Computer Maintenance (or How Do I Keep Things Running Smoothly?)

By | January 18, 2016

All machines require maintenance and you computing device is a machine.  If our car/truck/Vespa needs maintenance, we either DIY, or take it to a mechanic.  However, when our computer needs repairs, we buy a new one.

The purpose of this article is to give a guide of minimal tasks that you should perform on your Microsoft Computing device and a suggested schedule of execution.

  • Microsoft Updates
    • Should be set to auto-update, and computer (not monitor) should be left on all the time.  Otherwise, when you go to use it, the system will act very slowly because it is trying to install updates that you have delayed 3 months ago.
    • Find out how to trigger updates on you system and make it the first thing you do when you sit in front of the computer.  Microsoft is notorious for placing critical updates in the "Optional" category and not only will they not automatically install, but sometimes, they will block the installation of other updates.
  • Third Party Updates
    • Find out how to get updates for the software that you use.  I have found that many times the update link will be in the "Help" menu item or a menu item of it's own.  In other cases, you must update the software directly from the producer of the program.  (Warning:  ONLY DOWNLOAD PATCHES FROM THE SOFTWARE PRODUCER, not filehippo, download.com or anyone else.  You are begging to get hacked if you do.)
    • You should check for updates about once a month for these 3rd-party software.
    • Many auto-check for updates.  If this is an option, select it.  Firefox, Chrome and others do this as default.
  • Anti-Virus
    • Install a reputable anti-virus product.  There are many.  If you aren't sure which one is right for you, using your favorite search engine, search for the name of the anti-virus program or suite with the keyword review.  Do a little reading and choose wisely.
    • Microsoft Windows 10 includes built-in AV protection.  It is my personal choice, along with SuperAntiSpyware, MalewareBytes Anti-Malware and Piriform's CCleaner (for general tools.)
    • Once installed, it should auto-update.  If your AV doesn't have this feature, remove it and get another product.
    • Execute a full-system scan about every 2 weeks to once a month.  More if you travel to disreputable sites (gaming, adult, free-download sites, etc)
  • Anti-Spy-/Mal/Ransome-ware
    • I like to run two of these.  Set them to auto-update.  Run a full system scan on the weekends you don't run an AV scan (unless you think you are infected, then run them all.)
  • Registry Repair
    • CCleaner from Piriform has an excellent registry cleaner.  Run it after an AV or Malware scan to clean up the junk left behind by the removal of the "baddies."
  • Defragging
    • The court is out on this one.  It should be auto-scheduled and it will execute on its own.  Many say with modern OS and filesystems, a defrag is no longer necessary.  Still, I run this about once every six months or after I add or remove software from my system.

On Windows 10, I have noticed that the large updates that occur every 6 months or so (they are called "Feature Updates") usually fail.  This jams up the process.  Remediation is basically downloading the update from Microsoft manually and manually running it on your computer.  This is out-of-scope for this article.  I'm working on another article which will address this.  One final note is that every break-fix I have every had to help with on Windows 10 has been due to failed updates.