Just like checking the oil and water levels in your car we should be checking on the health of our computers. Here, David Tyrrell of The PC Support Group (Leeds) provides an overview of what he would recommend:
AntiVirus and Malware
Antivirus software should always be up to date and a full computer scan should be run at least weekly. If this is left unchecked then even a seemingly operational AV system will be ineffective and any new virus could cause havoc on your system. It could corrupt important documents or even attach itself to an email and spread itself amongst your friends and business partners. Most Antivirus software will allow you to schedule a scan at a time of your choosing. Set if for late one evening and simply leave your computer on overnight.
Microsoft regularly writes fixes for issues that are found by everyday people. They obviously can’t get to everyone’s PC themselves, so they put these updates on their website. To make things easier they also give you a program to apply these updates called, unsurprisingly, Windows Updates. Again this can be set to run automatically at a time of you choosing. Personally I like to set mine to download the updates in the background so that I can schedule there install after my Anti Virus scan has run.
Remove Temporary Files
Lots of software will create temporary files whilst running but many don’t delete these once finished. These take up usable space on your Hard Drive so it is best to regularly remove them. Internet Explorer is one popular program that creates lots of temporary files so don’t forget to clear out these too.
You may also have old documents on your machine that you no longer want or need don’t forget that these are taking up valuable space so delete these too.
Once all these files have been deleted don’t forget to empty the Recycle Bin or they will hang around even longer.
Hard Drive Defragmenting
Some people don’t know about this important aspect of computer maintenance whilst others put this off because of the time it takes. However a regular defragmentation of your Hard Drive can improve the performance of your PC. It’s free and so can save money over other performance improvement options. If run regularly the time it takes will reduce significantly.
If you are fortunate enough to own a Solid State Drive (SSD) it is not recommended these are defragmented as it can wear them out quicker, and the performance improvements will be less significant anyway.
These are parts of the disk that are damaged and can’t store any information. As long as the computer is aware of them it can still function normally. Running a regular Disk Check is always a sensible precaution; not only will it prevent the computer from storing that important document on an area it may not be able to read later, you will also be warned if your disk is in bad health which will allow you to do my next tip.
Computers don’t care if the file is important or not so the last thing we want to do is lose that picture of you holding the World Cup or of the first time you held your new-born child. Use a memory stick, Portable Hard Drive or that free space in “The Cloud” but always make a backup of anything important. Don’t just back it up though make sure you can restore it as well.
All of these tasks can be scheduled to run just one evening a week and they won’t even interfere with what you are doing, as you will be tucked up in bed.
Get help rather than put off
I appreciate that to many people the above list can appear overly technical and time consuming and the result is that they don’t get done. Unfortunately not taking action will significantly increase the risk of your computer(s) having problems leading to possible loss of use for a period and/or loss of data. Is this really worth the risk?
If you don’t have the time or the knowledge then bring in an expert to help. At the PC Support Group we provide this service as part of our standard on-going IT support or you may already use an alternative IT support company that you trust; if that’s the case then contact them.