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Basic Computer Maintenance

Written by:
Santana Holcomb
5 Star Support Technician
  • Clean files:
First off you need to delete all your trash, temp files, and files you no longer need. While in an ideal situation these temp files are deleted when the applications close but they arenít. With poorly written programs, computer crashes, hanging programs and improper shutdowns always leave unneeded temporary files on your hard drive. These files pile up and start eating up hard disk space and start impairing computer performance. If your computer is moving at a snail pace then deleting the accumulated temp files may help to speed it up. You can  fix some shutdown and download problems by cleaning up your temp files. Do the following:
  • Start > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup
  • Select the drive you want to clean. When it has finished, select the items that you no longer want.
Recommend: Clean 'Downloaded Program Files', 'Temporary Internet Files', 'Recycle Bin' and 'Temporary Files'.
  • Remove unwanted startup items:
You might notice one day unrecognized items in your task tray. If you have unwanted items starting with windows it can and will slow down the boot process and they will take up memory. Do the following:
  1. Start Menu > Programs > Startup. You will find programs in this folder, just delete the ones you do not want to start with windows. Then move on to the following:
  2. Start Menu > Run > Type in: msconfig.exe  [Enter] Click the Startup tab and uncheck any items you donít want to startup.
Recommend: If you are not sure what it is leave it and do a Google search on it.
  • Remove unwanted applications:
You will have programs that you installed that will install other programs that you might not know about. Remove unwanted applications as they can overtime slow your system down. You cannot uninstall an application by just deleting files. Do the following to remove them:
  • Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs. Here you can remove all programs that you do not need or want anymore. Select the application and click the remove button. This will uninstall the selected application.
Recommend: If youíre not sure then leave it and do a Google search on it.
  • Clean and Defrag your registry:
With time your registry becomes fragmented and bloated with obsolete and invalid data that causes errors slowdowns and freezing of your system. Windows will try to load things that do not exist any more because of invalid registry entries so it then slows  down your system leads to errors. Use Advanced Registry Optimizer. Select all 3 of the programs options and run them. Be sure to make a backup, just in case of a problem.
  • Scan for adware and spyware:
In general, you do not want anything that relates to these topics on your computer. Adware is basically ads that can be found in programs or on websites. This adware selectively installs tracking software which is called spyware. This software runs behind the scenes and sends information to home. It is constantly using your memory, hard drive space and even your internet connection! Spyware has been known to stop browsers from working and even rendering a computer useless.
  • Application: Spybot
Directions: Update this program, immunize, and run it. When it has completed, remove everything it has detected.
  • Application: Ad-Aware
Directions: Update this program and run it. When it has completed, remove everything it has detected.
  • Scan for viruses:
For those who do not know by now viruses can render your  files useless on your computer and can corrupting your complete system. I do not think I  need to go too deep about this. Use your anti-virus to check your system regularly. Recommend: That you use one of the online scanner to check your system every other month. No one anti-virus program will find all viruses but some do a better job then others.
  • Defrag your hard drive or hard drives as the case maybe:
Your computer writes to the first available area on your hard drive. Then over time your files start to be rearranged on your hard disk or fragmented as most will say.  When your hard drive is fragmented and you try to load a program it may have to get 1 file from the inside of the hard drive, 1 file from the middle, then maybe 1 from the outside. This will cause a slower running system. When defrag your hard drive it tries to put the files back in order by organizing them in similar groups. That way the hard drive is hunting all over looking for them and that speeds up your system. Do the following:
  • Start Menu > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter/Check Now.
  • Select the drive you want to defrag. When it is done you can close the window or select another drive to defrag.
Recommend you defrag at least once a month
  • Clean your computer case:
Dust is a problem that affects everyone no matter where you live and even more if you live in a area where the dust is bad. If you have not cleaned the inside of your computer case in 6 months or longer than you need to get right on it.  Dust build up is the number 1 computer killer/ problem causer in my humble opinion. Buy yourself a can of compressed air. Buy a 1 inch paintbrush for brushing off things.

Recommend: Start by unplugging your system from itís power source. Then start from the top and brush all the dust off that you can with the paintbrush and work your way down to the bottom of the case.  Brush all the dust into a pile and use a piece of paper as a dust pan and remove the dust. Then take the can of compressed air and  blow out your cd drive and floppy drive then start from the top again and blow the system down to the bottom of the case.  Stop every 10 seconds or so and take a damp cloth and wipe the dust up on the bottom of the case Keep it up until you have all the dust cleaned up. Use a Q-tip or pencil to block the fan blades so they do not turn while you blow them off.

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