Computer Maintenance Tips
Computer maintenance is essential for proper computer operation and for extending the life of your computer. Here are a few maintenance tips you can do to save yourself some money and frustration in the future.
Virus Scan - A regular virus scan is essential to the safety of your computer. I recommend scheduling your anti-virus software to run a virus scan once a day.
I have repaired several computers that either had their virus definitions out of date or their trial subscriptions for anti-virus software had expired.
Data Back-ups - I recommend at least daily saving essential files to a CD rom. Backing up data is a simple process with today's CD burning software or you can run the back up utility provided with Windows. You can access it by clicking Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup. Just follow the steps in the wizard.
The first time, I would recommend a normal backup and then follow up with an incremental or differential backup. This helps save time and only backs up files that have changed since the last back up. Remember to check the box in the backup wizard to verify data. No sense wasting your time doing a back up that won't work.
Shut Down - When you're done using your computer each day, I recommend shutting down the system. This saves electricity and wear and tear on your system's operating system and hardware. Just doing this can extend the life of your computer exponentially. I've learned this from personal experience.
Disk Cleanup - running system cleanup at least once a week deletes unnecessary temp files, temporary internet files and your recycle bin freeing up hard drive space that can slow down your computer. You can access System Clean up by clicking on Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup.
When running System Cleanup I recommend clicking on the more options tab and clicking on the clean up button next to System Restore. This can clear up a lot of space on your hard drive and doesn't cause any harm to your system restore file.
Disk Defragmenter - as you create and edit files on your computer they get saved on your hard drive. Each file is allocated so much space within one location on your hard drive and for large files they may take up more space, thus having to take up more than one space on the hard drive.
The computer tries to keep files contiguous to keep seek and access times down, but gradually files get broken in smaller chunks of information spread over the whole hard drive. This causes hard drives to grind and be slow, while the hard drive spends a long time putting all these fragments together in memory so you can view your file.
Running disk defragmenter at least once week will keep your file fragments down and allow your hard drive to work more efficiently. You can run disk defragmenter by Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter and then select the drive you want to defragment.
Check Disk - this program checks the hard drive for problems with the logical configuration of your hard drive and the surface areas of the hard drive. Check Disk can also fix errors as it runs, too. This is an important tool when maintaining any computer. To run Check Disk, click My Computer, right click on the hard drive you want to run Check Disk, select Properties, click on the tools tab and click the check now button next to Error Checking. Check the box Automatically fix file system errors and click Start.
Shortly after starting Check Disk an error will occur telling you that the program could not complete the check because Check Disk needs access to certain Windows files. You will be asked if you would like to finish running Check Disk the next time you start your computer, click yes. Check Disk will run the upon rebooting your computer.
You will notice that you can select to run Disk Defragmenter from here, too.
Update Virus Definitions - This is very important to ensure your computer is up to date on the latest virus threats in cyberspace.
Shut Down - I recommend doing a complete shut down of your computer, at least once a week when practical. I understand that some machines cannot be shut down, but it is very important for the operating system to have a complete reboot at least once a week to lower operating system degradation.
Your computer is a complex machine and the loss of one bit of information can botch up the whole works. This can go a long way in extending the life of your current installation of your operating system.
Windows Updates - This is a good chance to ensure your operating system is running up to date with the latest security patches. You can update your Windows Operating System by going to http://update.microsoft.com.
Clean Computer - Often overlooked, cleaning your computers vents of dust and pet fuzz is very important. With a brush and vacuum cleaner or a can of air, you can clean the vents for the power supply and side vents on the computer. Before cleaning ensure the power is off and follow the instructions on the can of air to safely accomplish this task.
Be careful not to breathe in suspended dust particles. I recommend wearing a dust mask to avoid setting off any allergies.
Clean your keyboard by gently picking it up with the power off, turning it upside down and shaking it out. You would be amazed at how much dirt, dust and crumbs fall out.
I recommend calling a professional computer technician to take care of cleaning and maintaining the inside of your computer. This is due to safety from electrical shock and static discharge from touching system components, which can damage or destroy computer circuits.
Annual Maintenance - call your local computer repair technician and schedule an appointment to have the inside of your computer cleaned, CPU fan checked and cables and circuit cards checked for sound connections.
Something called thermal creep can occur over time causing cables and circuit cards to work out of their sockets.
A CPU (central processing unit) fan or power supply fan that fails can cause your computer or laptop to overheat. This can lead to CPU failure and sudden computer shutdowns, along with other component failures.