Here are some things you can do to help your computer stay healthy. Careful usage and routine maintenance of your computer system keep problems from developing, assure sustained peak performance, and make your computer last longer.
Keep Your Computer Clean
- Keep the area around your computer clean and dust-free. Computers have fans that draw air inside the case to cool the internal components of your computer. If your computer's environment is dusty, regularly vacuum the vents on the front, side, and rear of the computer.
- Avoid eating or drinking near your computer. Spilled drinks are the number one cause of malfunctioning keyboards. Food crumbs may get into the mouse and cause excessive wear and tear on the rollers, necessitating cleaning or replacement of the mouse.
- To avoid scratching or marring the surface, use only tissues and non-abrasive cleaning solutions (soap and water, glass cleaning solutions) to clean the monitor and case.
- Use a mouse pad as a tracking surface to reduce the amount of dirt and wear on your pointing device’s roller.
- Clean the CD-ROM read heads often, at least once a month. High speed CD-ROM drives require more frequent cleaning than older drives. Use a can of air once a month and a cleaning CD every few months.
Maintain Your Hard Disk
( also refered to as Hard Drive )
- Scandisk performs basic Hard Disk maintenance tasks and should be run frequently.
- For DOS / Windows 3.x, type "scandisk" at a C: prompt.
- For Windows 95/98 choose the “Start” button, then “Programs,” then “Accessories,” then “System Tools,” and finally “Scandisk.” Sometimes running Scandisk alone can solve problems with applications, such as “File Allocation Tables” (areas on the hard drive that contain data about where files are stored). File locations sometimes become confused with time and usage.
- Before running Scandisk, shut down all other applications. Choose standard settings and automatic error repair as the default, unless you suspect actual physical damage to your hard drive surface. The “thorough” option for Scandisk will check for this. If Scandisk's "thorough" option does find physical damage, back up your information as soon as possible, and call CompSolvers for an evaluation.
Organize and Unclutter Files
- Delete unused and / or temporary files. Delete old, unnecessary items. Old e-mail files and folders can clutter your computer, eating up valuable disk space. Deleting those files that you don't need will free up more space for important items that you access regularly.
- Pay particular attention to the items in your temporary file (the Windows file that temporarily saves website downloads and other data, also known as "cache"). You may not realize it, but "Temp File" data can fill up your hard drive very quickly - especially if you're a frequent Web surfer. To check your temporary file, open the "Windows" folder, then double-click on "Temp." Your temporary files will be listed. From there you can determine which files you can delete or keep. Also check the "Temporary Internet Files" folder for files to delete. When you're done, be sure to empty the Recycle Bin.
- Run “Disk Defragmenter” occasionally after running Scandisk and cleaning up your drive. Defrag rearranges file storage as files and empty spaces become scattered across the drive over time. Running Defrag regularly helps avoid lost files and clusters by putting files back together (making them contiguous) on the hard drive. This can speed operating performance. You can choose this option by clicking on your “Start” button, then “Programs,” then “Accessories,” then “System Tools,” then “Disk Defragmenter.” The defragmentation occurs faster if you don’t choose the “Show Details” option. For Windows NT you need to purchase third-party software to perform disk defragmentation. DOS users can type "defrag" at a C: prompt.
- Purchase and regularly run a well-supported virus-checking program. McAfee Associates or Norton Anti-Virus programs are two of the most popular. They are updated regularly, and you can obtain the updates directly via modem and the internet. If you are in the habit of using application or game demo programs borrowed from others, checking and deleting viruses from your system should become a regular routine.
Power Surge Protection
- Make sure your power source is secure and stable. Inexpensive surge protector devices, built into power strips and socket adapters, are available. These devices should be sufficient if your power appears to be both stable and dependable.
- More expensive and thorough line conditioning can be attained through use of a higher quality unit from name brand manufacturers such as Tripp-Lite or American Power Conversion. These units include protection from larger surges and other line noise and difficulties. If your power source subjects your appliances to brown outs or power outages, then a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) may be in order.
- Lightning storms (especially in our area!) or power cables crossing with telephone lines can bring a powerful and highly damaging power surge into your computer via the phone line. For this reason, it is recommended that you purchase a Surge Protector or UPS with Telephone Protection.
- During a lightning storm, if you do not have a surge protector, unplug all power and telephone cords attached to your computer from the wall. Consider doing so even if you have a surge protector. Of course, you can only do this if you are home.
- Investing in a Surge Protector and/or UPS will help protect your computer while you are away.
Back Up Registry Files
- Back up your Windows 98 Registry files often. Registry Files contain all information about your computer hardware and software settings. Failure to shut down Windows 95/98 thoroughly before turning off your computer or contracting a virus can lead to a corrupted registry. If your registry is corrupted, you may have to either completely reinstall the operating system or just the registry.
- You can backup the Windows 98 registry by clicking on the "Start" button, choosing “Run,” and entering “scanregw” in the blank provided (without the quotation marks). Restore has to be done by restarting your computer in DOS mode then entering “scanreg/restore” at the prompt (again without the quotation marks) and pressing “Enter.” You are then given directions and options to restore the registry from the latest backups.
- Windows 95 users can reboot into MS-DOS mode and copy the files "system.dat" and "user.dat" from the Windows directory to a floppy disk.
- Windows NT users should use the RDISK utility.
Back Up Data Files
- Ideally, (and especially if your computer is used for business purposes), keep two sets of back ups: one on site and one off. How often these archives are created depends on the frequency of use. CD-RW drives and Zip Drives are quite popular as back-up devices. The old standard of a Tape Backup is still in use for large amounts of information.
- For personal documents and financial information (such as an accounting package), you can use the Backup utility within the “System Tools” group off of the “Accessories” group of Windows 95/98 to backup your information to a floppy disk.