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Chapter 3

Automate Repetitive Tasks

If you examine your work processes over time, you'll notice that certain activities come up over and over again, whether it's filing email messages into the same folders, cleaning up your hard drive, or downloading new songs from your favorite bands' web sites. Program your computer to perform these tasks once, and you'll never have to do them by hand again.

Hack 18
Automatically Back Up Your Files

"Backing up your data could possibly be the dullest -- yet most indispensable -- thing you do on your computer. But who remembers to do it? You don't have to."

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Hack 19
Automatically Defragment Your Hard Drive

"The digital footprint of your life gets ever bigger on your computer hard drives, so it's more important than ever to keep those disks healthy to preserve your critical data."

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Hack 20
Automatically Empty Your Digital Junk Drawer

"During the course of a work day, you save all sorts of disposable files on your computer: video, images, and songs meant for a single viewing or listen, PDF files you have to print, software installers and zip files you extract and do whatever you need with the contents. The end result is a lot of digital detritus clogging your hard drive for no good reason. But you don't want to clean up after yourself every time you work with a set of files you don't need to keep."

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Hack 21
Automatically Download Music, Movies, and More

"Your web browser does a good job of fetching web documents and displaying them, but there are times when you need an extra-strength program to get those tougher download jobs done."

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Hack 22
Automatically Email Yourself File Backups

"When my sister-in-law asked me how she could back up her master's thesis without any special equipment or software, I had to think for a minute. 'Email it to yourself,' I finally told her."

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Hack 23
Automatically Reboot and Launch Applications

"A PC that's on continuously 24 hours a day--especially when it's hard at work at night, running automated tasks outlined in this chapter--can benefit from a regular reboot to clear out memory and end any hanging software processes."

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Hack 24
Automatically Log Your Progress in a Spreadsheet

"A spreadsheet is a great way to track progress on any type of undertaking that involves numbers--like how much weight you've lost, how many widgets you made, how many miles you ran, or how many cigarettes you smoked. But who remembers to update his spreadsheet by hand?"

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