Introduction: Steps in Maintaining a Windows PC

Is your PC running slower than usual? Random problems that seem to pop out during the most inconvenient times? Well, I think it's time to do a little maintenance to your PC. Most casual PC users tend to forget doing these things which can lead to problems and occasional slow downs. 

We are here to give you helpful tips to help keep your PC running like new.

Step 1: Anti Virus Software

Let's face it: Windows will always be the number one target to viruses, malware, trojans and all kinds of nasty stuff that will slow down and infect your computer. It's been that way since Windows became popular and until now, Windows 7 is still vulnerable to threats unseen. Because of that, It's always rule no. 1 to install antivirus to protect your computer from being infected.

Since your anti-virus is your first line of defense, you would want to go for a utility that strikes a balance between something capable of defending your PC from the latest and most harmful of viruses and all kinds of security threats but it's still lightweight and flexible enough so it won't eat up resources. When choosing your anti-virus, you'd be like a soldier choosing a gun: you'd go for something capable of protecting you but it won't slow you down.

In the past, PC users would spend lots of money to buy an anti-virus utility. Good thing that now, free anti-viruses are now available online. We recommend you use these free ones since you could try them first and check if it slows down your PC or if they're easy to use. We recommend the following Anti-viruses:

- AVG Free Antivirus - AVG is very capable of protecting your PC with all kinds of threats that your PC might face. It's feature-rich and of course, it's free.

- Avast Antivirus - Avast is recommended because it's very lightweight and it does it's job without you noticing it or doing anything. Which is excellent for any anit-virus.

- Microsoft Security Essentials - MSE is the best Anit-virus utility out there. Not only it's made by the same people who made the OS you are using, but it's very lightweight, it performs its security checks silently without you doing anything and it's definitions are always updated.

Of course, nothing beats good 'ol common sense. Alway remember not to click links from people you don't know or if you think the link is very suspicious. Do not let your curiousity get the best of you. It's better to be safe than sorry! 

Step 2: Back Up Your System

If you use your PC as your primary workstation, chances are you have years and years of work stored on your PC. Now, what if your PC suddenly stops working? How about your files? All those work containing tons of important information gone in a flash. This is why using a backup utility is important.

In this day and age, backing up your important files in a disk or on another drive in not enough. You'll want an off-site backup or a backup of your files outside your vicinity. This way, when all of the things around you fail for some reason, you can easily have a copy of your files because it's stored elsewhere.

Because of this, we recommend you use Dropbox. Dropbox is an easy to use and secure utility to backup the most important of files. The good thing about Dropbox is that you could install their program and it acts like a normal folder where it automatically syncs everything stored in tht folder.

The downside is that you get only 2 GB for free. Which is smaller to some of the backup utilities out there. But we highly recommend you use this since it's the easiest to use and you literally have nothing to worry about. Another downside is that backing up through the internet takes up bandwidth so be sure that your internet can handle it and check to your Internet Service Provider if you have an upload cap on your Internet plan. 

Step 3: Clean Out Your Temporary Data

Another reason why your computer slows down is because of its stored temporary data, it takes up unnecessary disk space that can make your hard disk load your files at a slower rate. Cleaning out your temporary data can free up some space and also reduce the load on your hard drive.

A commonly used program for this is CCleaner which is a powerful tool that can clean up hidden temporary files in your system. It is recommended that you clean your temporary data so that it won’t pile up in the future.
 

Step 4: Defragment Your Disks

Ever wonder if your files are just fixed in one location, as you place it there? Well, it is not. Files in the hard disk are sometimes split in many pieces, and placed in different parts of the hard disk. This results in slower response time, and bad performance for everyone's computer.

 It will take the computer a long amount of time to track the missing files of the origin of the file that is fragmented. But worry not because there is this process called "Defragmentation."

Defragmentation will put these pieces back together and complete the file again in its specific area. This will likely increase the speed of one's computer, and even reduce boot time.

