Sometimes we forget that our computers need maintenance to prevent bad performance and premature failures. Just like we take our car in to have the oil changed and the tires rotated, we need to regularly maintain our computers to keep them in top shape.
Computers have several different areas of upkeep. First, and most often, we want to ensure the security of our computers and our data. This means checking antivirus updates and verifying our backups are running properly. In some cases, we also want to look into any unauthorized access by checking physical security, firewalls, and software patches.
Secondly, we want to make sure our hardware is in good running condition. This might include taking the cover off and cleaning out accumulated dust, or checking the CPU temperature and cooling fan operation. More frequently, we want to clean our mouse and keyboard, as well as our monitor screens.
Performance can be affected by both ‘virtual clutter’ and disorganization. Virtual clutter is what I call those things that accumulate over time such as temporary internet files, leftover files from software installations or removals, and obsolete or invalid entries in the system registry. Computers also get disorganized in the way they store and retrieve information. The most common and best known of this type is file fragmentation. How many times has your technical consultant asked, “When was the last time you defragmented your hard drive?”
Okay, so now we’ve mentioned several things we need to maintain – the next question is, how often do we need to do these things? The answer to that will vary from one situation to the next. Just as you get the oil in your car changed every 3 months or 3000 miles, you also have to consider both time and usage when deciding how often you need to maintain your computer. Additionally, some items demand more frequent attention than others. For example, you may only clean the dust out of your computer once a year – but you may want to make sure your backups are running every night or every week.
Getting professional help for preventive maintenance is sometimes a good solution for when we don’t really have the time or know-how to keep our computers running smoothly in a proactive manner. A good computer consultant will offer various different maintenance plans or customize a plan for your specific needs.