A little simple maintenance now can help prevent many headaches throughout the year. Regular maintenance is the key to creating a safe, secure, productive environment, protecting your technology, and getting your greatest return on your investment. This is a customized list of tasks for monthly, quarterly, and yearly maintenance that everyone should minimally perform.
1. Remove the Junk
At a minimum, run Disk Cleanup: You’ll find this utility on the Start Menu submenu: Start > (All) Programs > Accessories > System Tools. With less junk files on your computer you will gain back valuable disk space and your computer will run quicker as well.
2. Patch And Update
Start with Windows Update, and ensure that your operating system is fully up to date with all necessary patches, fixes, and updates. Do likewise for all your software, especially your antivirus, antispyware, and other security tools, visiting the vendor sites to download any and all updates and patches for your applications and utilities. Finally, check your hardware vendors’ Web sites for driver and other updates for your video card, audio system, motherboard components, etc.
The end of the year is a great time to reorganize the files and folders on your hard drive. Some users like to organize first by topics, then by chronology; others do it the other way, first by year, then by topic.
The organizing principle doesn’t matter as long as you end up with an organized “tree” of data files that you can traverse with ease to locate whatever files you may later need. You want to avoid the too-common syndrome where every data file on the PC ends up in an undifferentiated mass in “My Documents” or in similar, uselessly cluttered, generic folders.
While you’re reorganizing your hard drive, keep an eye out for files and software that you no longer use or need. These can be moved to long-term storage (via backup; or perhaps by moving to an unused disk or partition) or you can simply delete/uninstall them from your system.
Removing unused files and software saves space, avoids clutter, and can actually improve system speed and responsiveness. For example, keeping large numbers of unneeded files on the system can bog down searches and slow the indexing of the rest of the drive’s contents. Carrying unneeded software clutters the Registry and may delay system startup and shut down as unnecessary components are loaded or unloaded.
Once your hard drive is as organized, cleaned, and simplified as you can make it, reorder the files for fastest access, and to make most-efficient use of the disk space. This “defragmentation” of the system’s files is best done on a regular basis, but at the very least should be done after a major cleanup. You’ll find this utility on the Start Menu submenu: Start > (All) Programs > Accessories > System Tools.
Having come this far, you should backup your files in your newly organized file structure with an external USB hard drive such as the Seagate FreeAgent. You can also use the built-in backup program that comes with your operating system. This can be invoked through the menus, or by typing “backup” on the Run line.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow preserve your PC’s current lean, clean, fully-updated and defragged setup so that, should you ever need to in the future, you can restore your PC to its current perfected state in just minutes? Try a disk cloning product such as Acronis Backup & Recovery.