0

Maintenance Tasks You Need to Perform on Your Computer Regularly

Share

Maintenance Tasks You Need to Perform on Your Computer Regularly

 

Whether we are talking about your desktop computer, laptop, or smartphone it is important to periodically perform certain tasks to keep it running smoothly. I will deal with Android device maintenance in another post. Over time as you use your computer it can begin to slow down and become more prone to errors. To avoid slow downs, errors, and potential security issues follow the steps in this post. Here are tasks that you should perform daily, weekly, monthly, every 3 to 6 months, and yearly.

Why It’s Important to Regularly Maintain Your Computer

If you would like to keep your computer running smoothly it is important to maintain it. If you neglect basic maintenance your PC will be vulnerable to security threats, slowdowns, and software issues. Here are some benefits of routine maintenance:

 

  • Malware prevention – If you have up to date security software and run periodic scans you will be far safer from malware.
  • System speed – A cleaner and more error free system will be faster.
  • Data protection – If your data is backed up it will be protected if your computer experiences a fatal problem.
  • Early issue detection – Regular maintenance will help you to know if your system is experiencing issues so you can get ahead of and fix them.
  • Nicer looking machine – A clean computer is more visually appealing and much more of a pleasure to use.

 

I am going to outline for you things that you should do to your computer every day, week, month, 3 to 6 months, and year. If you routinely do these maintenance tasks your computer will thank you for it.

Maintenance Tasks to Perform Every Day

Reboot or Power Down

To have a smooth running computer you will need to reboot or power down once in a while. Rebooting or powering down releases memory, can solve software and internet issues, and can speed up overall performance.

 

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Power.
  3. Click either Restart or Shut Down.

 

Update Virus Definitions

The exact steps to update your antivirus will vary depending on which one you are using. If you are using Defender (the one that comes built into Windows) the virus definitions will be updated when you update Windows. If you are using a third party antivirus you should be able to update it by either right clicking it’s icon on the System Tray and looking for an option there or by opening your antivirus app and looking around for a way to update it. It’s important to keep your virus definitions up to date because there are new threats every day.

 

“Every day, there are at least 560,000 instances of new malware being created and detected.”  – DataProt

 

Maintenance Tasks to Perform Every Week

Run Windows Update

Keeping Windows up to date does three important things for you:

  • Patches security holes.
  • Protects compatibility.
  • Gives access to new features.

 

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click Update & Security.
  4. If it shows that updates are available go ahead and install them. Otherwise click Check for Updates.

 

Check for Updates in Microsoft Store

This should be done on each user account.

Updating your Microsoft Store apps keeps both the apps that came preinstalled on Windows up to date as well as the ones that you install through the Microsoft Store.

 

  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Microsoft Store.
  3. Open the three dot menu in the upper right corner.
  4. Click Downloads and Updates.
  5. Click Get Updates.

 

Run an Antivirus Scan

Whenever you install a new antivirus you should immediately update it’s virus definitions and run a scan so it can catch any infections that may currently be on your system. After that it will monitor your computer and as long as you keep it updated it will protect you. That said, it is still a good idea to run a scan periodically in case something does happen to slip in. To run a scan just open your antivirus program and locate the button to start scanning.

Run an On Demand Antimalware Scan

Though antivirus is a necessity it is a good idea to periodically run an on demand antimalware scan. There are a few good choices out there but I recommend Malwarebytes Antimalware. Sometimes it will find things that your antivirus misses. Though it’s never a good idea to run more than one antivirus at once, Malwarebytes is safe to use alongside your current antivirus. I would advise you to opt out of the free trial that they offer when you install so it’s not monitoring your system at the same time as your current antivirus. That way you can avoid any issues with them getting into each others way and causing problems.

 

  1. Download Malwarebytes.
  2. Install the program.
  3. Run Malwarebytes.
  4. Click Get Started.
  5. Click Maybe Later.
  6. Click Get Started.
  7. Click Scan.

 

Note that unless you would like to use Malwarebytes as your primary antivirus you can turn off everything under Real-Time Protection.

Check for Programs that Autorun

This should be done on each user account.

The more programs that start up with Windows the slower it can become. Getting them under control is pretty easy. There are three places that you will find the programs that automatically start when you boot up.

 

  • Task Manager
  • The Startup folder
  • Services

 

Task Manager:

  1. Right click on the taskbar.
  2. Click Task Manager.
  3. Click Startup.
  4. Right click on any applications that you want to disable. If you aren’t sure if it is something that Windows needs to automatically start, look up what it is before disabling.

 

Startup folder:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. At the top click View.
  3. Put a checkmark beside Hidden Files.
  4. Go to C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup.
  5. Delete anything that you don’t want to automatically start.

 

Services:

I need to give a word of caution here. You can cause serious damage to your system if you don’t know what you are doing. Only modify items if you know what they are and what modifying them will do.

  1. Hit the Win + S keys.
  2. Type (without the quotes): “Services“.
  3. Click Services.
  4. Locate the service you want to modify.
  5. Right click on the service.
  6. Click Properties.
  7. Choose Automatic (Automatic Delayed Start), Automatic, Manual, or Disabled.

 

Maintenance Tasks to Perform Every Month

Update Applications

This is important for the same reasons that updating your operating system is important. If you continue to run out of date software you risk security issues, compatibility problems in the future, and missing out on new features. To check for updates for an application you can look in it’s settings, about section, and main menu. It should be located in one of those places. Just look around till you find it. If all else fails Google the program to see if a newer version is available.

Run Disk Cleanup

This should be done on each user account.

First we are going to do a basic cleanup, then we will use Disk Cleanup to clean up our system files.

