Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
We all hear about anti-malware solutions we should be implementing, but what other things should we be doing to keep our PCs running smooth?
What I REALLY need to know is the basic, day-to-day regular preventive maintenance, etc. that I should be performing on this equipment. Stuff that is probably so basic to PC usage that no one has thought to tell me -- what do I need to know and DO to keep my computer trouble as well as virus free?
The virus-free part is addressed in my article Internet Safety: How do I keep my computer safe on the internet? I consider that one of the most important articles here on Ask Leo!
But you raise a good issue - what other kinds of things should we be doing to keep our systems running smooth?
First off, if you do nothing more than the steps outlined in Internet Safety: How do I keep my computer safe on the internet? you're probably about 80% there already.
In no particular order, here are few other things I think that every PC user should consider doing on a regular, or semi-regular basis.
Windows Update: Setting aside malware, Windows Update is a good place to visit for additional non-critical updates to your computer. Updates often include bug fixes that, while not related to malware, can sometimes manifest as crashes or annoyances if left unfixed. Related: How do I make sure that Windows is up-to-date?
Backup: Something will break, and the contents of your computer's hard disk will *poof* disappear. You might be able to get it back or you might not. Are you prepared for the "might not" case? Related articles: What backup program should I use? and So what should I backup?
Defrag: I used to do this nightly, but now do it only once a week. There's nothing really wrong with never doing it, but on a seriously defragmented drive you may notice a minor performance improvement if you do. Related articles: What is 'defragging', and why should I do it? and How do I defragment my new hard disk?
Delete Temporary Files: They have a tendency to accumulate and eat up disk space. I don't have a formal recommendation for how often to do it. Personally, I do it when I remember or when my hard disk seems to be running low on space. Maybe once a week or once a month or so. Related articles: Can I delete the contents of my TMP folder?
Dust or Vacuum: Something that people overlook regular is the accumulation of dirt and dust in and on their computer. Particularly for those of us who are pet owners, it's often easy for fur to accumulate inside the computer and prevent it from cooling properly, thus shortening its life. Related: How should I clean my computer?
There are a few things missing from that list that others may consider important.
Chkdsk I only run Chkdsk (Windows' built in disk-checking utility) when I'm experiencing a problem. It should be benign to run regularly, though, if you like. How do I fix a bad sector on my hard drive?
Registry Cleaners I don't use them, and in general don't believe they're necessary: What's the best registry cleaner?
Duplicate File Cleaners Downright dangerous in my opinion: Is it safe to delete duplicate files?
"Memory Optimizers" Most actually do nothing. Back in the Windows 9x days they may have had a purpose, but no longer.
Ultimately your computer will for the most part run just fine even if you ignore the all steps at the top of this article (except Internet Safety: How do I keep my computer safe on the internet? - that's critical). However performing those steps on a regular basis can help keep your computer running just a little faster, a little better, and perhaps a little longer.
Have a tip for routine PC maintenance? Add a comment.
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