The care and feeding of your PC (aka PC Maintenance)
As with all your tools, spend some time taking care of your PC, and it will reward you with an extended life and reliable service. Use these tips and resources to help keep your machine happy, healthy, and trouble-free.
Things to Do
Like your car, your PC benefits from regular upkeep. But you don't always need a mechanic to maintain your computer. There are lots of things you can do yourself. Establish a routine of simple checks and updates to keep it running smoothly.
Update your virus definitions: Viruses spread within hours, so keeping your antivirus software up-to-date is essential. Remember to do daily updates!
Reboot when programs crash: Failed applications can cause other programs to fail. Restart your system after every crash to clear system and program memory.
Do an incremental system backup: If you are using Windows XP, making a copy of files that have changed since your last full backup is quick and easy. Simply click your Start Menu | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore. Let the wizard guide you through “creating a restore point”. This same wizard will allow you to restore your computer should the need arise. If you are using an earlier version of Windows, back up your system files to CD or disk.
Perform a full virus scan: Find anything nasty hiding on your system by regularly scheduling a full scan.
Do a complete backup: Better safe than sorry. A backup of all of your essential data will help you recover if your drive fails.
Windows Update: This is an Internet tool which enables Microsoft to scan your PC and recommend updated drivers, system files, security applets, and other updates. On Internet Explorer (versions 5.0 and above), use the “Tools” dropdown menu to select “Windows Update”. Click “Scan for Updates” on the page which appears. To choose the files you want to download, mark the appropriate check boxes; then ignore the rest.
Run a spyware-and-adware removal program: Tools like Ad-Aware, Spysweeper and Spybot can find and remove sneaky spyware and adware. Most of these programs have free or “lite” versions.
Disk Defragmenter and Scan Disk: Located on Windows' System Tools submenu, Defrag can maintain optimum hard-disk performance and stability by putting each file's sectors in the proper sequence, permitting more efficient access. One caveat: Be sure to keep at least 15 percent of your disk space free so that Disk Defragmenter (and your system) can perform at maximum efficiency. ScanDisk will look for and fix errors on your hard drive.
Update your programs: To make your application software more stable, check for vendors' software updates.
Check for new drivers: Installing the latest drivers for your devices can help speed up and stabilize your PC.
Clean out your PC case: Use a vacuum cleaner to carefully clear out the dust and pet hair that collects in a case, clogs up the fans, and causes your PC to overheat. Overheating can cause lasting damage to PC components. Look at your mainboard for any evidence of corrosion.
Clean house: Go to the Add/Remove programs menu in the Control Panel, and remove any programs you have not used in the past year. Be sure to use the manufacturer’s or Windows uninstall feature. NEVER just “DELETE” programs or directories. Programs often share some components (DLL files), and removing files alone can cause other programs to fail. Call us if you need assistance to remove programs safely.