Computers, unlike a lot of technology in our lives, should have regular maintenance done to keep the machine running in tip-top shape. Between too much data on your storage device, malware and viruses, and even the dust building up on the cooling fans, there are several different things you can do to maintain and ensure that you’re running your machine as efficiently as possible. Here are a few general steps for doing this.
- 1. Back up your data.
- Storage drives die all the time: this is one of the most common repairs we see in our tech shop. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve had someone come in the shop and tell us that their computer won’t work, and that they have a huge term paper, important projects, or family photos on their computer, which they didn’t have stored anywhere else. As more of our lives become digital, and is stored on devices, having your data saved to more than one device is a must. Cloud storage is a great solution for this, but having physical redundancies around as well, ensures that you will always have a copy of your data when the inevitable happens.
- 2. Run a disk cleaner.
- Over time, computers start to slow down from when you first purchased them, as you use them and add increasing amounts of data. Running a disk cleaner can help with this problem. Open source software for this problem exists and works relatively well—at Armor we recommend CCleaner. What a disk cleaner does is clean out old registry files from applications you no longer have, or outdated registry files that weren’t removed with new installs, cached images, documents, and files from websites you visit, and other junk that can slow down your computer over time—especially if you let it pile up. Running this program once a month will help keep your computer running as efficiently and smoothly as possible.
- 3. Run an anti-virus program.
- Most computers, now of days, come with some sort of anti-virus software, from Windows Defender (which is built into modern installations of Windows), to Norton, or anything in between. With hundreds of different anti-virus programs, it’s sometimes hard to choose one that will work for you. At Armor, we suggest Avira, which is free to use if you don’t all ready have an anti-virus program. Having an anti-virus program is great, but without running it regularly to check for viruses, it’s not going to do you much good. Most anti-virus software have some sort of active protection, so it can catch some attacks before they spread throughout your computer, but there are times when something can slip through the cracks. One big thing to note, however, is that you should not install more than one anti-virus program. These programs tend to collide, and can actually create vulnerabilities in your system when running simultaneously, so your best bet is to find one that you like and to stick with it.
- 4. Malware protection.
- You may be thinking, “malware protection, isn’t that what an anti-virus is for?” You wouldn’t be completely wrong in this respect, as a virus is a type of malware. Malware encompasses several other pieces of unwanted software as well, including spyware, trojans, etc. We recommend using malware protection alongside your anti-virus in order to ensure that everything is covered when it comes to scanning for malicious software. We highly recommend Malwarebytes as the tool to do this. The free version of Malwarebytes is good to run regularly, to help to catch and remove things that slow down or forcefully change the way your computer works. One thing Malwarebytes can help protect you from, that most anti-virus cannot, is ransomware or a cyrptovirus, which are becoming more common as technologies evolve. What these can do is lock down your computer and threaten to erase your files unless you pay the amount they ask for, hence “ransom”-ware. With Malwarebytes Premium (which will run you about $60/year), it can stop these before they have time to infect your device and cause an even bigger headache. Malwarebytes Premium can also be used as your anti-virus, which can save you some time and money in the long run as well.
- 5. Clean out the inside of your computer.
- The simplest, and sometimes the most important thing to help keep your computer running consistently, is to clean out the inside. Taking a can of pressurized air, or using an air compressor, and just blowing out the fans can prevent hardware problems down the road. By cleaning out all of the dust, pet hair, and other air particulates that can accumulate inside the machine through the intake fans, you will get better airflow and prevent overheating, which can damage parts in your computer, as well as causing some major slowdown to the computer. This step should be done at regular intervals for the best results, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be done as often as some of the software cleanup we mentioned above. One thing to keep in mind when using pressurized air, however, is that the force of the air can damage some of the smaller components if you are too close, so be sure to maintain some distance when blowing out the inside of your machine.
- Summing everything up.
- With these five steps, the life of your computer will easily be extended, and more importantly, the life of your data will be extended as well. Now, these steps won’t fix failing hardware, but they can act as a troubleshooting process to let you know if your next step might be to replace the hardware. Aside from failing hardware, these steps should keep your computer running as efficiently as possible for years (depending on the age of the device).
If you’ve got any questions about this process, or anything repair related, please fill out the form below, and our technicians will reach out to help you!