Charles Rogers Computer Services

Computer Tips

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Here's my 7-point maintenance program to help keep your computer running young:

1) Disk Cleanup
To perform: Go to Start, My Computer, then select your C: drive, right-click and select Properties. On the General tab, select Disk Cleanup and at the prompts, select Okay and Yes.

You may wish to delete your Cookies and Temporary Internet Files: Open Internet Explorer and go to Tools and select Internet Options. On the General tab, click the Delete button, select Temporary Internet Files, Cookies & History then click the Delete button.

I use a nice, free tool named CCleaner from Piriform. It will clean out temporary Windows and Internet Explorer files, and remove temporary files in Google Chrome, Firefox & others.

2) Disk Defragmentation
Since XP's retirement, manually defragging the hard drive is a thing of the past. It happens automatically, nothing to do here.

3) Check Disk/Error-checking
For Vista & 7 users: go to Start, My Computer, then select C: drive, right-click and select Properties. On the Tools tab, select Check Now, under Error-checking. Check both boxes and select Start. If prompted, select Schedule disk check, then Yes and reboot.

For Windows 8, 8.1 & 10, error checking happens automatically in the background. No need to do anything. If you wish to do a manual check, perform the above procedure.

4) Antivirus Scan
Open your antivirus program and do a manual Update. Afterwards, do a Full System Scan. I recommend Avira Antivirus or Bitdefender for home and business. A home/personal use product that may be enough is Avira Antivir Personal - Free Antivirus. Another good freebie is Avast Free Antivirus.

5) Adware/Spyware/Bugware Scan
Open your adware/spyware/bugware program and do a manual update. Afterwards do a Full System Scan and delete any suspicious looking files and folders found. I recommend the free Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. I also recommend Windows Defender, that comes preinstalled on Vista, Windows 7, 8, 8.1, & 10.

NOTE: You should have one antivirus program installed ONLY! ... otherwise, performance will be severely impacted.

6) Keep up with Microsoft Updates
Many of the recent viruses and bugs are alleviated by keeping your PC patched with free updates and service packs from Microsoft. Your computer may be receiving these updates automatically, but it won't hurt to manually check occasionally. Go to Start, All Programs, Microsoft or Windows Update; if not, you should go to update.microsoft.com and click the "Upgrade to Microsoft Update ..." link and follow the directions.

7) Backup, Backup, Backup
Your hard drive will fail. Period. You should have copies of your important data (email messages, pictures, letters, etc.) saved to some other place than just your hard drive. Almost every computer nowadays has a CD/DVD burner and disks are cheap. See also: CD Burning Secrets.

- External USB Hard Drives are very affordable now (less than $100), are easy to set up, and provide a quick and easy secondary location to store your valuable data.

- Flash drives (sometimes called Thumb or Jump drives) are quick and easy, too -- and are very affordable now.

- Online Backup is now easy & affordable. You can use Google Docs to share & retrieve your Word & Excel spreadsheets from anywhere; you can use Google+ Photos to share & retrieve your photos from anywhere. For a full, unlimited backup, I recommend Carbonite for a very easy to set up, easy to use, and secure service ... and at $59 a year, I consider it a bargain.

With your original OS and application CDs/DVDs and your data on a backup media (CDs, hard drive, tape, flash drive, online, etc.), if your hard drive fails, you'll be back up and running in no time.

 

You should perform maintenance about once a month. If your computer starts acting "weird" or slow, do all of the above steps. Considering that these steps are free (except possibly cost of the anti virus program) and will keep your computer(s) running young, I suggest you do these on a regular basis. You may well neglect these steps and avoid costly repair bills & loss of data, but speaking from years of experience, it's doubtful. I want you to have a safe, productive and fun computing experience.

Want more speed?

  • Run the scans mentioned above for viruses, adware, spyware & bugware
    -- those critters will certainly slow down your PC.
  • Defrag the hard drive. A misconception is that too many files on your hard drive slow it down. If you keep it defragged and leave at least 20% free hard drive space, you are okay.
  • Your PC may be suffering from an inadequate amount of RAM
    -- call to schedule an inexpensive RAM upgrade quote.

We all like free stuff (check some of my free software recommendations), but be very aware that a heavy toll of adware, spyware and viruses may ensue. The "free" sites are notoriously loaded with "bad ware." You are strongly recommended to check Stopbadware.org before visiting suspicious web sites or installing suspicious programs.

Firewalls are important, but I've seen too many users accidentally lock themselves out of Internet access. Modern operating systems from Microsoft, Apple & Linux have very capable built-in firewalls.

Disclosure: Of the products that I recommend here and elsewhere on this site, I receive nothing in return - no kickbacks, frequent-flyer miles, coupons - nothing, zero, nada, zilch!

If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me .

Charles Rogers Computer Services serves the Dahlonega and surrounding North Georgia areas.


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Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
MCSE, MCP+Internet 
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