As most of you know, working on a slow, disorganized computer can be frustrating—and it happens to the best of us. This article will give you some easy-to-follow guidelines on how to keep your computer on the right track using tools in Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Microsoft Office 2010.
1. Organize your folders
We all know how easy it is to dump files into the wrong folder when we're in a hurry. But one way to make sure you keep your files organized is to remove the clutter with a filing system that makes sense for the way you use your computer. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Begin by deciding which files you no longer need on your hard disk drive.
Think it through.
Take the time to plan the best way to organize your files. How do you spend your time on the computer, and what do you create? Do you work with photos and image-editing software, surf the web, write short stories, research school projects, or play games? The folders you create in Documents (called “My Documents” in Windows XP) can be easily tailored to show you just the kind of data about your files that you need to track. For more tips about creating a well-organized filing system, see File organization tips: 9 tips to manage your files better.
After you have an idea of the kinds of items you produce and want to save, create folders and subfolders to store your files. Be sure to use logical, easy-to-understand names. For example, within Documents, you might create additional folders called Projects, HR Benefits, and Career. Then, within the Projects folder, you could create subfolders for each different project.
Clean your files periodically.
After you have set up your file system, inspect and clean it regularly. Routine maintenance tasks, such as deleting old or duplicate files and folders and making sure that important files are in the right folders, can save you a lot of time and frustration.
Email folders in particular tend to spiral out of control, so be sure to spend time ordering and maintaining them. Microsoft Outlook 2010 offers nifty features to help you stay on top of your Inbox.
To create a new subfolder with Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, right-click anywhere in the folder, click New, and then click Folder. Type the name for the new folder, and press ENTER. For more tips about creating a well-organized filing system, see File organization tips: 9 tips to manage your files better.
To create a new folder in Windows 7, in Windows Explorer, click New Folder at the top of any folder or library. Also in Windows 7, the new libraries make managing your files easier than ever. Learn more about working with libraries.
2. Clean up your hard disk
Now that you've organized your files and folders and cleaned up your desktop, you can organize the data itself. Windows includes two utilities—Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter—that help you free up more space on your hard drive and help your computer work more efficiently.
Disk Cleanup compresses your old files to free up storage space.
Disk Defragmenter scans your hard drive and consolidates files that may be scattered across the disk.
It's up to you to decide how often to run these utilities, but it's a good idea to do so at least once a month. Windows Vista users take note: Disk Defragmenter is automatically scheduled to run once a week (Sunday at 4 A.M.). You can change the scheduled time for this feature or, if you prefer, turn it off.
System Restore is one of those programs that can be a life-saver when you've been the unfortunate recipient of unstable software, a badly timed power outage, or a damaging thunderstorm. System Restore records important documents, settings, and preferences on your computer. If the unthinkable happens and your computer files are damaged or inaccessible, you can use System Restore to restore your computer to the same state it was in before the data was lost.
System Restore creates restore points daily and whenever you install device drivers, automatic updates, and some applications. But it's a good idea to get into the habit of creating a system checkpoint (called a restore point) when you're about to install new software or take any action you suspect might make your computer unstable. Then, if there's any conflict at all, you can restore your computer to the point just before you began the installation.
Create a restore point in Windows 7
In Control Panel, click System.
In the left pane, click System protection.
Click the System Protection tab, and then click Create.
In the System Protection dialog box, type a description, and then click Create
Create a restore point in Windows Vista
Open System: Click the Start button, click Control Panel, click System and Maintenance, and then click System.
In the left pane, click System Protection. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
Click the System Protection tab, and then click Create.
In the System Protection dialog box, type a description, and then click Create.
Create a restore point in Windows XP
Click Start, and choose Programs.
Point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click System Restore.
When the program opens, click Create a restore point, and then click Next.
Enter a description of the restore point, and then click Create. After a few seconds, the program tells you the date, time, and description of the new restore point.
Computer programs are continually improved based on customer feedback and regular product testing. As problems are resolved, you should benefit from those improvements. By checking Microsoft Update often, you can make sure you've got the most recent Windows and Microsoft Office improvements available to you.
Windows 7 and Windows Vista users don't need to sign up for Microsoft Update: An account is automatically created for you during the registration process, and Windows Update is automatically installed on your computer with default settings that you can change later, if you wish.
Windows XP users must visit Microsoft Update to start the update process. First-time visitors might need to sign up for the service. After you've visited Microsoft Update, you should configure your computer running Windows XP to receive critical updates automatically. This free service is called Windows Update in Windows 7 and in Windows Vista, and it is called Automatic Updates in Windows XP.
Learn how to receive critical updates automatically in Windows 7 and Windows Vista:
Important: If you do not select the recommended automatic updating option, you must download and install every critical update. If you download the updates but forget to install them, your computer will not be protected with the latest enhancements.
