Performing Basic Computer System Maintenance

It’s always a good idea to perform some basic maintenance on your computer systems..

How often do you perform periodic maintenance on your PCs ? My guess is that most answers will fall between once a year and never.  Here’s a list of easy to-do’s

Make sure all service packs and security updates have been installed: Sure, most of us have this set to update automatically, but the update settings can, and do, get changed some times. If the automatic update has been turned off, turn it back on and keep it on.

Application and program updates: In most cases, it’s a good idea to make sure all applications have the necessary updates installed. Doing so helps protect you from security holes found and fixed after the software was initially released and installed. This also applies to the free stuff like Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player and such.

Update all virus protection files: Again, these are probably set to update automatically, but the same thoughts apply as with the Windows updates. Check it to be absolutely sure.

Run a virus scan: And make sure it’s set to automatically scan periodically (preferably daily). Note: we’ve come across “many” computer owners who schedule their updates and daily virus scans to take place at 3:00am – and then when they’re done using the computer for the day, they shut it down. Makes it kinda difficult to download updates if the computer is powered off…

Scan for malware: I prefer Malwarebytes, as do most support techs in the industry. You can download a free version.

Delete all temporary files: Including all software installation temp files, temporary Internet files, and so on. It’s also a good idea to delete any other files that may be obsolete or are no longer needed.

Empty the recycle bin: It’s amazing to see how large that can get.

Check applications and processes: Over time, the applications and processes that run (either in the background or foreground) tend to grow. Check to make sure they’re necessary and legitimate.

Firewalls: Verify that proper firewalls are in place and turned on.

Verify adequate space is available on the hard drive: Personally speaking, I don’t like my hard drive to get more than half full. Microsoft operating systems start to slow down when the free space is less that 10% of the hard drive space. If your hard drive is approaching 75-80 percent full, it’s a good time to do some serious cleanup. If files and programs simply can’t be removed, start making plans to install a larger one.

Review the amount of installed memory: The current memory installed might have been adequate at one time, but with application updates and such, it might be prudent to increase the amount of memory. If you still use a 32bit operating system, you’ll still be limited to a maximum of 4GB of RAM which is usually not a problem.

Defrag and optimize the hard drive: I don’t really like any of the Windows defrag tools, but there are some good free ones available out there. Windows defrag is better than no defrag at all.

Verify backup procedures: This won’t really help with system performance but it’s extremely important in the event of a hard drive failure. If you keep data or e-mail files on your local drive, make sure your backup procedures are in place and working.

Create a System Restore point: In the past it was recommended that you do this once per year, With today’s ever growing malware and spyware problems I recommend creating restore points on a much more regular basis – especially right before installing a new program or a program update. This has saved my bacon more times than I care to count and might do the same for you as well.

Check the fans: Make sure the fans are spinning freely and quietly: the processor fan, case fans, graphics card fan, etc. If they’re noisy or don’t spin freely, blow them out with canned air and if that fails to fix the issue, have them replaced.

Check the UPS battery: The average life of a UPS battery is probably around five years when used within the proper rating. If it’s close to that time, you might want to replace it. Like the fans, it’s better to replace the battery before it fails than to find out it has no life when it was needed the most. The computer doesn’t even have a UPS you say? Why not?

Clean it out: Computers are dust magnets. Use a computer vacuum or a can of air (take the tower outside) to get rid of it. Focus on the fans and filters. Remove the front panel (if possible) to remove the dust from any cavities or between parts.

Clean the rest: Cleaning the keyboard, mouse, speakers, and monitor is always a nice finishing touch. Replacing a grungy keyboard might also be a good idea — just because many are so hard to clean.

Just like your car, performing an annual checkup and tune-up is always a good way to give your computers not only a longer life but better performance.

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