If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation where your system has overheated, due to you not cleaning your fans, lost a large chunk of data due to hard drive failure, or spent several hours, attempting to remove a very dangerous virus from your system, then you’ve learnt a considerable amount, when it comes to maintaining your system.
There’s a saying, that prevention is the best medicine, and this reigns true for life in general, whether it be a clothing item or your personal computer, prevention is your alley.
While the things that I mention in this article aren’t too complicated, they are very important things that one must consider and providing you act on them, it should prevent your system from suddenly dying on you.
1. Don’t Eat or Drink Near It
How many times can you remember having close calls with a drink near your computer? One spill is enough to cause serious damage. You can keep drinks in the same vicinity, but make sure they are not close enough to spill on any of your hardware components. You should also avoid eating near your computer, as crumbs can get into the small areas of your hardware components and adversely affect their abilities to work.
2. Regularly Run Internet Security Software
This point goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Any system that is connected to the internet must have internet security software installed on it. There are many different brands and types of security software that you can choose from. Take some time to find something you feel works best for you. Most of these antivirus scanners have real-time scanning capabilities which means regular scans are not really necessary, but you should run full system scans at least once per month.
Some of these antivirus scanners will also protect your system against spyware and adware, but only some. If you have an antivirus scanner that doesn’t, then there are other security tools, such as spyware removers, that you should also invest in. While adware and spyware tend not to be as destructive as viruses, they can dramatically affect system performance. Make sure you’re running spyware scans at the same time as virus scans.
3. Clean your System
Every couple of months, it’s always a good idea to look through all the applications that are currently installed on your system. If you find something that you no longer use, then you should remove it. This is especially the case when it comes to free games, browser add-ons, and other pointless tools. Be a little cautious, however, as you do not want to remove something that is integral to the smooth running of your computer.
There are tools that you can use that can analyze your hard drive and give you a graphical representation of everything that is stored on it. That way you will be able to better determine what you can and should remove, and what you should not, such as your old collection of music files.
4. Regularly Backup Your System
You never know when your hard drive may fail, thus, its best practice for you to back up your system regularly. In the case of a failed hard drive, you may be able to recover some of your files, but most certainly not all of them, and you’d also need to hire an expert to retrieve them for you. That can cost you quite a bit, the money you could have saved if you’d simply backed up your data.
Using an external hard drive to back up your data, can also save your precious hard drive space, you can also use cloud storage, which tends to be just as efficient and very easy to get to grips with.
5. Update Your System
Always check for the latest updates for both software and hardware. This includes updates for your operating system, patches for your latest applications and up-to-date drivers. The easiest way for you to locate these updates is to go to the website of the developer of the manufacturer, and look in the ‘downloads’ section, providing you know the model number or software version, then you should have little difficulty finding the update. If an application or hardware device is not working as it originally did, then you should definitely consider updating it, if other people have had similar problems with the software or hardware device, then you can be sure that the developer would have released a fix for the problem.
The only exception is probably the BIOS. Flashing your motherboard BIOS can be quite tricky, and if done incorrectly can render your system inoperable. However, if the latest BIOS release addresses problems that you are currently faced with then it may be worth the risk, just be sure to follow the directions carefully.
6. Organize Your Discs
Try to keep all your drivers and application discs in one location, preferable close to your system. A shoebox could be ideal. Make sure you have access to all your discs before you attempt any repairs or maintenance duties on it. When maintaining your computer, it’s more than likely that you will call upon one or maybe two of the discs you have stashed away.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website https://www.compuchenna.co.uk.