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These computer maintenance tips will allow you to keep your computer running at its peak speed, and maximum efficiency for a long time. These computer maintenance tips are not computer repair procedures, which are covered separately. They are simple things you can do that will make your life as an owner of a computer easier.

The two things that all computer users want is their computer to lasts as long as possible and run as fast as possible. For longevity it’s important to keep the computer clean, preventing dust and dirt from turning into electrical shorts and burning out components. In order to get your computer running as fast as possible there are several computer maintenance tips to follow. Most of them are hard drive related; make sure the hard drive is cleaned of all unnecessary files, data, and programs. This will allow for clean fast read and write operations, achieving increased computer speed. Make sure there are no bad spots on the hard drive, which can slow down reading and writing operations. Make sure you run defrag often, because a fragmented hard drive slows down read and write operations. Check for viruses and adware that can enter your computer via the Internet and degrade the computers performance. Assure that all of your software is the latest version with all of the security patches and fixes, otherwise you are exposed to a degrading of performance. These are the things that I do to speed my computer up.

Will more memory speed up a computer? No. Except when writing to memory large amounts of data and the data exceeds the amount of ram memory, then the computer automatically uses virtual memory. Well, virtual memory is the hard drive, and the hard drive runs thousands of times slower than ram. If this problem occurs often, increase the amount of ram memory.

  1. Keep your computer clean. Eliminate all of the dust bunnies and lint, making sure all of the components are clean.

    • Keyboard. Vacuum or blow out the keyboard with compressed air, then turn it over and shake out any loose debris remaining. It is very important to have a clean computer keyboard.

    • Monitor. Clean off all of the dust with compressed air, and clean the screen with a window cleaner or a damp cloth.

    • Mouse. If you have a ball mouse; remove the ball and clean out all of the dust bunnies and dirt with compressed air.

    • Printer. Open up the printer and clean out any lint and dust bunnies with compressed air.

    • Computer. Over a period of time dust and dirt accumulates inside the computer. This can cause electrical shorts and mechanical wear and tare. In order to eliminate this you must clean the inside of the computer. Turn the computer off, remove power, and open the computer case. Make sure you are using a grounding strap. Then carefully blow out the dirt and dust bunnies with compressed air. Make sure you clean the entire motherboard, the CPU and heatsink/cooling fan, the power supply, the memory, and all other components in the case. If you find any loose particles inside the case, shake them out as well. After the cleaning, check all of the cable connections, making sure they are secure. Also, check for broken and pinched wires.

  2. Backup your data.The one thing you can't repair is lost or corrupted data. This is especially true of one of a kind data (photos, letters, e-mails, videos, contacts, business schedules, etc.). Backup and restore software is provided in the operating system. This is probably the most important of the computer maintenance tips.

  3. Clean your hard drives. Disk cleanup allows you to delete unnecessary files. Such as temporary files, downloaded office files, temporary program files, contents of the recycle bin, and a few others; selectively.

  4. Run check disc. The check disk utility reads and writes test data over the entire hard drive, while keeping your data secure. This will determine if there are any bad spots, areas of the hard drive that are not usable. You also have the option of repairing these bad spots. 

  5. Defrag your hard drives. The defragmentation utility allows you to reformat the data on the hard drive, sequentially; thereby eliminating wasted disk space. Also, this will allow for faster access time, increasing the computer performance.

  6. Set up a RAID system. One of the best ways to protect your data is to dynamically create a backup copy of it. The RAID 1 controller software will do this automatically on a second internal hard drive transparent to the user. While this will cost you an additional hard drive, its a cheap way to make your hard drives fault tolerant.

  7. Firewall. The firewall is a piece of software that blocks attacks from the Internet. It prevents malicious software (malware) from being loaded onto your computer. This is now available as part of the newer operating systems. It used to be available only as part of add on software sold separately. If you leave your computer connected to the Internet, you should have this utility turned on.

  8. Virus scan. The virus scan software is available as a separate product. At this time it is not part of the operating system, but can be purchased or downloaded from the Internet. Beginning on September 29, 2009 Microsoft is making available a free virus scan called Security Essentials. If you are on a tight budget it can be downloaded from the Microsoft website. This product checks all incoming data for viruses. Also, periodically it scans the entire hard drive for malware and viruses, flagging them for you to take action. This can be done manually or at scheduled times. A reputable virus scan company will periodically download the fingerprint of newer viruses so you will be constantly protected from them.

  9. Windows update. This program captures the latest updates, fixes and Service Packs from the Microsoft update website. Periodically these newer versions of the software become available. The update program can be used automatically or manually. It is always important to have the latest corrected version of the operating system running. You should allow this program to run automatically and whenever you are doing maintenance, run windows update manually to make sure everything is current.

  10. Add/Remove programs. Do not leave unused programs hanging around on your hard drive. They will only give you trouble. From time to time you will find a program that interests you, and you will acquire the CD or download it. After a while you will decide the program is of no further interest to you. At that time you should use the Add/Remove utility to remove that program from your hard drive.

These computer maintenance tips will give you the opportunity to keep your computer running smoothly and efficiently for a long time. While they are listed together, some of the computer maintenance tips should be performed weekly or monthly while others should be performed semi-annually or annually. The newer operating systems offer you the ability to schedule some of these computer maintenance tips to run automatically.

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