Even though we are an electronically dependent society, we sometimes have a false sense of security in it. Most of the times we feel that; the computer will always turn on, load up the operating system and have the information we store on the hard drives (internal and external) available, but reality can shatter our false sense of security at the worst possible moment. When it comes to computers, we need to prepare for the worst, and hope it never happens, but many times it does.
Just like people need to go to the doctor for check ups, and make recommended changes in our lives to live at top physical condition, the same can be said for our computers. The more important they are to us, the more we need to take care of them. Let’s start by creating a checklist to maintain our computer;
1. Set a date to go through the computer maintenance checklist, and hold to that date.
2. Decide on how often you should go through these steps. Some do it every 6 months, some do it every 2 months. Decide what works best for you and put reminders on whatever calendar you use.
3. De-dust your desktop Part 1 – The inside. Dust is a silent killer of computers, so just like you dust your house, dust your computer. Purchase a can of compressed air suited for electronics, open up your computer tower and blow the dust out. Be careful, and wear a grounding bracelet if you will be touching the motherboard, etc. Get as much dust out as possible. Don’t forget to get dust out of the receptacles where cords are plugged in, too.
Extra tip: Take a digital photo of how the cords are plugged in the back. I have a lot, and this is a life saver.
4. De-Dust your desktop Part 2 – The outside. Take some time to dust thoroughly where the tower and any external hard drives normally sit. Wipe down all sides of your tower. Wipe down the cords that plug into your computer, and clean dust your monitor screen. Get the compressed air and get the dust out of your keyboard. Take anti-bacterial cloths and wipe down your actual desk top, keyboard and mouse. Think of your health, as you think of the health of your computer.
5. External Hard Drives don’t live forever. Try to remember when you purchase your external hard drive(s) and place a stick on each one with the date you purchased them. Depending on who you ask, external hard drives can last up to five years, others say 2. The best advice is to research and purchase new external hard drives on a consistent basis and clone the information to the newest external hard drive from the old. It will only take one time of losing information from a failed external hard drive, but you don’t need that to happen to you to learn, right?
6. Defrag your hard drives. Information on your hard drives can be placed in different sectors, and sometimes it takes a bit of time for your computer to reconstruct one item from information in different places. Defragging a hard drive can put all the information that needs to stay together in the same are, and saving extra computer time looking for it in different areas next time. Defragging is a very good thing to do.
7. Run a thorough error check. Even though computers are great, there still can be pesky errors lurking in the bowels of codes and cause little problems we would not know about. A thorough error check can spot and repair them for you.
8. Run a deep virus scan. Hopefully, you have a good virus scan setup and are constant checking for viruses, spy ware, worms, etc, but even if you do it’s a great idea to run a full, deep scan to spot any virus lurking somewhere.
9. Clear cache, cookies and temporary files. The more surfing you do, the more cookies, history files, and temporary files can fill up your cache fairly quickly. The fuller it gets, the slower your surfing can become. It’s good to clear out your cache on a consistent basis. I use CC leaner.
10. Back up your information on a reliable source. We have already discussed the life expectancy of an external hard drive, and that it may not be reliable. Backing up your data is critical. If you choose to save it to DVDs, check the DVDs to see if you can access the information directly after burning them. Some use on line or programs to backup their data. My advice is to back up your data and/or your operating system/files, then test it. Again, you never want to learn that something doesn’t work just at the time you really need it to.
Keeping your computer clean and running in tip top shape is the thanks you give it for the fun and help it gives to you.