Computers Hardware

Tackling Basic Computer Maintenance

Computers, much like cars, require regular maintenance. You don’t drive a car 20,000 miles without changing the oil, replacing the belts and checking the fluids at least a few times, so why would youuseacomputerforyearswithout performing any maintenance? If you’ve ever witnessed a once lightning fast computer slow to a crawl, you’re familiar with the consequences of computer neglect. I’ve witnessed, on several occasions, people throwing out their old computer and replacing it when it begins to show signs of slowing when all their PC needed was a little care. By performing some preventative maintenance you can extend the lifespan of your system and avoid costly repair bills.

Themainreason a computer begins running sluggishly is because there are too many programs trying to run at once. Think of a large bucket of water being used to fill a bunch of cups. The more cups you fill, the less water you’ll have for more cups. Likewise, your computer only has so much hard drive space and processing power, so it can only sustain a certain number of programs. By uninstalling unused programs (like all those toolbars for Internet Explorer and Firefox), you not only free up hard drive space, but prevent anunnecessaryprogram from taking up your valuable system resources. Also, try changing your programs’ settings to prevent them from automatically starting when you log on to your computer.One type of program that requires special care to disable and remove is malware, which includes viruses, trojans, worms, and spyware. These programs do a variety of nasty things to your computer, from gathering personal information to destroying data and, increasingly often, giving the person who wrote the program control of your computer. The best way to get rid of malicious software is with a program, like Microsoft Security Essentials or Clam Anti-Virus. Don’t think you have to spend big bucks on an anti-virus, either; many of the best virus removal programs on the market are free for private use. Additionally, make sure you install updates as soon as they become available. Most updates, especially for Windows, are security patches made to address prominent flaws in your computer’s software.One aspect of computer maintenance that’s consistently overlooked is caring for the physical components of the computer. A computer tower shut up in a small space (inside of a desk, for example) can start overheating and lead to hardware failure, so keep your computer in a well-ventilated area. Periodically open your computer’s case and blow out any accumulated dust with a can of compressed air. Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean out your computer, because there are many fragile electronic components inside your computer that can be damaged easily.

Most of the PC problems people encounter can be easily avoided with a little bit of knowledge and preparation. Removing useless software (or not installing it in the first place!), having a good anti-virus program and caring for the physical components of your machine will go a long way towards keeping your computer out of the trash can and on your desk, where it belongs.