Using the Action Center on a Windows 8.1 PC



                                                                                                                  By Don Trauger – Kennett


            If you have ever ventured into the Control Panel of a Windows 8.1 PC and clicked the Action Center icon (click View by: Large Icons) you will see two items, Security and Maintenance. Security is handled partly by your anti-virus program and should show “ON”  and “ON” or “OK” for the other listed items. If you click Maintenance you can peruse “Check for Solutions to Problem Reports” and within this category you can view the “Privacy Statement”, “Settings”, “View Reliability History”. The first two items you can leave alone. The Reliability History will show you an interesting graph of your system’s past problems. Clicking the various problems will allow you to view them in detail. Any consistent failure pattern should be reviewed and corrected.


            Next is Automatic Maintenance. It’s NOT what you think it may be. Here’s what it does do: It will check the hard drive for errors and defragment/optimize the drive. It also checks Windows Updates and runs a System Diagnostic, but it doesn’t clean up or remove junk files such as temporary Internet files and other unneeded files. It’s up to the user to run CCleaner (my recommended free download program) and Microsoft’s Disk Cleanup to perform the job correctly. Clicking “Start maintenance” manually starts Automatic Maintenance which normally runs daily when the system is idle. If you click “Change maintenance settings” you can change the time the Automatic Maintenance will start providing the computer is turned on and is idle.


            Homegroup is only used when you have networked two or more computers for a file sharing requirement or for printer sharing.


            File History is used when you want to back up your personal files. You can plug in a USB flash drive or a USB external drive to back up you files automatically. Once you assign the drive the rest is automatic. It’s highly recommended. To use, click “Change settings” or click the File History icon in the Control Panel. Click “Restore personal files” to restore files to their original location by clicking the arrow in the green circle. Click “Run now” to manually start a back up.


            Drive Status is checked under the Automatic Maintenance routine and will indicate to you any problems found. Normally you should see “OK” and “All drives are working properly”.


            Device Software checks the device drivers for proper operation. If a newer driver is available you can click Windows Update in the Control Panel and click Optional Updates to download and install. If the drivers are up to date and working properly you should see “No Action Needed”.


            In conclusion, Automatic Maintenance is a misnomer leaving an important part of the maintenance up to you. However, running CCleaner and the Disk Cleanup programs in conjunction with Automatic Maintenance will keep your computer in good shape.


            To help you with questions about this or any subject, we meet on the second Tuesday of every month at 7 PM, upstairs in the Ardmore room of the Community Center.