Computer Guide

Deleting user files
by George Skarbek - 25th July 2006

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Q: I have an old computer with Windows 98. I would like to give it to a family with children who cannot afford a new computer.  My problem is the files that are on it. Is there a way to erase all the files quickly without erasing the programs?
A: The best way to do this is by using Windows Explorer and start by deleting folders that contain only your files. Next open folders that may contain some files that need to be left and delete the others. By clicking on the first file and then holding down the shift key while clicking on the lower file will highlight all files in between. By holding the Control key you can un-highlight individual files. If none are selected then by holding the Control key you can highlight non adjoining files. Press the Delete to remove the highlighted files.

If you are using dialup for Internet then remove that icon and reference to dialup from Control Panel, Networks.

To delete your mail you can use the above procedure in the mail. You should also open the mail setting from Tools, Mail Options (or similar depending on your mail reader) and remove your account details. If you are using Outlook Express you must first perform compacting of the mailboxes to actually remove the mail. This is done from File, Folder, Compact all folders. and then Delete.

You should clear out the history from IE. From the Tools menu, click Internet Options, Content tab and click Clear Forms.  This will clear the forms that AutoComplete uses. To clear the entire history click on Tools, Internet Options, and in the History section click Clear History. Also clear all temporary Internet files.

Finally empty the Recycle bin and defragment the hard to ensure that it will be now very difficult for anyone trying to recover your documents. If more security is required then you can copy multiple CDs or DVDs onto the hard disk as this is likely to write over the old deleted files then delete them and defrag again. There are also many security programs that ensure that deleted files cannot be recovered by un-deleting as they destroy the contents of the files first before deleting the files.

If you do not have many other programs installed and if you have the Install disc then reformatting and reloading Windows may be quicker.


Q: I have a Dell Laptop and I am a heavy Internet user. I use Google quite often, but the problem is whatever I type in the Google search bar it is saved. Now I have big list of items in that. What's the best way so I can disable that? Do I have a clear Google bar each time I type in something in that?

A: This is not a function of Google but of Internet Explorer. To delete individual entries just highlight that entry and press the Delete key to remove the unwanted entry.

To clear all information from the various forms that you have used open IE and then from Tools, Internet Options click on the Content tab then on AutoComplete and then finally click Clear Forms.

To completely clear your AutoComplete history for Web addresses, from the Tools menu, click Internet Options, General tab and click Clear History, and then click OK and the history is gone.

Q: Recently, I have very often heard the word “BLOG”. My understanding is a sort of Web Log. Actually, what is a BLOG? Some look like a personal diary and they are communicating interactively. Could you advise how I can get into blogging? Do I need a specific blogging tools? And what is the main purpose for blogging?

A: Your understanding is quite correct. It can be described as an interactive personal web log or newsletter but intended for interactive use. Blogging is the action of updating the web log pages.

You will need special software and some server somewhere on the web to host you blog and there is a large range of software available, much of it is free. See: for one starting point and where you can pick from one of the many attractive templates to get you started.  See:  or  for examples of blogging.

Finally, as to what is the main purpose of the blogging? In my opinion it is simply another means of communicating by using the web.


Q: I look after the computers for a group that is teaching computers to oldies. We have four computers networked. Two of them have scanners attached; two have printers attached. We can share the printers over the network but I can't work out a way of sharing the scanners. Any ideas?

A: There is nothing in Windows that will allow you to share scanners. However there are some third party products that will do this. One such product is called RemoteScan and they have a home / non-commercial product. See: for more details.


To look at the e-book in PDF format, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here