DIY Computer Maintenance

DIY Computer Maintenance

Most of us know that without proper maintenance, your car’s performance will degrade over time. The same applies to your computers.

Let’s take the old adage that prevention is better than the cure. You should make sure that you put regular time (preferably monthly) in your calendar to perform some basic maintenance tasks. This can obviously be delegated to another team member or better still leave it to a trusted IT professional. But that’s OK, this is a DIY article so onward and upwards!

1. Check free storage available

Lets start with free space. An often overlooked cause of system crashes is available disk space. click the ‘My Computer’ / This PC’  icon on your desktop and simply check how much space is available. A rule of thumb is to have at least 10GB free or 10% of the total drive capacity, which ever is greater.

2. Test backups with a file restore

Peace of mind comes with a regular backup regime. But how do you know 100% that the backups were successful? Include in your maintenance routine to test a file to be restored. Pick a file that is particularly critical to your business. Try to restore it from your last backup. Be careful though do not overwrite the current file with this restore. Pick another folder to restore it to and change the name that is restores to.

3. File Cleanup

To reduce the number of unnecessary files on your hard disk, free up disk space and help your computer run faster, Windows has a tool called a disk cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) . It will remove temporary files, empties the Recycle Bin, removes a variety of system files and other items that you no longer need. Some programs will also compress old files, remove downloaded program files, removal of unused applications or optional Windows components, log files and off-line files.

4. Registry Clean

When you fire up your PC for the first time, its information is well organised to ensure the most logical and efficient configuration. However, as you begin installing software and other applications, the registry, which keeps track of your computer’s software, hardware and settings, becomes less efficient as it retains files and other information the computer no longer needs. The main point to keep in mind when working with registry cleaner software is the obvious risk to your computer. Any time you make changes to your system, you run the risk of something going awry. Please make sure you take a backup of the registry before you run a registry clean. Most common File Cleanup programs have a Registry Cleaner as well along with backup functionality.

5. Windows Updates

Updates are additions to software that can help prevent or fix problems, improve how your computer works, or enhance your computing experience. Microsoft also release security patches to their software when vulnerabilities  are discovered so it is important to regularly download and install Windows Updates. Windows updates can be set to automatically download and install, it’s good idea to periodically check these updates have been , by opening the Windows Update application on your PC.

Windows Update Image

6. Disk Defrag

When you save a file to your hard drive, it can save “fragments” of it in different physical places. So to read or access this file the drive has to do extra work to put all the pieces back together for you to use. This is not an efficient process. A defrag process (defragmentation) searches your drive for these particular files that are fragmented. It then finds a space to defragment and put all the pieces contiguously together. So when you access this file once it’s defragmented, it will be a much faster process. Modern versions of Windows will automatically perform disk defrag process with a tool called dfrgui.exe, however if your moving large amounts of data around you might want to periodically check the Windows defrag tool to ensure that windows is staying on top of things.

7. Test UPS(s)

The reasoning to testing a UPS is the same as testing a backup. You know its on all the time. But how do you know it will work when needed?
Will it keep the power to your equipment when the mains are off? Batteries in a UPS can diminish when they are between 18 and 24 months old and usually need replacing, however only the batteries within the UPS need replacing, as long as the UPS is still healthy and capable of supplying enough load the unit itself maybe fit for use for approx. 4-5 years.

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