by Justin French, Perfect Integration – Small Business Computer Consultants
Implementing these tips will help prolong the life of your computer
Like most people, I bet you’re pretty careful about maintaining your car. You change the oil every 3,000 miles, fill up your gas tank when it’s down to one- quarter full, and bring your car to the dealership every 7,500 miles for a thorough tune-up.
Yet if you’re like most small businesses, you do absolutely nothing to maintain your PC until the bloody thing crashes. “Most computer crashes are the result of very silly things that can be prevented,” says one small business owner in Carlsbad CA. “If I buy a computer the same day as you, and it is exactly the same computer, and we both utilize it for a period of one year, and I conduct the 8 steps and you do not, my PC will run more efficiently, and I will be twice as productive – GUARANTEED, says French”
Here’s a checklist of eight things you should frequently do to maintain your PC. I strongly recommend you print out this column and tape it on your computer monitor where you can see it every day. Note: The following applies only to PCs using Microsoft Windows operating systems.
1. Delete your deleted items. If you use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express as your e-mail program, you have two folders called “Sent Items” and “Deleted Items.” The “Deleted Items” folder contains copies of all e-mail messages you’ve deleted from your Inbox, while the “Sent Items” folder contains copies of all e-mail messages you’ve sent or forwarded. You should go through these files every week, save the ones you absolutely need, and delete the rest. French says he recently worked with a client who had more than 10,000 messages in these folders and couldn’t understand why his PC was operating so slowly.
2. Toss your cookies. Your PC keeps copies of every Web page you’ve ever viewed in a “Temporary Internet Files” folder, while a separate “Cookies” folder contains programs that help marketers track you down. You don’t need these files, and they can take up an awful lot of space. Delete them weekly.
3. Delete your “Temp” files. These are files that end in “.tmp” that French says can easily be found by searching your computer for “*.tmp.” Also delete them weekly.
4. Reboot your computer frequently. Most people start their PCs in the morning and keep them on all day (and sometimes all night). French says most problems can be solved from re-booting. Rebooting your PC at the beginning and in the middle of the day will recover system resources so the computer will work more efficiently sometimes.
5. Defrag, defrag, defrag. When your PC puts stuff onto the hard drive, it does it in random sequence. As a result, you often end up with little bits and pieces of programs scattered throughout your computer’s hard drive. While usually harmless, French says these bits and pieces “can be a little bit like space debris; they’re small and widely scattered, but if one gets in the way while you’re downloading a new program, there can be trouble.” Your PC has a “defrag” (short for “defragmenting”) program that organizes all these pieces of data. French says you should use it at least once a month, “more often if you’re running low on free disk space,” but points out that if you have less than 25 percent of your hard drive free, it may be difficult to defrag the drive. Warning: If you haven’t “defragged” in a while, running this program can take a few hours.
6. Run ScanDisk. You should run Windows’ “ScanDisk” program at least once a month. “ScanDisk is extremely thorough,” says French, “because it looks at every single file on your computer’s hard drive, decides if it’s necessary, finds a place for it if it is necessary, and deletes it if it isn’t.” French warns that running ScanDisk in “Thorough” mode can take several hours. “I tell clients who haven’t used ScanDisk in a long time to run it right before they go to bed; the program will usually be finished by the morning,” says French.
7. Dust. Finally, French says you should eliminate as much dust as possible from your computer. At least twice a year, you should:
- dust and vacuum your computer keyboard and monitor;
- remove the trackball from your mouse and blow out any dust
“Dirt and dust tend to make the computer’s temperature rise, which can damage the processor. Dirt can also create short circuits, especially in the power supply.”
8. Don’t forget to do your Windows Updates! Microsoft Windows software lets users know in the lower right-hand corner of the desktop when new updates are available for installation. You should stay on top of these. These are critical updates from Microsoft that fixes vulnerabilities that are discovered on a regular basis from their engineers.
Perfect Integration offers Scheduled maintenance of the 8 steps for a reasonable cost for small businesses that want to focus more on their business and less on their PCs!
Request our FREE REPORT on how to cut computer service costs by 25% and increase productivity in your business by 25% in the first year!