Computers are a lot like automobiles - they require maintenance
and attention. If one were to drive their car for
years without changing the oil, catastrophe would eventually
ensue. A PC is not much different - neglected it
will become sluggish with unwanted programs running in
the background, inundated with adware, and susceptible
to viruses. Over time, a computer will grow unresponsive
and vulnerable to crashes. Without routine maintenance and good habits, a computer's life span is severely decreased along with its components, and the chance of losing valuable data is dramatically increased.
We don't enjoy invoking the fear factor here, but a computer's worst enemy is complacency. We recommend to every computer user that they remove unwanted software, check regularly for viruses, perform defrags of the hard drive and check it for errors, and always, always back up your data. And in severe cases,
performing a clean-install of the operating system can
do wonders in how a computer behaves. Using precaution and exercising good computer habits can certainly improve the performance and longevity of your system, and will also preserve your valuable files.
The Dos and Don'ts
Run anti-virus programs regularly - Depending on your surfing habits, you should scan your hard drive with a good anti-virus program at least once a week, and make sure that your virus-definitions table is up to date. See our Recommended Software Downloads page for a good anti-virus program.
Back-up your system often - Whether it's to an external hard drive or a tape drive, if you have data that can't afford to be lost, then make a back-up schedule to run regularly.
Provide good airflow to the computer - Most computer desks have a compartment for the computer, however these tight alcoves do not provide the necessary airflow for a machine to run efficiently. Place your computer where it can breathe.
Have a good folder structure for your files - Itemize your files where everything has its place. An organized hard drive makes the maintenance process much easier.
Remove unwanted software - Most of the system slowdowns that we see are caused by unwanted and unnecessary applications running in the background. Remove what you don't need, and keep programs from running on start-up when it is not necessary.
Defrag you hard drive - Don't wait for the hard drive to fail, but rather run a defragging program at least once a month, and if you are a heavy computer user, then once a week - it will prolong the life of the hard drive.
Don't install unnecessary software - Every time you install a program and then uninstall it, traces are left in your registry. Over time, the registry will become bloated causing lag times with your computer. Scrutinize the applications you choose to install, and avoid using betas, if possible.
Don't open email attachments from unknown sources - Never, ever, under any circumstance should you open an attachment if you don't know the sender. Most computers that become infected with a virus happen through a malicious email attachment.
Don't shut off the computer from the power button - Instead, always use the Start menu. Windows runs certain routines upon shutting down, using the power button interrupts these processes and can keep your computer from properly starting back up.
Don't max-out your hard drive - It is good practice not to let your hard drive surpass 60% capacity. Beyond this point of a typical hard drive, you may begin to experience lag times when opening files. And if you reach above 90-95%, system crashes can be expected, potentially resulting in data loss.