Maintaining your Windows PC

Modified on Fri, 21 Jul 2017 at 10:58 AM

Over time, you may notice that your computer isn’t running as smoothly or as quickly as it once did. There are many reasons why your computer’s performance may have declined with usage. Disorganized files, excessive software installs, unnecessary programs automatically run at start up – all these will eat up computer resources and significantly slow down its start up and processing time. Thankfully, there are basic maintenance tasks that a regular user can routinely perform to keep his/her computer running smoothly.

 Organize Your Files


Keeping all your documents in one folder is the first step to maintaining a tidy computer. Windows has a default folder in which to store your documents called Documents.  For an even safer solution, you can save your files directly to your OneDrive folder.

These simple precautions can save you time and energy in the event of a system failure -- an organized computer is much easier to backup than a computer that has its files scattered all over the hard drive, or if your files are saved to your OneDrive folder, you don't have to worry about the loss of your files.



Do Routine Backups


Get in the practice of doing frequent backups. This could make the difference between a computer failure being an annoying inconvenience or a catastrophic meltdown. Backing up your computer is a highly personal task, and one that only you can do with confidence -- no one but you knows which files are important and which are not. Suggestions for files that you will want to back up are: photos, email archives, bookmarks, personal projects (Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, etc), contacts, and purchased software and music. Programs do not need to be backed up. You can always back up your data to external media, such as an external hard drive or a flash drive, or also save your files into OneDrive.


Remove Temporary Files


Disk Cleanup is a Windows utility that calculates how much space can be recovered by deleting temporary files on your computer. After it is done assessing your hard drive, it will allow you to select which temporary files you want to delete. To run Disk Cleanup:


  1. Double-click the Computer icon or the This PC icon.
  2. Right-click the drive you want to clean (usually the C: drive) and select Properties.
  3. Select the General tab.  Press the Disk Cleanup button.
  4. When the scan is complete, you will be able to choose what files (if any) that you want to delete.  If you want to delete any of the files, check those files, and then press the OK button.  When the message pops up that says "Are you sure you want to permanently delete these files?", press the Delete Files button.
  5. Press the OK button to close the window when the cleanup has been done.


Remove Unwanted Startup Items


If your computer used to take 60 seconds to start up, but now takes 2 minutes to start up, it may be loading too many programs upon boot up. Sometimes, the programs that we install configure themselves to run when the computer is started. They can run in the background undetected and considerably delay the start up process of the computer, as well as consume needed resources while the computer is operating. If you find that an application is opening at start up, but you don't need it to do so, then go into the Options section of the application and choose to stop the program from opening at start up.


Download Windows Updates


Periodically, Microsoft releases updates which contain patches for security holes, bug fixes, and sometimes added features and drivers. In order to protect your computer and enhance its functionality, you can check to see if your computer is up-to-date with its updates.

1. Click on your Windows 10 icon.

2. Click on the Settings icon.

3. In the Window Settings window that pops up, click on Update & security.

4. Click on the Check for updates button. 

Update your Virus Definitions


Thousands of new computer viruses are discovered every year. Most of them are easy to identify and isolate, but only if you have updated your virus definitions in your antivirus software. The antivirus Lesley uses is Windows Defender.  Click here to find instructions on how to make sure your Windows updates and your antivirus definitions are up-to-date.

Reboot your Computer


Although this is by far the easiest task on the list, it’s one that is most often overlooked. Leaving the computer on for days eats up system resources that can only be restored when the computer is restarted. Shut down your computer whenever you anticipate you will be away from it for an extended period of time.

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