 

  1. Hit the Win + S keys.
  2. Type (without the quotes): “Disk Cleanup“.
  3. Click Disk Cleanup.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Make sure only the things that you want to delete are selected.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Delete Files.
  8. Hit the Win + S keys.
  9. Type (without the quotes): “Disk Cleanup“.
  10. Click Disk Cleanup.
  11. Click OK.
  12. Click (without the quotes): “Cleanup system files“.
  13. Click OK.
  14. Make sure only the things that you want to delete are selected.
  15. Click OK.
  16. Click Delete Files.

 

Run System File Checker

System File Checker checks for corrupted or missing system files and tries to repair them.

 

  1. Right click Start.
  2. Click Command Prompt (Admin).
  3. Type (without the quotes): “sfc /scannow“.

 

Defragment

Over time files on Windows computers that run a hard drive rather than an SSD can become fragmented which will cause your system to run more slowly. Defragmenting can help speed things up by organizing your data. Keep in mind that if you have an SSD you should never defrag.

 

  1. Hit the Win + S keys.
  2. Type (without the quotes): “defrag“.
  3. Click Defragment and Optimize Drives.
  4. Select your C:/ drive.
  5. Click Optimize.

 

Maintenance Tasks to Perform Every 3 to 6 Months

Clean Hardware

Whether you are running a desktop or laptop computer, it is important to keep it clean. Besides the fact that keeping your computers clean will make them more visually pleasing and pleasant to work with, it also can help improve performance and increase the life of your hardware. As dust builds up it can impede the function of your computer and lead to overheating.

 

Desktop computer:

  1. Turn off your computer and unplug it from its power source.
  2. Open the case.
  3. Take a look and remove large clumps of dust by hand.
  4. Blow the dust off of the internal components with short bursts of compressed air. Try to keep the can six inches from your components.
  5. Blow the dust off your fans with short bursts of compressed air. Try to keep the can six inches from your fans.
  6. Blow the dust out of your ports with short bursts of compressed air.
  7. Remove the dust that is now on the floor of your case. If necessary use a small vacuum to remove it, just make sure not to vacuum over components on the motherboard.
  8. Put the cover back on your case.
  9. Wipe down the surface of your computer and its peripherals with a microfiber cloth. If need be it is OK for the cloth to be damp (not drenched). It’s also OK to use isopropyl alcohol. Be careful around ports not to get any liquid in them. Don’t clean the screen this way. We will go over that in a few steps.
  10. Turn your keyboard over and pat it to  dislodge anything caught in there.
  11. If the keyboard is still dirty it’s OK to use a keyboard vacuum, Q-tips, and swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol.
  12. Use a damp microfiber cloth to gently clean your screen. Don’t use chemical cleaners on it unless it’s a specialized screen cleaner.

 

Laptop:

  1. Unplug and remove the battery.
  2. Blow out the vents and ports with quick bursts of compressed air. If dust is caked on them you can carefully use a Q-tip.
  3. Wipe down your laptop case and touchpad with a damp (not soaked) microfiber cloth. It’s also OK to use isopropyl alcohol.
  4. Clean your keyboard with short bursts of compressed air.
  5. Detail your keyboard with a microfiber cloth. It is OK if the cloth is damp or to use isopropyl alcohol. You can also use swabs and Q-tips.
  6. Gently wipe your screen with a microfiber cloth.
  7. If the screen still doesn’t come clean it’s OK if the cloth is damp or to use a specialized screen cleaner.
  8. Re-connect the battery.

 

Change Your Passwords

It is just good security to periodically change the passwords you use. Here is what changing your passwords will do for you:

 

  • If a hacker has gained access to your account, periodically changing your passwords denies them continued access.
  • It makes it harder for someone else to eventually guess your password.
  • It denies continued access to anyone that somehow gets ahold of your saved passwords.

 

Remove Unused Programs

This should be done on each user account. The reason is because not every user account will necessarily have the same Microsoft Store apps installed.

Leaving unused software on your PC can lead to storage, performance, and security problems. The more programs that you have on your computer the more storage space will be taken up. Get rid of the ones that you don’t use to free up space. Unused programs can also run in the background which will slow down your computer over time. Uninstalling them can give a speed boost to your system. When you leave unused software on your computer it is likely that you won’t update them (they are unused after all) and that can lead to security problems. Hackers will exploit security vulnerabilities in software that isn’t patched through updates.

The following steps will allow you to remove both apps from Microsoft Store and third party ones that you downloaded and installed.

 

  • Click Start.
  • Click Settings.
  • Click Apps.
  • Select any applications that you want to remove and click Uninstall.

 

Maintenance Tasks to Perform Every Year

Replace Surge Your Protector

If you don’t already have a good surge protector to plug your computer into, I strongly advise you to get one. A surge protector will protect whatever you plug into it from damage caused if there is a power surge. Here are some things to consider when choosing a surge protector:

 

  • Make sure it has enough ports to cover everything that you want to plug into it.
  • Make sure it is a transient voltage surge suppressor. That way you can be assured that it will actually protect what you plug into it.
  • Make sure it has an absorption of at least 700 joules and a clamping voltage of 400 V or less.

 

Over time surge protectors will lose their ability to protect you. Many experts recommend replacing your surge protector every two years. I would rather take a more conservative approach and do it yearly just to play it safe.

If you periodically do the above tasks your computer should run faster, better, and more secure. The better you treat and take care of it, the longer it will work well for you. The above schedule is just a recommendation. As long as you perform these steps periodically you should be in good shape. Is there anything you would add or do differently? Do you have any questions or anything to add? Let me know down in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.