on various programs that keep your computer healthy and takes care of support activities. But you may not need to buy programs to perform these functions; Windows Me already includes several fine utilities, some unsurpassed by third-party programs. Before you buy new utilities, make sure you know what comes with Windows, and where to find it.

System Tools Folder
Many of the Microsoft utilities are located in the System Tools folder. To reach it, click the Start button, then Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools. The System Tools window contains several utility programs. Letís look at the most useful.

This program checks your hard drive and the files and folders it contains to see if there is either physical to the disk or logical damage to the files and folders. This is the program that runs when you shut down your computer improperly. Run Scan Disk at least monthly; weekly if you use your computer lots.

Disk Defragmenter
Rearranges the pieces of your files so that all the pieces of any file are contiguous, and read much faster from your hard drive. If you havenít run Disk Defragmenter recently (or at all), you will probably detect a definite speed-up in retrieving files from your hard drive after you do. Run it at least monthly.

Disk Cleanup
Windows, and especially the Internet, leaves a lot of residue files behind when you use your computer. Disk Cleanup gets rid of a lot of temporary files and files in your Internet cache. I use it daily, where it deletes 7 megabytes of junk at least; often more.

Maintenance Wizard
Schedules ScanDisk, Disk Defragmenter, and Disk Cleanup to run at regular intervals.

Scheduled Tasks
Schedules other utilities (like an antivirus program) to run at regular intervals.

System Information
A treasure trove of useful information about your computer, System Information tells you exactly what components are in your computer, and helps find conflicts. It also has several other useful programs in its Tools menu.

System Restore
A new feature in Windows Me, System Restore takes snapshots of your hard drive and lets you revert to a previous configuration if you need to. For example, I installed new video drivers for my video card, and something went haywire; I was not able to see anything at all on the screen. I used the System Restore feature to travel back in time to when my computer and all worked fine. Note that System Restore only backs up Windows files; other program files are ignored.

Creating Zip files
Windows Me finally recognizes the compressed file format used widely on the Internetóthe Zip file. A Zip file contains one or more files compressed together to form a single, compact file thatís easy to send over the Internet. You no longer need a separate utility to work with Zip files; Windows Me lets you create a Zip file from Windows Explorer. Just click on File, New, then select Compressed folder from the menu. Thatís the term that Windows Me uses to denote a Zip file. To add files to the compressed folder, just drag and drop them into the folder using Windows Explorer.

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