To some people, the idea of taking care of their computer might seem a little intimidating. Most people find it much easier to have a tech-savvy friend or relative who can do it for them if they’re willing.
But, you don’t always have to have someone to help you with the basics of computer maintenance. It’s easier than you might think to maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly. By carrying out a few regular tasks each month, you can help to prevent a range of problems.
Our Monthly Computer Maintenance Checklist
Prevention is the best strategy for keeping your computer in good health, so taking the time to maintain your computer will benefit you. So, here is our top 10 monthly computer maintenance checklist.
1. Stay Up to Date
Updates are important for protecting your computer against any problems. You should keep your computer up-to-date with any new updates for your operating system, and also make sure to update your third-party software as well.
In particular, make sure that you keep your antivirus software up-to-date. Your antivirus software should have updates, not just to improve its features, but also to update its database of malware so that it can detect the latest threats.
You can check manually for updates on a monthly basis, or alternatively, you can switch on automatic updates. Your computer will then update itself without you having to do anything. Although, you might be asked to give permission for some updates or to schedule them at a convenient time.
2. Carryout Scans and Checks
Installing antivirus software is essential to keep your computer in good condition, but you also have to make sure that you use it properly. Even if you have lots of tools in place to protect your computer, there are still things that can slip through the net.
You can set up your antivirus software to perform regular scans on a schedule, so you don’t have to remember to do it manually. Weekly or monthly scans will help to keep your computer clean. However, you can still carry out a manual scan whenever you feel you need to.
3. Clean Your Computer
As well as looking after what’s on your computer software-wise, taking care of the hardware is important too. Cleaning the outside of your computer and hardware will ensure that it works as well as it should.
Pay particular attention to the fans, which can get dusty and lead to overheating. A soft brush or cloth is useful for cleaning your computer, but you might also use a gentle desktop vacuum cleaner or other tools designed for keeping a computer clean.
4. Clean Up Your Files
The files on your computer also need cleaning up. Some of them could be malicious but there are also many files that can simply take up precious memory and slow your computer down.
You can start by emptying your recycle bin, which you can do manually. It is then advisable to clean up other hidden files that are stored deep within the operating system.
On a Windows computer, performing a disc cleanup will help to identify any files that you might not need anymore. You can find the disc cleanup function in system tools and pick the drive that you want to scan.
Alternatively, if you are a Mac user, you can use the ‘manage storage’ option when you right-click your Macintosh HD. This will open up a window that shows you all the areas of your hard drive that can be cleaned up.
5. Check for Unnecessary Software
Another way to free up memory is to get rid of any programs that you might not need anymore.
If you have any software that you don’t get any use from or something you installed temporarily that you no longer need, removing it will free up vital space. It will also ensure you don’t have unnecessary programs running in the background.
On a computer running an older version of Windows, you can use the ‘add/remove programs’ tool, which you can find within your control panel, to see everything that you have installed. Or, if you have a more recent machine, this guide from CNet takes you through some easy to follow steps: how to uninstall an app or program in Windows 10.
Again, if you are a Mac user, the steps you take will be a little different. Simply open your applications folder, find the software you will want to remove and drag it to the trash bin. You may find that some software comes with its own uninstall program as well. If this is the case, then make sure you use this option instead.
6. Make Startup Faster
A computer that starts up slowly can be very frustrating. However, you can help your computer to start up faster by making a few simple changes and regularly checking that nothing is slowing it down.
Firstly, you can check which programs are set to automatically open on startup. In Windows, this is done through the control panel – check out this article on how to disable startup programs in Windows 10 for some simple steps to follow.
Apple Macs run a little differently and generally don’t have as many programs running in the background as a Windows machine would. However, it is still worth taking a look within ‘system preferences > user & groups’ From here, you can view the ‘Login Items and disable any software that you don’t need.
Related Article: How To Unfreeze A Mac.
In addition to the above, carrying out simple tasks each month like deleting files on your desktop is a great idea. When your computer first loads, it needs to load each file on your desktop. By removing these shortcuts, it is one less thing your computer needs to do.
7. Clear Out Browser Files
Getting rid of unnecessary browser files can free up memory, and it also helps to protect your personal information. It’s a chance to remove cookies that might be tracking your online behaviour, which you might not want on your computer.
How you remove unwanted files depends on the browser that you use, but it should be easy to find an option for clearing your browsing data in your browser menu.
For example, if you are using Google Chrome, simply choose the ‘clear browsing data’ option from the top menu dropdowns. You will then be able to remove your browsing history, cookies and other site data, cached images and files, plus some more advanced options.
8. Tidy Up Your Cables
Another way of taking care of your hardware is to tidy up your cables to keep them organised and out of the way. You can end up with lots of cables for various devices (printers, scanners, cameras, external hard drives, etc), and they can easily become damaged if you don’t take care of them.
Keeping them neat and organised, and securing them out of the way, can help to prevent any breakages that could cause problems. There are a number of options on how to do this, which will come down to space and budget.
Popular options are cable boxes, which you can pick up from the likes of Amazon from around £10.00 upwards. Cable sleeves, which can be purchased for around £5. Or, if you want to keep things really cheap and affordable, using standard cable ties will do the job.
9. Defragment Drives
Defragmenting your hard drive might not be something that you think to do if you’re a computer novice. But it can help to keep your computer running smoothly by rearranging the layout of files.
If you are running a Windows machine, the guys over at Windows Central have written a great step-by-step guide on how to defragment your PC’s hard drive.
If you are a Mac user, you will be pleased to hear that Mac’s don’t typically break up small files in the same way Windows does, and therefore defragmentation is rarely needed. However, if you feel it may still be needed, there are various third-party tools in the App Store which can do the job.
Finally, do remember that only hard drives need defragging, not SSD’s. If you have not upgraded your hard drive to an SSD, then this guide will explain the benefits: why you should upgrade to an SSD.
10. Have a Professional Check Your Computer
While you might not need to have your computer checked out by a professional every month, it’s worth considering as an option when more serious issues arise.
An IT support professional can take a good look at your computer and work out what it requires to help it run faster, protect it from viruses and keep it in good condition.
Here at Geeks On Wheels, we offer IT support in Brighton, IT Support in London as well as remote IT support across the whole of the UK. You can either arrange a suitable time to bring your machine to our London office. Or, we offer 30-minute and 60-minute sessions where we can fix your computer issues remotely.
As an award-winning company for best independent tech retailer of the year, you know that your computer is in safe hands. Call our team today on 0203 637 6370 for UK wide immediate support or for more information.