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Computer Log: an article by GF Willmetts.

May 31, 2020 | By | Reply More

Although I’ve discussed adjusting Windows 10 on a new computer twice now, something I haven’t gone into is the importance of creating a computer log. A paper version that is, not what you tend to like to do to it when a previous computer dies or is in the process of dying. With my previous one, the USB ports were no longer responding to me plugging in a scanner so it was only a matter of time something would worse would happen and I had a sudden influx of capital.

It’s all very well you thinking you can remember everything you’ve ever done on your computer, but try telling me what you installed, say, 6 months ago and whether you uninstalled or had to note what adjustments you made to the settings or any easy way to check installation codes. Exactly.

I suspect the more computer-orientated geeks amongst you know this already, so this article isn’t really for you. What follows can be used for an existing computer or if you’ve just got a new one. It also saves the anguish of having to look up, say, your router codewords and such from the router because you’ve already got it written down. It also helps when you set up a new computer because you can see what you did the last time and how much you want to follow it again.

Basic Equipment

  • A hardback notebook  something a bit smaller than A4 and plain or fitting to your character.
  • A ruler – it’s width makes perfect margins if the notebook doesn’t have any.
  • Red pen  – for margins.
  • Black pen – writing. Pens were used before typing. Just be legible.
  • Yellow highlighter pen – it’s either that or some other way to highlight important items.

The opening section of the book should be devoted to your computer. If you ever have to talk/email a company engineer, it’s very useful to have the following. ALWAYS LEAVE A LINE OR TWO BETWEEN ENTRIES. It makes it easier to read and space for any corrections. Much of this info can be found in W10’s Device Manager. All are double page spreads unless otherwise indicated.

Computer Specifications

  • Motherboard
  • CPU
  • RAM
  • Videocard (if you have one separate)
  • Hard Drive(s)
  • Wireless Modem
  • Bluetooth (if you have one)
  • Windows 10 (not all of them are the same)

Next page:-

(the following is generally on the base of your computer)

  • PC Name
  • Service Tag
  • Device ID
  • Product ID

Sockets

This is something I added with my last computer. It’s useful to note where and how many USB ports, HTML ports and the socket arrangement for speakers (red, green, blue) if any than grope around. The green socket is generally for an external speaker cable.

If you plug in a USB hub, you can also detail what’s connected in that way.

Router

  • Model Number
  • Wireless Key
  • ssm4G:
  • ssm5G:
  • Password:
  • IP Address

Printer

  • Manufacturer
  • Model
  • Serial Number
  • Password
  • Inks

Generally, you would be doing this when you buy any new printer. Of all my information stored, this tends to be an important page because you don’t want to take your printer out to find it when the inks are put in. I tend to leave a few extra pages in case I get any new hardware or replace any I have.

Hard Drive Partitions

I tend to do this on scrap paper before putting here, mostly because no matter what numbers you decide to call them, W10 will take a few kB off for its own management of each partition so you’re never going to get a precise number before its done.

How you letter the drives is entirely up to you but remember before you start you need to defragment the hard drive and everything works out from the C:/ drive where Windows 10 is. Bear in mind how often you’ve seen W10 do massive updates, you really should make this your biggest partition. I’ve gone from 250gB to 650gB on a 2tB hard drive this time so there’s plenty of space for the massive file back-up that W10 creates with updates. Although W10’s back-up files filling the partition doesn’t appear to interfere with its running, it does save you wondering if you should delete it. Make the C:\ partition roomy. I would think a minimum of 350gB these days or how much space you have to spare.

Obviously, you will note the name given to each partition like for general programs, art software and games, etc. If you have a DVD drive then that will always be D:/ I do think manufacturers trying to make the base of laptops thinner all the time have made a mistake removing the DVD drive so if you haven’t got one, always see if you can get an auxiliary one for file downloads, etc in case you’d rather not have all your files trapped in the iCloud.

This is always tricky and I’ll include some notes here. You need to go through the Control Panel, Administration Tools, Disk Management and Disk Management. W10 reserves 4 partitions for Health, 2 Recovery Partitions and one Unallocated. Noting what you are going to be next will be a useful trigger for your next computer.

The first partition divides the C:\ partition from the A:\ partition from which you create further partitions. If you get it wrong, you can always undo and try again. The trick at this point is to put the size you want in the bottom box and then shrink and quick format in NTFS format. As I said above, I’m doing this with a 2tB size hard drive, but you can work numbers out based off this example. For most of these partitions, I went for about 200gB. I confess I was a little imprecise on the first two partitions but it does make for an easy number to subtract. Although W10 has been pretty reliable, if anything ever does go wrong, having your files in other partitions is your first defence before making a back-up to an auxiliary hard drive. The difference in numbers is because W10 allocates a few numbers for its own use.

C:\                   1788034

-650000

A:\                   1137034

   -20000

22134

B:\                   889040

-20000

689040

There is no D:\ drive as its allocated for the DVD drive.

E:\                    672890

-489000

195350

F:\                    485878

-285878

203122

G:\                   282756

-20000

19836

You see what I mean? You don’t have to copy me. I did leave a small partition at the end for my wallpaper/screen saver directory this time.