5. Run antivirus software and a spyware detection and removal tool
Updating your Windows software is just the first step in keeping your computer safe. Next (if you haven’t already done so), you'll want to install antivirus software from a reputable vendor, such as Microsoft, AVG, Norton, or McAfee. As is the case with Windows, it is critical that you keep your antivirus software up to date. Free antivirus software comes preinstalled on many computers, but after the trial period expires, you’ll be exposed to new and emergent threats. Be sure to renew your subscription or to secure alternative virus protection.
If your computer seems sluggish or if you begin to see lots of pop-up advertisements, even when you're not surfing the web, your computer may be infected with spyware, adware, or other unwanted software. Learn more about spyware and what it can do to your computer.
If you’re like a lot of us, you get so much email every day that you might spend as little as 15 seconds scanning a message to determine how it applies to you. Now, imagine that other people are reading your email the same way. If they can't quickly identify the purpose of your message, they’ll probably delete it or leave it in the Inbox for "later"— if later ever comes.
1. Make the purpose of the message clear
When recipients receive your email message, they should be able to see at a quick glance how the message relates to them and why it’s important. They may be looking at a preview of your message in Microsoft Outlook or on a Windows phone or Windows Mobile device, such as a personal digital assistant (PDA). Or they may see only Subject lines in their Inbox. If your Subject line is confusing and irrelevant, your email will surely get deleted in a hurry. Here are some examples of what can be included in Subject lines to make sure the reader opens your mail:
A standard subject heading such as "Action Requested," "Response Requested," "FYI," or "Read Only," depending on the action indicated in the body of the message.
The meaningful objective or supporting project that the message relates to, for example, "FY '05 budget forecasting."
The required action if applicable, for example, "Consolidate departmental budget spreadsheets."
The due date if applicable, for example, "Due by July 7."
An example of an effective Subject line is "Action Requested—Consolidate all department spreadsheets for FY '06 budget and return to me by June 15th."
2. Tell recipients what action you want them to take
Be completely clear about the actions you want the recipients to take. Be specific and put all the material that is related to an action in one place. To get even faster responses, talk about how the action relates to the recipient's objectives, and always give due dates. It's also important to clarify what type of action you want the recipient to take. There are basically four types of actions you could request. If you make this level of detail clear, the recipient will be most likely to read the email and take the action right away. The four actions include:
Action: The recipient needs to perform an action. For example, "Provide a proposal for a 5% reduction in Travel & Entertainment expense."
Respond: The recipient needs to respond to your message with specific information. For example, "Let me know if you can attend the staff meeting at 9:00 A.M. on Friday."
Read only: The recipient needs to read your message to make sure they understand something. No response is necessary. For example, "Please read the attached sales plan before our next staff meeting on August 12th."
FYI only: The recipient should file your message for future reference. No response is necessary. In fact, even reading the message is optional. For example, "Enclosed for your records are your completed expense reports."
3. Provide the proper data and documents
Make sure you give recipients all of the information they need to complete an action or respond successfully to your request. Your co-workers shouldn't have to come back to you asking for information, whether it is a supporting document or a link to a file on a shared website. You can include supporting information in the body of the message, in an attached file, or in an attached email. In Windows Live Hotmail, you can use the Quick Add feature, which lets you search for and insert content such as images, video, restaurant details, maps, and movie times into your email messages, without ever leaving Hotmail. In addition, if you want recipients to fill out a form, it's a good idea to attach a sample copy of the form that shows how it should be filled out.
4. Send the message only to relevant recipients
Target your message to the appropriate audience. Only people who have to complete an action on the Subject line should receive your message. Be thoughtful and respectful when you enter names on the To line. People observe your thoughtfulness and the results are more effective. Here are two simple questions to help you filter the To line recipients:
Does this email relate to the recipient's objectives?
Is the recipient responsible for the action in the Subject line?
5. Use the CC line wisely
It's tempting to put loads of people on the CC line to cover your bases, but doing so is one of the fastest ways to create an unproductive environment. Here are some things to consider when using the CC line:
No action or response should be expected of individuals on the CC line. The recipient needs to only read or file the message.
Only those individuals whose meaningful objectives are affected by the email should be included on the message. If you are not sure that the information is related to a co-worker's objectives, check with that person to see if they want to receive your email on that topic.
6. Ask "final questions" before you click Send
The final thing you want to do is check your work to be sure you are supporting meaningful actions. Sending clear, well-defined messages can reduce the volume of email you send and receive, encouraging correct action, saving time, and limiting email trails. Make sure you ask the following questions before you send the message:
Have I clarified purpose and actions?
Have I included supporting documents and written a clear Subject line?
