Maintaining the system is always a good idea, and it should be habitual. We break maintenance into three types: a) continual, b) periodic, and c) occasional. We recommend you get into a routine by inserting to-do’s or calendar reminders to run maintenance until you do it automatically. So let’s look at a good maintenance plan:
- This refers usually to constant or daily practices.
- Use a virus checking tool that is always active (like McAffee or Norton or other). Make sure these applications are in an automatic update mode so if new viruses are found, your tool is automatically updated.
- Use a Spyware remover/blocker such as Microsoft’s Anti Spyware application. Make sure it is also always operating and set to automatically update.
- Use an anti-spam tool or provider and don’t even open the spam. We like that our email server marks spam and then we all have a rule set in outlook that deletes the spam before we even read it. With the proper tools and laws in place today, you should receive very little spam, and if you receive enough to complain about it, you either aren’t using the right tool or have not properly configured your applications.
- This refers to weekly or monthly activities. We suggest which is which below, but readers should adopt best practices based on their own usage of the computer.
- Perform backup’s of your essential documents. There is usually little need to back up applications, as you probably have the CD’s they came on. Just about everything else is found in the My Documents area or as a function of the application itself having a backup process (i.e. Quicken). We like to back up to our server, and we love a utility that essentially synchronizes our PC’s with our backup directories called Beyond Compare. You can also use this utility to synchronize two connected PC’s. Very nice!
- Make sure your file system is error free and tidy. We like doing this about two times a month, or monthly if you do more web browsing than file creation. Windows provides the best utilities for this. Before you do this, note that the process can take up to an hour or slightly more depending on your disk size and content, so plan accordingly. OK. They can be easily seen by clicking Start>>My Computer. Then Right Click on your Hard Drive icon (i.e. Local Disk C:). Select Properties. Click on the Tools tab – then in the Error Checking area, select the Check Now box. Select both boxes and then click Start. You will likely be prompted to do this at the next reboot – select Yes. Now reboot your system and the Windows CHKDSK will start doing its thing. DO NOT INTERRUPT this 5 step process.
- Only after a CHKDSK process as described directly above – we recommend a monthly defragmentation of your hard drive. Again, Windows has this utility and defragment only if windows recommends to do so. Defragmenting will make a big difference on highly fragmented files systems. This tool can be easily seen by clicking Start>>My Computer. Then Right Click on your Hard Drive icon (i.e. Local Disk C:). Select Properties. Click on the Tools tab – then in the Defragmentation area, select the Defragment Now box. Now click on the Analyze button. The system will analyze your hard disk and tell you whether to proceed with defragmentation. DO NOT interrupt or multitask with this utility running. Let the computer do the job, and as we said earlier, it will take time.
- About every week or so, we like to use the Microsoft Anti Spyware tool and click on the Advanced Tools icon. From here, select the Tracks Eraser icon by clicking on it. Select Check All and then the Erase Tracks button. This tool essentially wipes out all the history files, including Internet Explorer, and other applications. You will find this speeds up your web browsing and application launch! Plus it provides great privacy if other use your system. If you don’t have this tool you should get it from Microsoft – it is free.
- Depending on how much web browsing you do, it is always a good maintenance practice to get rid of temporary files that Explorer and other web browsers keep. In Microsoft Explorer it is easy. Right Click the explorer icon on your desktop and select Properties. From the General Tab, click these in order (you may have to wait a while between each selection….be patient). First, delete cookies…then Delete Files (select delete all offline content)…and lastly Clear History.
- More to come……