Programs In Each Partition

This is something new to my latest Computer Log. Although you will be covering this later, knowing what you have added in each partition at a glance is handy. Obviously date it. Crossing out will show if you’ve taken any out, more so if you update a piece of software and leaving it unused languishing there taking up space.

With all programs, you have a custom option of where to install. I tend not to like all software put on the C:/ drive but in the partitions where the files are. This does make it easier to find where they are in case you have to look at where, say, you have put your Word’s custom dictionary, especially as you move it from computer to computer.

Obviously, some programs will go to the C:/ partition so ensure you give it double pages. If these pages should fill up, you can add more pages later. As this is also my first time doing this, I’ll no doubt decide on how many extra pages from use.

Once all of this is done, you should have completed a general map of your computer.

I tend to leave about a dozen spare pages there in case anything else turns up or needed later.

For each double page, rule the following:-

Date                Action                                                             Comment

You note everything you do to your computer. Whether it’s a setting, program installation, etc. The comment section is useful because it covers anything you note, like websites and passwords etc. You don’t think I cover every last detail of this in my head, do you? As you build up your information, this tends to become your bible. I tend to note anything important like file size of zipped download. If you’re given a preference to save before installing, always do so and it will be stored in the W10 download directory so note the filename. As I found with my previous computer, there’s no guarantee the actual zip file will be saved if you just run it. If the manufacturer allows you to do a back-up to a back-up computer then you will know what to copy for a second installation. If you normally twiddle your thumbs, eat, look into thin air, watch TV or something while this is going on, at least you are doing something constructive and important towards your computer’s use. Leave a few lines or even an end of page between each entry.

What Next

I’ll mention a few.

Before you go on-line, in Control Panel, set your Power & Sleep settings, more so if the time given is too short.

If you want to have your W10 opening screen changing, in Settings, you need to change Lock Screen to Windows Spotlight although, oddly, I found mine didn’t really turn on for a couple weeks. That I’m still puzzling over.

If you aren’t going to use the anti-virus supplied, now is the time to go on-line and switch it over before looking around on the Internet.

If you’ve been following my other articles on W10, some useful links:-

Classic Shell W7 menu                     www.classicshell.net

W7 games                                           https://winaero.com/blog/get-windows-7-games-for-windows-10/    don’t forget to deselect Google Chrome unless you want it as a default.

Set your screensaver and wallpaper to your own preferences. I still like: https://johnsad.ventures/software/backgroundswitcher/

I don’t tend to like W10 picking my viewer for BMP or JPG files, so if you find it a nuisance, you might find this useful:-

https://www.howtogeek.com/225844/how-to-make-windows-photo-viewer-your-default-image-viewer-on-windows-10/

Select ‘Activate-Windows-Photo-Viewer-on-Windows-10

Save its zip file to your computer.

Open it will show a directory.

Open it and there is an activate and deactivate control.

Essentially, it changes a number in the W10 registry giving access to the Windows Photo Gallery app.

Now, here is where it got tricky for me because what they showed next doesn’t show on my computer. The quick way to do the change is choose a BMP or JPG or whathaveyou, go into ‘Properties’ opening General window and select the Change button associated with ‘Opens With’. You will now find Windows Photo Viewer amongst the options. Choose that one and not only will it become default but the ‘Preview’ button is added to the menu option when selecting a picture.

From here on, you install your programs and by logging everything, including the file installation codewords, you have your notes of what you’ve done and the settings you prefer. Highlight the program names so you can find them quickly flicking through the pages. If anything goes wrong, you have the necessary information to see what you did. I find it as asset for each new computer.

I don’t tend to log when W10 and anti-virus does updates unless it does something radical to the computer and problems with load-ups. If you still intend to use your old computer as a back-up, don’t forget to turn it on weekly to get these. I left the old one turned off for a fortnight just after updating my subscription and it had a literal meltdown and need a company technician on-line spending 90 minutes sorted out the settings. Don’t make my mistake.

Thoughts On Buying A New Computer

An odd thing for those of you more knowledgeable and reading here to see if I’ve hidden any surprises. If you are thinking of buying any computer with the intent of customisation and future-proofing because it should last longer. My current model should have at least a 10 year life so getting value out of the extra cost. The Intel i9 CPU series works more efficiently with a minimum 64gB RAM but actually needs 128gB RAM to run properly as I discovered when talking to the computer company rep. When you consider most computers are only sold with 8gB, that should make you think. Under normal circumstances, unless you’re playing with opening a lot of software at the same time, 8gB is probably enough as Windows 10 just rotates things on and off the hard drive as you need it. The only difference being if you’re playing a RAM hungry computer game on-line or having to deal with massive downloads.

When I transferred partitions of 99gB to my back-up computer to an auxiliary hard drive, it took 2¼ hours. From the auxiliary hard drive to the new laptop, 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe it myself until I did the other partitions. Granted a faster CPU would help but the real secret is always enough RAM so there is less to and froing.

I should point that although massive W10 downloads take less time, you still don’t gain more than a third on its installation times. I’m less sure about W10 downloads in the background yet but that’s only because I haven’t had many yet. Fortnite still takes the same amount of time as it downloads and installs at the same time although the extra RAM doesn’t hinder anything else you are doing at the same time.

Hope you find some use from all of the above.

Geoff Willmetts

May 2020

Category: Computers

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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