Did I write the message clearly enough that it does not come back to me with questions?
Am I sending the message to the correct recipients?
Have I run the spelling checker and edited the message for grammar and jargon?
Bonus: Don't send junk email
One of the quickest ways to get onto your recipients' "delete radar" is to overwhelm them with meaningless email. Responding to email with "I got your email, thanks," or sending out lots of irrelevant data that you think they might want to know about is a quick way to create a track record of sending unproductive mail.
To summarize, it is incredibly easy to create an unproductive culture using email. Follow these guidelines and you can be sure you and your team are able to keep focused on meaningful objectives and don't create email overload.
It's time for Spring cleaning! Are you getting close to reaching the limit of your mailbox storage quota or simply want to get rid of some clutter in your inbox but don't know where to start? Well, this is the guide for you! While there is no single "easy-button" method in storing your emails, the strategies used for cleaning up your mailbox effectively are much more generic and can be used for pretty much any storage method you use.
In addition to having that "cleaned up" feeling, there are also technical benefits to having a tidy mailbox such as faster loading of Outlook, less clutter in your Search results and quicker backup ups since the mailbox to backup is now smaller.
Step 1.) Do you know how big your Mailbox is?
Before starting with cleaning up, you'll first need to know how large your mailbox really is. Well you might ask, how do I find out how big my mailbox is? To get an overview of the total size of your mailbox and each individual folder you can open the Folder Size dialog:
Open the Mailbox Cleanup dialog:
For Outlook 2007 and previous:
Tools-> Mailbox Cleanup…
For Outlook 2010:
File-> section Info-> button Cleanup Tools-> Mailbox Cleanup…
Click the button: View Mailbox Size…
In the window that is being displayed now, you’ll see an overview of your mailbox folders and their sizes.
When connecting to Exchange, you'll see a Local Data and Server Data tab. Only look at the Local Data tab; cleanup changes you make will automatically take place on the server as well.
Have you ever hit “Reply All” to an email when you didn’t mean to? Or sent important information to someone and never gotten a response, only to learn later their email address was invalid? Microsoft Exchange 2010 and MailTips, a new Microsoft Outlook 2010 feature, can help prevent embarrassing mistakes, save you time, and alleviate frustration.
You can share your calendar with others on a Microsoft Exchange Server—with permission, of course. Or you can publish your default Outlook 2010 to the web, which can allow more people to view it. If you publish your calendar to the web, you don’t have to have an Exchange account, and anyone can see it, even if they don’t have an Exchange account, either.
Do you do a lot of the same things over and over with emails? Like frequently move messages to a specific folder that you’ve set up? Or often forward messages to your team? Quick Steps in Outlook 2010 can help by turning commands and procedures that you use most often into one click actions.
At work you may often have conversations over email, where several people are weighing in on important issues. Have you ever missed someone’s response in one of these email conversations? Now you can see your email within the context of the conversation, with Conversation View. See the overall conversation, including your responses, find the most recent response, and easily figure out the message that is most important to you.
Maybe you are no longer needed in an ongoing email conversation—or maybe the subject matter is no longer important to you. Whatever the reason, you can prevent additional responses from appearing in your inbox. The Ignore command moves the whole conversation and any future messages that arrive in the conversation to the Deleted Items folder.
If you’re going to be heading out on vacation or even just away for the day, you can let your colleagues know your schedule and when they can expect to hear from you again. Customize automatic responses to emails you receive whenever you are unavailable.
It’s easy to communicate with pretty much anyone via email. But there are times when you don’t want email you send to be forwarded to others, or printed out, or copied. You can use Information Rights Management (IRM) to help prevent sensitive email from being read, printed, forwarded, or copied by unauthorized people.
With Unified Messaging (UM), you can receive email, voice, and fax messages in your Outlook Inbox. If you have an Exchange Server 2010 account, you can get Voice Mail Preview, which delivers both a recording and text that’s been created from the voice recording using automatic speech recognition.
Thanks to the Microsoft Outlook Global Address List (GAL), you no longer have to keep your contacts’ information stored on your computer--where it takes up space and gets out of date before you can manually update it. The Global Address List (GAL) tracks it all for you: phone numbers, building location, email addresses, and more.
10. Make sure they get it
Need to make sure your boss reads an email that you send her? Want to get your team to vote on their favorite restaurant for your team outing? You can add many different types of tracking to your email messages, including delivery and read receipts, voting buttons and follow-up actions.
Weather it's hackers, viruses or just plain malware, there are many "dragons" that can plague your employees and network. This makes your people and company run poorly at best and worse case will bring your entire network and your business to a screeching halt.
If you have any doubt about the health of your server or network, give us a call at (508) 453-4700 and let us help you slay those dragons right off your network.