It is important to develop good computer maintenance habits to keep your computer running as efficiently as possible. Some time spent taking care of you computer will reward you with reliable service. By doing the following maintenance practices you can keep your computer happy, healthy and trouble free.
1. Error Checking with Windows (Scandisk): A Windows utility that checks the integrity of data stored on a hard disk drive, identifies problems, and where possible puts them right. It's wise to do a thorough check on the status of your hard drive once a month. Applications and files must be closed in order for error checking to fix the problems it finds, so XP will often report that the disk check will run the next time you restart your system if you've checked 'Automatically fix file system errors' on the next screen.
Note: Finding and recovering bad sectors can take hours if you have a large drive.
2. Windows Defragmentation: Reorganizes a hard disk drives data to help increase the proficiency of accessing the data. Hard disk drives that are severely fragmented will take longer to access the data because it is spread across the drive and not located in a central area. It's wise to do a defrag once a month.
VISTA Scandisk: (Note: You will need administrative access to open the defragmentation application.)
The Defragmenter runs as a scheduled task which is automatically enabled. You can modify the schedule and run it by clicking the Defragment Now button.
3. Disk Cleanup: The Disk Cleanup tool helps you free up space on your hard disk by searching your disk for files that you can safely delete. You can choose to delete some or all of the files. Using Disk Cleanup on a regular basis can significantly improve system performance. Use Disk Cleanup to perform any of the following tasks to free up space on your hard disk:
WinXP - Disk Cleanup
VISTA - Disk Cleanup
4. Automatic Microsoft Windows Updates: Activate Windows automatic updates to make sure you are up-to-date on Microsoft windows updates to prevent any vulnerability to viruses, hacking, or spyware programs.
WinXP - Set Auto-Updates
VISTA - Set Auto-Updates
5. Weekly Virus Scan: A good antivirus program is an absolute necessity for protecting your PC and scheduling a weekly virus scan is a good routine precaution. A complete scan is also advised whenever the antivirus program says it has detected and cleaned a virus. Antivirus programs are not effective if you don't update them on a regular basis.
6. Weekly Spyware Scan: Spyware/adware are applications that get installed on your machine without your permission and noticeably slowing your computer's performance. Free anti-spyware tools are available for identifying and removing spyware, adware, and various other non-virus malware at www.download.com. Remember: Once these tools are installed, you need to download the latest updates before a scan is run.
7. Email Attachments: Email attachments can infect your computer very quickly with a virus or worm. You should always be wary of any suspicious attachments.
8. Programs at Startup: Do not let a lot of programs load when you start the computer. Too many programs initializing during startup may slow your computer down and affect performance. Only necessary programs should load at startup (such as virus scanner, computer system utilities, etc.) Programs such as MSN Messenger should not be automatically started when Windows loads. These programs should be configured accordingly.
9. Reboot When Programs Crash: Failed applications can cause other programs to falter. Restart you system after every crash to clear it out.