Basic Computer Housekeeping

We have listed below a few of the things you can do to keep your PC running efficiently. Many of the items take very little time if done regularly.

Virus Scanning & Updating

One of the most important tasks that you should do to keep your PC running smoothly is updating and running your anti-virus software. Ideally, you should update the virus database (the list of viruses that your software will look for) every week as several new viruses are discovered daily. You should run a complete virus scan of your PC at least once a week if possible. Where feasible this should be scheduled to run automatically at a time you don’t expect to be using your PC – i.e. whilst you’re having your dinner!

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Spyware/Adware/Malware Scanning & Updating

Scanning for ‘Spyware’, ‘Adware’ and ‘Malware’ should be carried out on a weekly basis where possible. It normally only takes a couple of mouse clicks to do the scan and in some cases the software will even do that bit for you too! It is also important to keep your software’s database up to date. Again, it’s normally just a case of clicking a couple of buttons whilst connected to the Internet. It doesn’t take long if done regularly and will keep your machine protected.

Firewalls

From time to time you should check that your Firewall is still active and up to date. Again, this is a two minute job that will keep your PC protected from hackers.

SPAM

Where possible, delete any SPAM (junk email) from your PC as soon as you receive it. SPAM can contain malicious files or viruses that are best got rid of straight away. It also takes up space on your hard drive that could probably be better used for other things!

Windows Update

Your operating system (e.g. Microsoft Windows) should be kept as up to date as possible at all times. When a ‘Security Issue’ or ‘Critical Update’ is issued by Microsoft this will be downloaded and installed on your PC automatically without you having to do much at all! Go to Microsoft’s Windows Update page (http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com) and follow the prompts to ensure your PC is up to date. It will probably take a long time if you haven’t updated your PC for a long time, but further updates are normally quite quick.

Backup your Data

Make sure you back up any important files (especially photographs) onto CD or something similar. If your hard drive fails, it can be very expensive (and not always possible) to recover the data. Backing up your data needn’t be a chore if done regularly. It is even possible to semi-automate the procedure using software.

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Disk Defragmentation

Disk defragmentation should be carried out every now and then to keep your hard drive in order. If you save a lot of files or are constantly installing and uninstalling software this should be carried out about once a fortnight. If you don’t use your PC very much then once a month is fine. Defragmentation tidies files that have been scattered all over your hard drive into some kind of order that makes finding them and loading them quicker for your machine. Where possible, close as many programs as possible before running this procedure as files and programs that are opened can’t be defragmented.

File Management

Keep your files (letters, photographs, music etc.) in a logical order. Creating folders in ‘Documents’ or ‘Pictures’ using a meaningful name (e.g. Holiday – Greece 2014) is normally the best way. Getting rid of files that you no longer need frees up space on your hard drive that can be used for something else. It is best to keep your files organised from the start, preventing the ‘tidy up’ becoming a ‘major task’! Likewise, uninstalling any software that you no longer use will free up your PC’s resources.