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Take Care of Your PC

There’s not that much to taking care of a Windows PC:

  • The C: drive of any PC should be checked once a month. You use the chkdsk program to do that. Any other drives can be checked every 90 days. Failure to do this is one of the primary causes of data loss in PCs.
  • Every 90 days or so, run the Disk Cleanup tool, which is in Accessories / System Tools. Have it get rid of temp files and anything else that you find unnecessary. Do not let it compress files; this just slows things down. Your PC will run faster for it.
  • Don’t install software you don’t need. It just slows things down. Similarly, you can speed things up by uninstalling software you don’t need or no longer use.
  • Don’t run P2P software like LimeWire. You will get viruses. Some of the people who populate the file databases put viruses in them as a way of spreading them. Be forewarned.
  • Don’t run software that purports to fix your registry or tune up your computer. The registry should be left alone, and you can do a tune-up yourself.
  • Don’t click on banners on the internet or in spam emails. If you like Acme’s products, get a browser and manually point it at acme.com. Or, use a search engine to find Acme’s site.
  • Don’t visit dodgy websites. If you are trying to get stuff for free that you should be paying for, that’s probably a dodgy place to be.
  • Keep your computer patched. That means running Windows Update regularly, and installing at least the “important” updates. This helps with drive-by downloads, should you ignore the warning about dodgy sites.
  • You must, of course, run antivirus software and keep it up to date. All of the major paid alternatives work well; among the free choices, we like AVG. You should be able to find the free version here.
  • You must also run anti-spyware software, and here there is really no choice. The only one to get is called SpyBot Search & Destroy. You can get it at safer-networking.org. It’s free. Be sure to “immunize” your system. Also, allow SpyBot to configure your browsers to reject 3rd-party cookies.
  • If you are running Vista or later, you will want to make sure you’re configured to defrag the hard drive periodically. If you’re still running XP, we like MyDefrag for the purpose.
  • You will want to clear your browser caches every once in a while. Instructions vary by browser, but it’s not hard.
  • Should you start getting popups, use Spybot to do a system scan. Be sure to run it “as Administrator.” If SpyBot can’t fix the popups, the thing to do is either reset the browser (Internet Explorer) or uninstall and reinstall it (other browsers).

Should these methods fail you, we’re available.

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