Home Computer Maintenance

Home Computer Maintenance
Home Computer Maintenance
A computer needs regular maintenance just like an automobile. Here is a list of recommended maintenance
tasks and helpful tips to keep your PC running like new.
Microsoft’s Windows Update Web Site
No matter which version of Windows you use, ensure that your Windows Update is set to automatic. Or if you
are concerned about what updates will be installed by Microsoft, you can set the Microsoft Updates to manual
and do them yourself. If you have your update settings set to manual, remember to check Windows Update
regularly and ensure all critical updates are installed at least once a month. The Windows Update site analyzes
your computer to see what system you have and what you need. Be sure to download and install all critical
updates. The installation of Windows Critical Updates will also protect you from some common computer
security risks and some viruses.
Software Updates
Keep important software applications updated by visiting the vendor’s website and obtaining patches, bug
fixes and software enhancements. If you have any questions about which updates are right for your
application, please contact us.
When you install a new operating system on your computer, upgrade to the latest available version of your
anti-virus software. Older AV programs tend to cause major problems in newer operating systems.
Don’t update your computer’s BIOS or your hardware drivers unless you have specific problems with the
operation of the PC that you believe may be solved by applying these updates. Updating a BIOS or drivers just
because a newer one is available can sometimes cause other problems, so unless you have a specific problem
to fix, it is better to leave the system as it is.
Firewall
If you have a high speed Internet connection you need a firewall. A firewall keeps those who want to hack into
your computer from gaining access to your system. You really do not want someone else running your
computer.
Anti Virus/Security Software
Keep a good anti-virus software installed, keep the virus pattern files or “definitions” updated and scan your
computer for viruses regularly. New virus definitions are updated at least weekly, sometimes even daily. At
the very minimum, make sure that your Anti Virus/Anti Spyware-Malware Software is set to perform weekly
virus scans of the entire system.
(We recommend Norton Antivirus or for a no cost alternative we recommend free AVG)
It is important to carry out a virus scan on "everything" that you download from the Internet and intend to
install or intend to install from a CD/DVD or other storage device or open as an attachment from an email.
Even if you know where the file or groups of files have come from, check it first for viruses. A cautious user is
a safe user.
Windows Disk Cleanup
Run the Windows disk clean-up utility two or three times per year. This will keep the buildup of temporary
files and data to a minimum.
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Windows Disk Defragmenter
De-fragment your hard drive with the Windows Disk Defragmenter once every month or two manually or in
the case of Windows Vista or Windows 7 you can set the Disk Defragmenter to run at a scheduled day and
time. Prior to performing this action be sure to run the disk clean-up utility
Software to Avoid
Avoid software packages that claim to be “registry cleaners,” “duplicate file cleaners” or “installation
managers”. These applications can seriously damage your operating system and applications. Unless you are
an advanced user capable of undoing any improper actions these programs might take, it is best not to use
them. Avoid installing software that is "shareware" or "free" as much as possible. A lot of free software is
crammed full of spyware or malware that can invade your privacy and use your PC to deliver advertisements
to you. Read and understand the license agreements on any free software before you install it.
Avoid installing software that isn’t specifically designed for the version of Windows you are using on your
computer. Look for Microsoft logos on the software box that specifically say “made for” or “designed for” or
“compatible with” your Windows version.
Power Protection
Your computer should always be plugged into a power-surge protector. Any cables used to connect your
system to the Internet should also run through a surge protector. DSL users should ensure that the phone
cord runs through a standard RJ-11 phone jack that is part of the surge protector or if your Internet access
comes from a cable company, you should purchase surge protectors that include coax connectors on them.
If you live in an area where power surges and low-voltages are frequent, consider using an UPS
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) rather than just a surge protector. (We recommend the brand APC)
Computer Placement
Make sure your computer can “breathe”. The computer needs adequate air space, especially at the rear, to
allow proper cooling of the internal components.
Computer Cleaning
Open your computer at least once per year (after unplugging all cables) and use an inexpensive can of
compressed air to blow out the dust that has accumulated inside the PC. If your computer is standing on the
floor, perform this task more often than once per year. Compressed air can be picked up in office supply
stores and major discount retailers.
The Proper Way to Remove Programs and Files
Never attempt to free-up space on your computer’s hard drive by just deleting files from “Windows Explorer”
or “My Computer” unless you know exactly what you are deleting. Instead, use the disk cleanup utility
mentioned previously that was installed with your version of Microsoft Windows.
Never attempt to un-install a program by deleting its folder in “Windows Explorer” or “My Computer”. Go into
the Windows Control Panel, open Add/Remove Programs in Windows XP or Programs and Features in Windows
Vista and Windows 7, then locate the application you wish to remove from the computer and un-install or
remove it from there. These utilities are designed to remove programs the correct way and make changes to
your system in such a way that the preserves all proper functions.
Keep track of the software disks you receive with your computer and new peripherals. These disks contain
valuable software drivers and programs for Windows and will be needed if Windows ever must be reloaded.
Keep these disks and your Windows software disks in a safe, dry place.
If children regularly use your computer, create an account for them and consider limiting the “user rights” for
that account. This will prevent any unwanted software install or accidental file deletion that may occur when
they are learning to use the computer.
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