PC Maintenance Tips

PC Maintenance Tips

Keep your computer up to date

For Windows users, go to the Start Menu and search for “Windows Update.” The appropriate control panel should appear in the search results. Click it to read the status of your updates and explore automatic update settings in the sidebar or tabs. You can click on the words “Important Updates” and “Optional Updates” to select or deselect updates before downloading them. You can set your computer to download and install updates itself or you can perform this job manually.

Clear Internet data.

As you browse the Internet, your computer collects bits and pieces of information that can eventually build up to the point that they cause performance issues, especially on older and slower machines. The most basic way to do this is by using the tools that come with your Internet browser of choice. Microsoft Internet Explorer users on Windows can clear all temporary data by visiting the Internet Options control panel item and clicking the Delete button on the General tab under the Browsing History subheading.

If you’re using IE on a non-Windows computer, simply open the Tools menu, choose Options, and select the data you want to clear.

To Erase Temporary Files

cookies, and cache data from Firefox, open the Firefox menu and open the Options window (this may require selecting Options from the drop down menu and then selecting Options again from the menu that appears). Once there click the tab or button that says Advanced, and then choose the Network tab underneath that. Find the box that has Offline Web Content in its header, and click the Clear button to clear your data.

To clear data from Chrome

simply hold down Control and Shift, and type Delete (as opposed to the Backspace button). A new tab will open up with a simple menu. Select the data you want to erase, set the time frame using the box in the upper right, and click Clear Browsing Data when you’re satisfied.

Check for ad-ware and malware.

Ad-ware and malware are types of programs that can compromise your computer’s performance and create security weaknesses. There are specialized free programs designed to find and erase ad-ware and spyware. Install and run the program (it’s pretty straightforward) to find and delete offending files.

The best way to avoid ad-ware and malware is to never download anything you’re not sure of, and never agree to install anything extra that comes packaged with software you choose to install.

Check for viruses and other immediate threats.

The best way to defend your computer against truly malicious threats is with a powerful antivirus program. Both Mac and Windows users have access to good free options that work at least as well as paid brands. Install them and allow them to run in the background at all times. When you first install them, or if you suspect a virus may have been missed, you can run them manually as well.

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Since new viruses are always being designed and released, it’s very important that you allow your antivirus program to update as often as it needs to. Normally, this should take place in the background, without you having to do anything.

 Run maintenance on your hard drive.

Most computers made within the last several years take care of these tasks automatically, but you’re always free to take care of them yourself if you want. The key tools are (1) disk defragmentation, which organizes the jumbled bits of data on your drive so that they can be found more quickly, and (2) disk cleanup, which deletes duplicate files and unused temporary ones to free up space.

Since the location of these tools varies from version to version of Windows, it’s best to use a Start Menu search to find them quickly. Simply open and run them from the search results to speed up your computer, if the tasks haven’t already been scheduled to run automatically.

 Remove unwanted programs

If you have extra programs, you remove them easily on Windows by using the Programs and Features (newer) or Add/Remove Programs (older) control panel. Highlight a program to see available options, and click to completely uninstall it. This is preferable to simply deleting the application yourself, as it removes files the program may have installed elsewhere as well.

Keep your system backed up. Once you’ve cleaned up your computer, it’s time to preserve it in time so you can go back to a clean version if anything catastrophic happens in the future. This works quite differently depending on whether you’re using a Mac or Windows, but the process is simple in either case.

Windows users should do a Start Menu search for “system restore,” and choose to create a restore point, which the computer can be rolled back to in the event of a disaster.