The personal computer is increasingly becoming the hub of our lives, even as the smartphone continues to ascend to its place besides the desktop PC as an extension of our digital living. In some ways, your computer could be as important as your car. It helps you look for work, it keeps you connected to other people, and it enables you to access a whole range of services that are both important and useful. Shouldn’t you invest just as much time into taking care of your computer as you would making sure your car was properly serviced? Good and regular computer maintenance can mean the difference between having to replace your machine after only three years and being able to extend its life to five years and beyond. There are many simple computer maintenance steps everyone should take.
Defragment Your Hard Drive Regularly
While it might not seem like an important thing to do, one of the biggest causes for slowdown in computer systems is simply the fragmentation of files across the hard drive. This occurs during normal use and operation of the computer, but if left to build up, it can really make your computer drag even when trying to accomplish simple tasks. While defragging your hard drive can take a long time, especially if you’ve never done it before, it’s well worth the speed boost it’ll bring you. Schedule your computer to defragment itself overnight while you sleep so you don’t have to try and work around it, and be sure you can let the entire process finish at once. Make this a regular part of your computer-using habits.
Keep Your Antivirus Up to Date
There’s no reason to not be protected against computer viruses when free software is so prevalent, but just installing the software isn’t enough to stay safe. You’ll need to make sure the virus definitions file, which is how the software knows what software is good and bad, is kept up to date. Most programs will allow you to schedule updates, but since restarts might be required, you might not want to risk losing work to let an update run. Be vigilant about checking your antivirus software and asking it to check for updates; when it does alert you to a new available version, you should make sure it gets installed right away.
Back Up Your Data
How many people have lost months worth of work because their computer crashed and they had no backup? Save yourself from this headache by researching various backup solutions and discovering which one is right for you. This could be an external hard drive or a second internal drive set up with software that makes regular copies for safekeeping, or a third party service that keeps your information safe in a different location. Even when you’re being vigilant, a hard drive failure can sneak up on you, or a virus might elude your software and wreak havoc with your data. Keeping your information secure and protected is a vital part of regular computer maintenance.
Keep Your Case Clean and Dust-Free
When was the last time you opened up your computer case and cleaned out the inside of it? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably “never.” However, there is a lot of dust and grime that’s building up on the inside of your computer, and you should be making every effort to keep this from happening. Go down to your local store and buy a can of compressed air, then figure out how to get the sides of your computer case off. Use the canned air on things such as the video card and its fans, the CPU heatsink and its cooling fan or fins, all of the fans that blow air in or out of the case, and of course, you should always keep your power supply free of any dust as this is is a potential fire hazard.
Reinstall That Operating System for a Fresh Start
Although it can be frustrating, if you keep good backup copies that you can restore from, reinstalling your operating system can actually be quite simple. Isn’t it wonderful when you buy a new computer and it boots up in just a few seconds flat? You can get that speed back by reinstalling your operating system, which you should be doing about once a year anyway in order to keep the software running exactly as it’s supposed to. This will help cut down on clutter on your hard drive, and translate to a faster computing experience for you.