MAPCON Maintenance Software Article Series

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Preventative Maintenance for Computers

Lisa Richards, Educational Outreach Writer

Like many other pieces of technology, computers see constant wear and tear from being used. Simple things like downloading files, clicking on harmful sites by accident, and allowing dust to settle on the keyboard can build up to the computer slowing down and possibly being unusable. However, by running anti-malware programs, deleting files as needed, and cleaning out the dust on a computer, you can all prolong the lifespan of your computer for years of extra effective use. Whether they"re tasks that should be done every day, once a month, once a year, or only when needed, below is a list of maintenance tasks to perform to get the most out use of your computer.

Daily:

  • Try to back up your data at least once per day – no one wants to lose projects you spent hours, if not days working on.
  • Run a malware scan to stay on top of virus prevention. If you have any real-time prevention tools even then some viruses may slip by. Depending on how frequently you use the computer you can get away with doing this once a week; more frequent computer users should do this daily.
  • Check for updates every day so you don't miss any crucial upgrades, nor will you have to spend hours installing dozens at a time if you procrastinate it.
  • If you use your computer for many hours at a time during the day, then plan to restart it at least once. This way, temporary files won't build up and slow down use over time.
  • Never shut down by using the power button – always use the option from the start menu! Never leave your computer on overnight either to save electricity and to prevent wear-and-tear.

Monthly:

  • Use the defragmentation tool to keep your PC running fast and efficiently. This tool puts files back together that are split apart to different folders in your PC over time.
  • Scan your hard drive for errors to make sure there are no physical problems occurring. This doesn't check for viruses or malware, but more so physical and logical problems.
  • Clean out your disk drive every few weeks. Similar to defragmentation, these are small pieces of trash that quietly accumulate over time.
  • Physically clean your computer by using compressed air to blow out dust and small pieces of dirt. These small particles build up over time and can lead to computers physically overheating and other mechanical problems.

Yearly:

  • Backup your hard drive as an image, so if your PC ever crashes you won't have to reinstall from scratch. This should be done twice a year, just to be safe.
  • Either you, a friend, or a professional should do a thorough cleaning of the computer. This goes beyond simply using compressed air and actually opening it up to get rid of all of the smaller bits and pieces of dirt stuck in there.

As Needed:

  • Uninstall programs that you don't use anymore to free up space.
  • Practice safe browsing by not downloading files from or spending time on sites you aren"t familiar with or may be untrustworthy since this is how people generally get malware.
  • Change passwords frequently as a general preventative measure against hackers.

Additional Maintenance Tips:

  • Get a good surge protector for plugging your computer into the wall.
  • Make sure your computer is plugged in properly and set up in a safe way. No wires should be loose and hanging around near any open heat sources.

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