The process of defragmenting could be also risky, though. If one is defragmenting, make sure that the power is not likely to go out because if defragmentation is interrupted, a file could be corrupted. It is also advisable that one should back-up his/her files before doing so.

If you're a windows 7 user, just click start, and type Disk Defragment, and it's right in front of you.

For Windows XP users, click start, highlight accessories, then system tools, then choose Disk Defragment, and you're good to go.

Remember: Put back the broken pieces of your files. 

Step 5: Remove Those Unnecessary Software

Ever wonder why you've taken up so much hard disk space despite the fact that you've deleted plenty of programs? It's simple. Deleting the folder of your programs doesn't necessarily mean removing it. One way to completely remove these programs is through uninstallation.

By just opening one's control panel, and choosing "Programs and Features," one can easily remove a program easily capacitated with a gigabyte or two by right-clicking and choosing uninstall.

If one's uncertain whether the program is safe to remove or not, there are search engines to aid you in these endevors.

It doesn't end there. If one accidentally removes a program that is very important, there's system restore to aid you in restoring these programs.

So what is it, that uninstalling will really do to your computer?

Answer: Piling up files in the hard drive will slow down your computer. Moreover, if one's computer slows down, the performance is sure to be limite

Step 6: Updates. Updates. Updates.

One thing a lot of people neglect is the Windows Update. It keeps the operating system up-to-date, and helps the system run smoothly. Moreover, it even keeps the users' computers safe. Windows Updates gets the latest security for the operating system, as well as the latest system component updates.

High Priority Update- These are the updates that automatically updates the operating system, for these are critical updates, and are very important for one's computer.

If you wish for your computer to be updated, it's simple. If the computer prompts you that windows has an update, and wishes it to be installed, accept. Otherwise, if you would like to check for updates that are not automatically prompted, open the control panel, and choose windows update.

Don't just update Windows, check for updates to your other installed programs. These updates can fix exploits, bugs and can add new features to your programs. Not checking for updates can increase the risk of hackers and viruses

Also update your drivers, Drivers is what keeps some of your hardware running smoothly. It tells your hardware how they should work. Not updating your drivers can also slow down your system, because driver updates are important. They can improve your system's performance as well as solve some issues with the hardware when running certain programs.

Remember: Be UP-TO-DATE.

And you're done!
Be sure to maintain your PC regularly to reduce the risk of failure, viruses and crashes.

Comments

author
dpierce7 (author)2011-10-10

After removing programs and large folder, data is still left in the registry. I recommend running a registry checker to repair the window's registry.

author
dpierce7 (author)2011-10-10

There are other online storage options as well, a simple google search will provide many alternatives. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google are producing cloud services that might soon replace the need for a hard drive.

But for local data, even with a crashed hard drive it's very easy to recover your data. Simply run Ubuntu off of a CD or USB and back up your files to a external harddrive and reformat your computer

author
Bill R TechSpec (author)2011-08-23

Good advice ... if only more users applied it!

I find most users don’t do these vital actions because they take too long, especially defragmenting. If using the built-in utility, defrag can take a very long time (and you can’t use the PC while it’s defragmenting)

I recommend using a good automatic third party program that can defrag transparently while using the PC.

Disks become fragmented with use. Fragmentation is the accumulation of incontiguous pieces of files and free space randomly scattered across a disk. Writing files to such a disk takes a long time (not to mention later accessing, editing and then saving them).

All this slows down the PC and wears out the disks much faster.

A basic defrag program will put all the pieces together, while a good one will also consolidate the free space; the best ones will do so while you use the PC and the best of the best will prevent fragmentation.

Here's a Top 10 Reviews side-by-side comparison of the best defrag programs available:

http://disk-defragmenter-software-review.toptenreviews.com/

The top placers are automatic and they all offer a free trial.

The gold medalist prevents fragmentation.

You can get a free trial via the review or at http://www.diskeeper.com/defrag