- KEEPING YOUR DATABASE CLEAN

Most people assume that when you delete a record from your contact manager it's actually gone. However, it's not uncommon for contact managers, databases and even many email programs to only remove the visible references to these records without actually deleting the records themselves.

The reason for this is that to truly delete a record, including all of the various index files that are used for organizing the database, can take a great deal of time, and most users don't like waiting for software to perform database functions like this.

On the other hand, simply removing all references to the data from the user's view can be done quite quickly, and this is actually what happens when you delete entire files from your computer, as well.

Thus, deleting a contact or email message usually only removes the information from your view, but without removing the actual data from your system.

While this procedure isn't inherently bad for your computer, over time problems can arise.

For instance, if you've been using the same contact manager or email program for a year a longer, you may have noticed that the program seems to be quite sluggish, as compared to when you first installed it.

The longer you use the software, and the more records or messages you delete, the more the software's performance will suffer, and this may result in more frequent crashes and/or software errors, too.

Additionally, having a large number of records that have been deleted can create problems with importing and exporting data between different programs as your software has to contend will keeping track of all of your deleted (but not actually removed) information.

The solution to this problem is to simply use the database maintenance routines that are built-in to most every contact manager and email software program.

In most programs, the maintenance command will often be simply called "database maintenance" but other terms, such as "optimize" "compact" or "reindex" are often used as well.

For instance, ACT! users can go to the "File" menu and then choose "Administration" where they will find "Database Maintenance." With Top Producer, you would choose the "Setup" menu, and then "Database Utilities."

Email programs have similar menu commands that will clean up your email message databases.

Regardless of the software you're using, you can almost always find the appropriate commands by simply visiting the "help" menu and searching for the keyword "maintenance."

The "key point" here is that you should find out how to maintain your contact manager and email software and then perform this action on a regular basis - either weekly, or monthly.

Doing so on a regular basis will usually speed up your system, reduce both program errors and crashes and will save space on your hard drive as well.

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale