Basic Maintenance

This morning I talked with Tim Fleming on KGLO about some system maintenance that people should do to keep their systems healthy and running smoothly.  Seeing as the show is local and done at a time that many are driving to work I figured I’d recap some of it here.


At the start of the warm weather I mentioned doing some physical cleaning for PCs.  This was in the form of removing dust and lint from the internals to reduce heat and lengthen the life of the physical computer.  However there are some things that should be done to keep the file system and Windows itself running smooth.  I usually recommend that these be done once a month for the average user.  I have people do this manually because many shut down their systems at night which is when many of the automated tasks are scheduled to run or they don’t leave the system on long enough for them to complete.


First we need to keep the viruses and malware off the system both for our privacy and to keep things running smoothly.  I recommend that you use a good full time virus protection software and run a full scan once a month.  It’s also a good idea to use a couple of other scanners to catch what the antivirus may miss.  For example running Malwarebytes and Spybot Search and Destroy may find more malware and spyware than just an antivirus alone.


Now that we’ve squashed the malicious items on our systems it’s time to plug some holes.  Every month, and sometimes more often, Microsoft puts out some updates.  Many systems have the Windows Update set to automatically download and install these updates.  However this will only install the critical and important, as MS sees it, updates.  There are often optional updates that can be found by running Windows Update yourself.  These updates target specific things that may be of use to you or were found on your machine (i.e. .NET frameworks or hardware drivers).  To find this just click the start menu and look at the top area of the “all programs” area.  If you can’t find it there you should be able to find it in your control panel. Have it check for updates and look at the optional ones listed.  If you find some that you believe are of use, check their box and click the install updates.


Finally now that we’ve used the system for a month and been doing updates/scans we probably want to get the files system back in order.  As we use computers the files get put back on the drive with speed in mind.  This sometimes means that files get split up and put in several areas.  This is known as fragmentation.  Too much fragmentation and your system will slow down as it searches for the files or the files may even become corrupt and unusable.  To get things back in order we use a disk defragmenter that is built into Windows.  The ways to find this is to use the start menu and go to all programs -> accessories -> system tools -> disk defragmenter or go to start menu and right click “computer” (my computer in XP) and choose “properties” then select the tools tab and you should see it there.  Once the program is up you can select the drive (“C” is your main drive) and run defragment drive.  This process will take awhile if it’s the first time you’ve ran it.  Also, for some reason,Vistaseems to take a long time even if done regularly.  Just let it run until it is finished.

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