Desktop PCs – they are designed to be setup in a location that doesn’t normally move around (House, Office, School, etc). They are built to be solid and more durable then laptops but are often forgot when it comes to routine maintenance.
Backup – Before you perform any maintenance on your computer, it’s important to back up all of your data; you never know when a small glitch could lead to a loss, and if everything is properly backed up you can reconstruct all of your files and programs in the event of failure. Even if you aren’t performing maintenance, routine or otherwise, regular data backup is a good idea. There are ways to automatically have everything backed on its own so you don’t have to remember to do it. I can help you with all that.
- Recovery Disk/USB Stick – one VERY important item that most people never do is to create a Recovery Disk/USB Stick. This simple task only needs to be done once or after a major upgrade. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours. The purpose of this tool is if Microsoft Windows fails to start, you can use this Recovery Disk/USB Stick to fix the Windows Boot Sector to get your machine up and running again. The most common time this tool is needed, is after Microsoft Windows does automatic updates, some times the updates don’t install correctly and this tool can save you a lot of headaches.
Disk Maintenance – Over time your hard drive fills up with unnecessary files. In addition, files can become fragmented, which would slow the computer’s performance. Regular disk cleanup and defragmenting is essential, especially to speed up a slow PC.
Dust – Considered hazardous to computers, dust and other debris might accumulate in or near your hardware. If you’re using filters, you should service and clean them regularly. Dust in your computer’s fans could be the most serious dirt-related harm to your computer. As the fan runs, dust is being continually sucked into the computer case. Eventually, it will clog the power supply and cooling fans. As dust accumulates, the fans have to work harder. As the fans work harder, they will slow down or could fail completely. If that happens, your computer could overheat and malfunction, which could cause data to be lost. To prevent this, have a can of compressed air handy. You can purchase it at any computer or office supply store. When your computer is powered off and unplugged, remove the case lid and look for the fans. Use your compressed air to blow the dust from the inside out the internal slits from the chassis so that the dust is blown outside the computer. This was make a mess so have a vacuum handy or do this outside. As a regular practice, it’s good to keep your hardware in an uncluttered area, on a flat surface and away from windows to prevent dust and debris from building up.
- Software Updates – Every now and then, a message will pop up on your screen that indicates that your computer is due for a software update. While it’s sometimes easier to just close out of these messages and be on your way, it’s important not to ignore them. Often, the updates that come from your software or from Windows, itself, contain either security patches or other items that will keep your PC at optimal performance. They do sometimes require that your machine restart after installation, so it can probably wait until the end of the day or when you have a break, but do keep them up to date. You can now schedule updates to happen at certain times of the day or week. Use these schedules to maybe update over lunch or a break time where your computer will do the work while you are temporarily away from it.
- Computer Cleaning – Cleaning your computer can be in a few different forms. First, there’s the dust issue, mentioned above. It can’t be over-emphasized that your computer and the area that surrounds it should be kept as clean and clutter-free as possible—but that’s just the outside. The inside needs the same care and de-cluttering on a regular basis. It’s not dust and the occasional coffee spill that you’re watching out for, though … you need to keep your system free of random software and files that may have been downloaded and saved on your hard drive without your even knowing. It does happen, more frequently than you think. Most of these “extra” files that are saved every time you download something from the Internet are not harmful, but they do cause extra clutter that, over time, will cause a PC slowdown and decrease performance.
Laptops – they are designed to travel with you everywhere you go. If you do routine monthly (sometime weekly) maintenance on them, you might help yourself out by avoiding costly (either financially or time) mishaps. The more you take care of your laptop, the longer it will last and you will prevent downtime due to computer problems. There isn’t a lot of maintenance you can do on your laptop, but the few things you can do will help in the long run.
- Clean your hard drive – Over the course of a month, it is easy for the laptop to accumulate a lot of unnecessary files on the hard drive. Take the time once a month to back up your files on an external drive or to a Cloud-Based Service and delete the junk on the hard drive. Additionally, if you download programs on a regular basis to try new things or to have access to new programs for projects, properly uninstall those programs when they are no longer needed. A cleaner hard drive is a smoother running hard drive.
- Defrag your hard drive – when you defrag (defragment) your hard drive, it takes files and organizes them in a better fashion so the laptop can read and write to the files quickly. If your laptop is really new or been updated with a SSD (Solid State Drive), you don’t need to do this maintenance. If you are unsure if it needs it, there is no harm in running it. When you run it, it will analyze the hard drive first and tell you if it really needs it or not.
- Clean your Laptop – Keep the screen clean to reduce eye fatigue and also it is easier to spot dead spots starting in the screen. By taking a cloth and wiping it down weekly, you can also inspect for any cracks or wear starting on it. Keeping the exhaust ports (usually on the side and/or bottom) clear for dust build up will help your unit run cooler. You can use a can of compressed air to blow out the dust (I usually follow that up with a vacuum to suck out any loose dirt). One of the worst things for a laptop is to have it actually sit on your lap or a soft surface. When you do this, it blocks the air intake holes and the laptop will run hotter which over time can cause damage.
- Software Updates – by keeping your software up to date, it might help with any security issues within the software. It will also update any drivers from the laptop manufactures that come out for the laptop to run smoother and more secure.