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Computer Help for Dummies: Your Routine Maintenance

written by: KateG•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/3/2008

Keeping your computer in good shape is a great way to protect your investment. This article will show you how to do just that.

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    One of the best things that you can do to help out your computer and contribute to its general health, safety and well being is to maintain it properly. A computer without the proper maintenance is a lot like a car without proper maintenance. Sure, it will run, but it will not run as efficiently as it could be and eventually it will break down on you. It may not be tomorrow, but eventually the system will have a problem if you do not maintain it. It may be a dramatic death or it could be a slow and lingering death of rebooting and ambiguous error codes. Neither one is really a pretty scenario, and both of them will leave you at a loss for your investment.

    I know, you may not think about your machine as an investment, but it is, and depending on how much you spent it could be an expensive one.

    So how will we be protecting your machine from falling prey to the evils of the possible devastating and long term damage to your system? Well, it is going to be a series of small things you can do to both maintain and protect the computer.

    Step One: Clean it out

    In order for your machine to run at its peak efficiency you will need to clean it out. Now, I could show you how to do this in a long and drown out painful step by step process. Some of those steps will include things such as:

    • Cleaning out your system caches.
    • Emptying out your trash.
    • Checking for unused file extensions.

    Doing all of these things without a piece of software can do done but it is much easier and more efficient to use software. The one that I am recommending is called CCleaner. You don’t have to pay for the full version: the free version will get the job done. Using the software is pretty self explanatory. Most of the tabs are one or two buttons to operate and everything is clearly labeled.

    Step Two: Delete your unused files.

    You should get rid of the unused files that you have on your machine. You can get rid of your unused video files, photographs and images or even old documents. If you are not 100 percent comfortable with simply deleting your files then you can back them up onto an external hard drive, a USB drive or even burn them to a CD.

    Step Three: Update your virus scan software definition files.

    This is usually the easiest thing to do because your virus software wants to update regularly. When it asks you to, just say yes.

    If for some reason you do not have virus protection software then you should get some ASAP. If you can not afford to buy commercial software, you can use ClamWin or AVG. They are both free and will do the job well.

    As for the clean outs and file deletions, do that monthly.