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Computer Maintenace Tips: Seven Steps to Nirvana

February 14th, 2010

computer-maintenance-how-to.jpgPeople rely heavily upon their computers, but seldom give them proper maintenance until the day when something goes wrong. For some arcane reason known only to the “computer gods”, that something will happen when you need your computer the most, such as when you have an impending deadline. Therefore, with the beginning of a new year and decade upon us, resolve to give a little care to your computer. Performing the following steps once a month will potentially save you many headaches. Note: These steps apply to Windows-based machines, but the same general maintenance tips apply to Macintosh and Linux models too. Other operating systems sometimes have different ways of getting to them.

1. First, run a disk cleanup. This clears many unused or out-of-date files from your computer, thereby freeing up hard disk space. (The more free space you have on your drive, the faster and more efficiently the computer will run.) To get there in Windows, go to My Computer. Then, right-click your drive (probably labeled “C”), select “Properties,” and choose Disk Cleanup.

2. Once done, you should run a disk check (called “CHKDSK” in earlier Windows versions). This process is in the same “Properties” window you already used. Select the “Tools” tab and then “Check Now”. It is best to select the check box that will automatically fix disk errors. Also, this process may not run without a system reboot. Choose “yes” as your response; then restart the computer and let the process run.

3. While you are cleaning out unused or out-of-date files and increasing your computer’s efficiency, go to your browser and delete its history. In Internet Explorer, you get there by clicking “Tools” and then “Internet Options”; in FireFox it’s Tools >> Clear Recent History. The items you can delete include cookies, passwords, history, and form data. Of course, it is up to you which you keep and which you delete. Removing some of this will create some inconvenience when you go back to common sites where you had, for example, asked the site to remember your password. Nevertheless, it is good for both computer security and Internet speed to periodically clear these files and start from scratch.

4. The next step toward improving system security and efficiency is to delete old and little-used files. Go to the directories where you keep your files — perhaps one titled “My Documents” — and expunge files you do not need anymore. For those that you want to keep but do not use often, move them to a blank compact disc or flash drive. Organization is key here, so label it clearly with file types, categories, names, and any other important information you might need to remember later.

5. Moving on, run a system check with both your spyware-adware program (such as BluePenguin SpyZooka) and your virus program. Download the latest updates to get the best protection before running the system scans.

6. Now, you are down to the last two steps. First, defragment your hard drive. Because of the way computer drives store their information (for example, random access rather than sequentially), programs and files often end up in pieces scattered throughout the drive. Your whole system will run much more quickly if you bring these associated pieces together. Therefore, go back to “My Computer.” Select your hard drive as you did before; then, under “Tools” select “defragment.” Follow the prompts and go find something to occupy your time while the computer runs this process. If you have never defragmented your drive before, it will likely take awhile. If you need to, you can do other things at the computer while the defragmentation process is running.

7. Once completed, back your system up. All computer users should have backup software. Besides doing a complete backup whenever you make significant changes to the system, each month you should do an incremental backup. This will make copies of new files and of files that have changed since your last backup session.

Taking the above seven steps is time consuming, particularly if you have not done any computer maintenance before. However, the benefits are great. You will identify, cure, or forestall potential problems. Your computer will regain some of its lost vigor. And you may sleep better at night knowing you have been proactive in protecting your computer. If that isn’t nirvana, what is?

This article on computer maintenance was supplied to us by Mel MacKaron from Constant Content.

One Response to “Computer Maintenace Tips: Seven Steps to Nirvana”

  1. comment number 1 by: Richard Watson

    Over the past 5 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with the professionals at CSU in Palm Beach Gardens. They have provided our company with great IT services and have been efficient in every possible way. I am extremely happy with our outsourced IT solution and I’m confident that they will continue to provide us the IT management and support we require for future company growth.

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