Computer Maintenance 101: How to Take Care of Your Computer

At least $300. That’s how much money it will cost if you want to get a basic new PC. Why do this when you can do a little work yourself to keep your computer running smoothly?

If you ignore computer maintenance, you run the risk of ending up with a non-functioning PC. Follow the computer maintenance tips below to keep your PC in working order.

Install Your Operating System and Software Updates

No software is perfect. No matter how much time you put into creating something, there’s going to be the chance of something going wrong. The problem comes when users don’t update their software to fix these issues.

Make sure you set your computer to automatically download operating system updates. You never know when a security issue will come up that exposes your PC to hackers. By telling your computer to download these patches, you can be sure that your PC will remain protected.

The same is true for any software that you install on your computer. Regular updates will patch any security holes and make sure that you’re using the latest features that your software provides.

Keep Updated Antivirus Software

The internet is a dangerous place these days. You have many hackers out there that will regularly try to trick you into downloading malicious software on your PC. An updated antivirus and antimalware software package will help protect your computer from these files.

Antivirus software contains a database of virus signatures that contain all the known threats on the internet. When you download something from the internet, your software will compare it to these definitions. If it finds a match, it will quarantine that file so it can’t infect your PC.

Of course, hackers create new security threats all the time. You might accidentally download one before you can update your virus definitions. Your antivirus software solves this by regularly scanning all the files on your PC to find and remove problem software.

Remove Dust From Your Case

Dust accumulating in a PC isn’t the same as dust on the surface of your furniture. If you let too much dust into your PC, it can cause problems.

Your PC needs proper airflow to be cooled. When there is an excess amount of dust, it makes it harder for that to happen. Unfortunately, your fan won’t always be able to speed up enough to keep your equipment cool.

When your PC heats up because of this, it will start damaging your equipment. The problem areas are your motherboard and CPU. Overheating will cause them to malfunction, which means you’ll need to buy a new PC.

The good news is that this is an easy problem to solve. You can handle this with a can of compressed air. Take the siding off your case and blow the dust out of your computer.

Backup Important Information

Computer hard drives aren’t infallible. They degrade over time and will eventually fail. If all your essential data is on your hard drives when this happens, you’re probably out of luck.

You can move your valuable data into cloud backup solutions to solve this problem. You can sign up for a cloud storage account or use a backup service.

With a cloud account, you’re responsible for moving your files yourself. You’ll need to make sure that anything you don’t want to lose is stored online.

With a backup service, your backup happens automatically. Your backup service includes software that you install on your PC. Set your schedule, and all your files will automatically upload to your account.

Remove Unneeded Applications

Is your computer running slower than you like? You might have applications running in the background that don’t need to be there.

To start, head to your programs list to take a look at your installed apps. Look through your list to see if there is anything you don’t recognize. Look it up to see if those applications are necessary, and remove them if they aren’t.

The next place to look is your startup programs. Too many applications in this list can cause your computer to slow down when it starts. Disable anything that you don’t want running at startup to improve your startup speed.

Watch Your Power Management

The last thing you want is for a power surge to happen when you have a computer plugged into a wall power outlet. Your computer can fry when this happens. You’ll need to take it to a repair shop, replace it, or read this post to learn about circuit board repair to try and fix things yourself.

If you want to avoid that hassle, invest in a surge protector. A good surge protector can handle all the components for your computer. If a surge does happen, everything will be protected.

Just be careful about using too many high-power products on one power strip. Too many items can overload a protector and cause problems, as well.

Run a System Cleaner

Viruses aren’t the only unwanted files that end up on your computer. As you use your system from day to day, junk files get left behind on your system.

Unfortunately, all of these files take up space. Your software will output a few files, but most of them will come from your internet usage.

Every time you use the internet, your browser downloads temporary files to your computer. Your browser does this for fast access in the future. It means you don’t need to download the same information over and over again.

As time goes on, this uses up a lot of disk space. This is because many of these files are large images. A software program that scans these folders for temporary files and removes them will free up a lot of disc space for use.

Use System Restore Points

Software and operating system updates work well most of the time. Unfortunately, that won’t always be the case.

You never know when installing a program or update will cause a conflict on your computer. When this happens, it can cause issues when your computer runs. In other cases, your computer might not start at all.

Instead of trying to track down the issue yourself, use a system restore point. A restore point is a snapshot of your computer configuration. They allow you to roll back to a previous point in time when everything ran correctly.

Your PC creates restore points automatically when you install and update software. Turn them on so you can easily roll back changes when problems occur.

Manage Your Cables

A pile of messy cables might not affect the day to day operations of your PC. However, they can cause problems if you let the mess get too large.

If your cables are everywhere on the floor, you run the risk of tripping on them. When you connect your cords to your PC, you have the chance of yanking them out of their ports. You run the risk of accidentally pulling your computer off your desk or damage the ports the cables connect to.

If you plan to leave your peripherals plugged in, invest in a cable management product. These products will allow you to organize your cables, so you don’t accidentally yank them out.

Defrag Your Hard Drive

Do you still have a regular hard drive on your computer? If so, your PC might access your files slower than it needs to.

Your computer accesses files in older hard drives sequentially. That means if files you need are at the end of your disc, it’s going to take longer to access them. This is a problem for data you use a lot.

Defragging your hard drive fixes this issue. This process moves your commonly moved files to the start of your disc. Doing this process once per month will help keep things speedy.

Just make sure you skip this step if you use a solid-state drive. Doing this will cause wear on your SSD drive that reduces its life span.

Keep Your Firewall Running

The internet is commonplace these days. While this provides a lot of benefits, it also carries risks.

Your computer is usually connected to the internet at all times, so you run the risk of hackers connecting to your computer network and breaking into your computer. When 1,300 internet crime complaints happen every day, this is a risk you can’t take.

A firewall will block much of the internet traffic from reaching your PC until you allow it. You can allow for individual applications to send and receive traffic, so nothing will get in unless you allow for it.

Make Computer Maintenance a Routine

You might be able to get away with ignoring computer maintenance for a while. The problem is, little issues will always come back to haunt you in the future. Take PC maintenance seriously from the start, and you’ll have a computer that will last for a long time.

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