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October 13, 2011

Preventive Maintenance for Your Computer

Just like we all or at least should do an oil change every 3,000 miles to keep our cars running properly and go for an annual physical exam so that we are healthy and stay that way, we also need to do preventive maintenance on our computers.  We need to be proactive with our computers, cars, ourselves, etc.  Here are a few computer maintenance tips that will help increase the life of your computer:

  1. Defragmenting your hard drive - This reorganizes the files on your hard drive that allows them to be accessed more efficiently. This should be done on a weekly basis.  If it is not done, your computer will operate at a notably slower  pace.  Go into your "Start" tab select "All Programs" then "Accessories", "System Tools", "Disk Defragmenter".  This can be set to run automatically.  "My Defrag" and "Defraggler" are free programs that will also defrag your computer.  Norton Systemworks is a security suite that offers defragging and can be purchased online and at stores. 
  2. Your computer also accumulates files that you no longer need. These are files such as temporary internet files, deleted files in your recycle bin and windows temporary files.  To clean up unneeded files, go to your start menu.  In the search bar type in ""Disk cleanup" and select  the Disk Cleanup program shown on top.  The program will scan for files that can be safely deleted.  Select those files you wish to delete and select OK to delete.  This should be done on a weekly basis as well.  A free program CCleaner can be downloaded that will perform this and I recommend this program. 
  3. Backup, Backup, Backup.  I cannot say this enough.  I recently did a blog about backing up data.  80% of computer users do not have backup software installed on their computer.  This is a cheap insurance policy against data loss.  Recovering data on your hard drive from a data recovery service will run about $500 minimum up to a few thousand. Recovery is not guaranteed. One service also prices out by emergency service which is 24 hours; priority service which is 3 days; and standard service which is 2 weeks turnaround time. If you want 24 hour turnaround you will pay for that level of service.  As I noted in my last blog, Dropbox can be used to back up your data as well in the cloud as well as to other computers.  Up to 2GB is free.  You can also back up up to 50GB for 9.99 monthly.  I discussed other backup sites in my blog on backing up.  
  4. Make sure your security and anti virus, anti spyware software are current and up to date.  If not, your computer is an open target for new viruses, malware, etc.
  5. You also want to check your hard drive about monthly to fix file system errors and recover bad sectors on your hard drive.  This may take several hours so make sure you will not need your computer for a while.  Select "Computer" or "My Computer" Select "C:" and right click on and select "Properties" and then select the "Tools" tab. You then select Error Checking. Select automatically fix file system errors and scan and attempt recovery of bad sectors.  When you get the prompt asking if you want to run this the next time you start your computer, select yes.  Then restart your computer. Again, it may take a while to run.  
By following these steps you will help to extend the useful life of your computer.