Q. I just bought a new desktop computer. How can I keep it running the best it can? I’m not a guru, so please give me just the basics.
A. Here are five items that will give you a good start in keeping your computer running well. Performing these on a regular basis can help keep your computer running just a little faster, a little better, and perhaps a little longer.
- Windows Update: Setting aside malware, Windows Update is a good place to visit for additional non-critical updates to your computer. Updates often include bug fixes that, while not related to malware, can sometimes manifest as crashes or annoyances if left unfixed.
- Backup: Something will break, and the contents of your computer's hard disk will disappear faster than you can blink. You might be able to get it back or you might not. Are you prepared for the "might not" case? If you don’t know how to back up your computer, or you don’t know WHAT to back up, purchase a program that will do the thinking for you. My personal favorite is Genie Backup Professional from www.genie9.com.
- Defrag: I used to do this nightly, but now do it only once a week. There's nothing really wrong with never doing it, but on a seriously defragmented drive you may notice a minor performance improvement if you do. If you’re running Windows 7 or 8, the defrag is done automatically for you.
- Delete Temporary Files: They have a tendency to accumulate and eat up disk space. I don't have a formal recommendation for how often to do it. Personally, I do it when I remember or when my hard disk seems to be running low on space—maybe once a week or once a month or so.
- Dust or Vacuum: Something that people overlook regularly is the accumulation of dirt and dust in and on the computer. Particularly for pet owners, it's often easy for fur to accumulate inside the computer and prevent it from cooling properly, thus shortening its life. Keep your computer on a surface that is above waist level. This way your computer’s fan isn’t sucking in all the dust created by your footsteps, your pet’s proximity, and the vacuum cleaner’s endless disturbance of what it hopes to inhale.