Maintaining Your Windows PC

Many users of PC’s may not understand that a computer is a high-maintenance device that demands much more routine care than the usual household appliance.  Many users are unwilling or unable to spend the time and effort required to learn some of the elementary knowledge about how computers function.

There is no question that many PC’s users would benefit greatly from just a little basic knowledge on the subject. From my experience there is considerable reluctance to acquire the desirable basic knowledge.

The following are a few basic things that I feel are good basic knowledge for all PC users whatever their technical background may be. A little preparation will go a long way.

Updating anti-virus protection
Most PC’s come with an anti-virus program. Many users fail to keep their virus definitions updated.  All the major anti-virus programs come with an update feature that should be used regularly.  The major companies no longer provide unlimited updates, but they have started charging after one year’s use. Be sure to renew your subscription when its time to renew.  Your software should remind you when it is time.

Updating anti-spyware protection
Anti-virus programs are insufficient to guard against all malware types. You need sypware protection as well.  Like anti-virus anti-spyware will need to be updated regularly.  Some of the newer version of anti-virus software come with anti-spyware also. It is recommended that you change your protection software to include both anti-virus and anti-spyware.

Preparing for, and managing, disasters
Some common disasters include:

  • Unfortunately, hard drive failure is not all that uncommon. If this occurs, everything that is on the drive can be lost. Sometimes a recovery service can still extract the data. This can be very expensive. 
  • If you do get a virus, a lot of your disk may be wiped out, corrupted, or too damaged to use.  
  • Botched software installations, system crashes, or just plain carelessness, can lose valuable data. 

Ideally, the whole system should be backed up to some external storage device. At a minimum, this should include files such as passwords, favorite places, and address books. Financial and tax records, important documents, correspondence (including e-mail), and any other personal data that has value should be included, as well.

Back these up to some place other than your hard drive.  I prefer an external USB drive.  They are inexpensive, ease to use, and come in a variety of sizes.

Using Windows System Restore
Restore does not replace a regular backup procedure.  The Windows XP accessory System Restore is a valuable tool that can remedy many common problems.  This may be the starting point if you suspect your problem was caused by system updates.  Windows automatically creates a restore point before installing updates,

There is plenty of information on the Internet, and in the Windows help system, about the Windows System Restore utility. All PC users should learn it’s uses.

Disk Maintenance
Making sure that your hard drives are healthy is an important part of maintenance. The Windows command line tool chkdsk should be run monthly to check file structures, folder structures, and disk sectors.  You can request the next boot sequence to include a chkdsk, from the Windows GUI interface.

Windows XP does not seem to need defragmenting as much as previous versions of Windows did, but regular maintenance should still include a Disk Defragmentation monthly

File Maintenance
A certain amount of file housekeeping will help your system remain efficient and stable. Windows programs use a lot of temporary files. These can accumulate at an alarming rate. In particular, the Temporary Internet Files and Temp folders can build up quickly. The Windows Disk Cleanup utility is a great tool for keeping the temp folders clean.

As always if you need help with maintaining your PC or Server feel free to email us or call the CCS Support Department at 1-800-672-4806. We can help with some of the task involved in maintaining your computers.

Have a Great Weekend


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