7 basic computer maintenance tips
Everyone should take proper care of their computers. In the IT world, this usually means three things: backing up your data, keeping your computer clean, and not downloading anything or putting in any USB devices while an update is going on.
Now that we’ve covered the groundwork, let’s get down to business:
The first step of computer maintenance is to backup all important files every few weeks/months depending on how often you use the computer. This keeps them saved in case something happens before they’re able to be saved elsewhere.
2. Clean out junk files
Next would be cleaning out junk files that pile up over time and no longer need to be there, such as games/app store data, cache files, and temp or corrupted downloads. This can be done by using CCleaner, which is a free registry cleaner and junk file remover with an easy-to-use design that was made for newbie computer users to understand what they’re doing when cleaning up their hard drives.
3. Replace small parts at least every 3 years
Another tip would be checking the hardware every so often and replacing parts if necessary. For example, you might want to replace your old power supply unit (PSU) with a lower wattage one to avoid any damage during times of peak load on your PC’s system components. You could also upgrade your video card/monitor in order to boost your performance when it comes to gaming or watching HD videos.
4. Software updates
When it comes to software, your three main protagonists should be Windows Update, Anti-Virus software, and other applications that might need updates from time to time. Make sure you update all of these regularly, as this can help remove any future security vulnerabilities within your operating system or antivirus program.
5. Be aware
In order to prevent viruses from infecting your computer in the first place, always look at what you’re downloading and where it’s coming from. Fake websites along with fake ads will normally lead you straight to a virus if you download anything without checking what it is and where it’s coming from. Also, run scans on newly downloaded files after unzipping them. It takes five minutes but it’s better than having to reinstall your whole system.
In the event that you find a virus on your PC, remove it immediately. If you don’t, then it will just keep coming back and getting worse. Your best bet is to run scans daily so if anything happens, you’ll know within 24 hours and be able to stop it before it really becomes a major problem.
6. Check firewall
While we’re talking about viruses, always make sure that your firewall is enabled and up-to-date. You can usually get away with leaving one or the other but not both. There are some people who need their firewall turned off for specific reasons (usually because of what they do online) but in most cases, this should never be necessary.
7. Check updates
Since last year’s Windows update, Microsoft has been putting disclaimers in every update about how they can cause your computer to slow down a bit. Sometimes a LOT. Even if you have the latest Intel processor and a ton of RAM, you’ll still have problems if these updates aren’t turned off or at least put on hold until they’re fixed. The same goes for Microsoft Office updates so be prepared to do some troubleshooting after new ones come out.
Cost to maintain a computer
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s talk about what kind of maintenance plans are available (and their costs).
The first one is usually free: backing up your data. Whether it’s an external hard drive, flash drive, CDs/DVDs, or cloud storage like Dropbox, make sure that all of your files are backed up on an external source away from your computer. If your hard drive crashes, you’ll be able to wipe clean your computer and restore everything fresh in no time with this kind of backup.
If you want even more protection for individual files (like pictures, documents, or specific programs ), some applications will encrypt them individually so even if someone got their hands onto your physical hard drive they would still need to enter a password to open the file; the best part about these apps is that it’s all done directly on your computer.
Another option is upgrading hardware (adding RAM or an additional video card). While most computers aren’t meant for this kind of modification, it does give older models new life with higher capabilities.
The most important thing you can do to keep your computer healthy, however, is maintenance.
Run anti-virus software
This means checking for updates regularly, running anti-virus software – or better yet getting an anti-virus solution that runs in the background like AVG and updating it when there are new virus definitions available. Having good firewall software installed on your PC or router is also helpful in blocking any malicious packets from outside sources that are trying to connect to your device. Software firewalls are free and built into Windows 11/10/8.1/7 while hardware firewalls can be bought for under $50 at places like Officeworks.
If all of this doesn’t make sense to you right now don’t worry, these programs really do make very little difference to performance, and not having these programs doesn’t mean you should avoid computers like the plague because there is a much greater risk of getting viruses from other sources (like downloading them or sharing infected discs with friends).
Educate yourself and beware
One last thing you should keep in mind is that even though you may have all these anti-virus and firewall programs installed if you don’t use common sense such as not installing suspicious software or clicking on dubious links then no program can save you from getting compromised.