Most of the time we are in fix when all of sudden our systems behave weirdly. Such problems cost time and effort... so it's best to take some preventive actions so that we can avoid such issues or overcome such problems more easily.
Preventive maintenance is the process of taking actions proactively which prevents the problem or issue from occurring. It not only saves time and money but also makes easier the process of troubleshooting when a problem occurs, protects the data, improves computer performance, and prolongs hardware life. So maintenance effort can turn a deal of great profit in the long run.
Preventive maintenance of system can be categorize in two sections mainly:
But first before starting anything, one should check around the PC for anything nearby which could raise the system's temperature or fall on it. Also check that all the power connections are unplugged and make sure to ground yourself.
Hardware maintenance encompasses preventive maintenance of the following items:
Clean the case:
Wipe the case and clear its ventilation ports of any obstructions, but don't blow dust into the PC or any of its drives. Unplug all cables attached to their connectors on the case and check for pin damage (take careful not where each cable is attached). After blowing/vacuuming the PC, plug the connectors back where they belong.
Maintain the mouse:
If you have a non-optical mouse, then unscrew the ring on the bottom of the unit and remove the ball and clean plastic rollers that are inside the ball's housing. Similarly, when an optical mouse gets dirty clean its bottom protruding edges and the laser lens.
Keep your keyboard neat:
Turn the keyboard upside down and shake it to clear the dirt from between the keys. You can also give it an air blow.
Keep your monitor sparkle:
Gently clean the screen with a standard glass cleaner, such as Glint, and a cloth.
Check your power protection:
Always use surge protector rather putting the power connectors directly into wall outlets. Surge protectors prevent electrical surges from destroying hard drives and erasing data.
Clean your CD and DVD media:
Gently wipe each disc with a moistened, soft cloth. Never wipe a disc in a circular motion.
Clean the CD / DVD-ROM drive:
Clean the laser. One can use cleaning media for this purpose. Many vendors provides cleaning media for CD and DVD ROM.
Give your system an Air Blow:
Give the system an air blow about every 4-6 weeks so that all the ventilation and fans become tidy. That will let the fans exhaust the heat properly.
Change of CMOS:
If your system is 4-5 years old, then it is recommended to change your CMOS battery or you can do it when the system asks to do so. This will enable your system to remember the BIOS settings like of Raid controller and etc. which are very crucial.
Swipe the RAMS and Cards:
Gently wipe the dust from the RAM and from all other cards by using an eraser and Tissue paper or you can also use old tooth brush to wipe the dust in between the circuit. Check RAM chips with utility called memtest86
(but it is a time-consuming process) (http://www.memtest.org/
Periodically check the hardware with some hardware diagnostic utilities like:
Periodic Checkups of HDD:
Check the hard drive status by using Scandisk, Chkdsk and if your BIOS is S.M.A.R.T enabled, then I would recommend you to always activate this option in the BIOS settings so that it will keep you informed about HDD status.
Proactively upgrade the hardware by forecasting the upcoming needs OR upgrade your hardware to meet at least the minimum software requirement before installation of any software.
Check the vendor’s website every now and then for latest firmware version for the system. It is recommended to upgrade the firmware if the vendor suggests it as a critical update or the system is generating issues.
Always keep the system up to date with latest drivers from vendor’s website so the system can work most efficiently.
Windows Service Pack Upgrades:
Check the vendor’s website time to time for latest service packs of Windows and update the systems with it.
Updating the service pack alone does finish the task -- one should download and install the Windows updates time to time from Microsoft’s site (http://www.update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate/v6/default.aspx?ln=en-us
). So the system becomes updated with latest fixes, malicious software removal tool and etc.
Get rid of Temporary files:
If the system has multiple profiles on it and is exposed to the Internet very frequently, then it will contain temporary files that occupy lots of disk space and can sometimes cause slow performance. So periodically empty all the temporary Internet files, files in Recycle Bin, C:\Windows\Temp, C:\Windows\Prefetch and the temporary folder in the user’s own profile. Do not forget to remove files with a tilde (~). TO simplify this task, I recommend a tool called CCleaner
which can be downloaded from following URL (http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner
Delete .zip files:
Users unzip files on their system and leave the zip files which occupy the space on disk. They are typically large... you should delete the ones that you won't need.
Set Swap files:
By default, Windows automatically adjusts your swap file's size to meet its needs. When it makes that adjustment, it can make your system's performance sluggish or sometimes crash it. So I recommend freezing the swap file's size according to your need. That may improve system performance because Windows no longer has to adjust the file size.
Remove Old Programs:
Periodically remove all unnecessary programs, like games, old versions of same utilities / softwares and etc. For un-installation one can use windows add/remove program utility but it can leave orphaned registry keys. So a more effective way is to do this by a utility named Revo-Uninstaller
). This utility not only removes the program but also its registry values.
Adding and removing system components leaves orphaned entries in the Windows Registry. This can cause slow system startup and can slow system performance. So, you should run a registry cleaner periodically. Some good registry cleaning tools are
Windows stores files on a hard drive in rows of contiguous segments, but over time the disk starts to get full and segments become scattered, so they take longer to access. To keep the disk in shape, run Windows' Disk Defragmentation utility. But defragmentation does not defragment swap files so I recommend using a utility named Defraggler
which can be download from here (http://www.piriform.com/defraggler
) it will defrag swap files as well.
Removal of duplicate files:
Users mostly create multiple copies of same files to avoid so by removing them one should save lots of space on HDD for this use following utilities:
Check System Performance setting:
Always set the system for "Best performance." For this, right-click My Computer
and choose Properties
. Click Advanced
, and then choose the Settings
button under Performance
. Now select “Adjust for best performance”.
[Editor's Note:] The above advice applies to systems that are running more slowly than expected. It disables some features that you might really like and that might not be causing any problems. In most cases, the "Let Windows choose..." option will make an intelligent blend of settings that are right for your system.
Remove all unnecessary programs from startup. For this, on Start > Run > type msconfig
now move on to the Startup
tab and uncheck all unnecessary programs.
Check for memory Leaks:
Always keep an eye on the memory leaks. For this one can use system monitor or SysInternal’s utility called Process Explorer
which can be downloaded from here (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx
Always keep your anti-virus up-to-date with latest definitions.
Anti-spyware & Anti-malware:
Today viruses are not the only risk, so keeping up-to-date with antispyware and antimalware enables system work more effectively & efficiently. Here are my recommendations for Anti-spyware and anti-malware:
It's a good idea to place data on secondary partition (or secondary hard disk) and put its shortcut on the desktop for easy access. This will also make system faster as C: drive will be used mainly for installed applications and it may also make it easier to recover data in case of HDD crash. Also place important data on file servers and on Home directories to be on safe side.
Always schedule periodical data backup. That will minimize risk in case of any mishap.