You can find computers in an array of shapes and sizes, with each configuration designed to keep us connected to the digital world. Whether you use your assortment of devices for leisure or work, keeping them in the best possible condition is very important. Whether it’s just a cosmetic touch-up or operational maintenance, a computer that is properly maintained is one that looks great, lasts long and always works as it should.
When you keep your system in the best possible condition, you essentially extend its life, both externally and internally. An overheating processor, an error-prone operating system and a fast-depleting battery are all avoidable computer issues, if you just take the time to properly maintain your rig. So let’s go through 6 maintenance tips that can only be described as essential. So if you want your PC to last longer and run faster, follow the tips below:
Table of Contents
Clean Dust from Your System
One thing computers are very efficient at, is collecting dust. Aside from it making your system look bad, and possibly giving you allergies, a dusty computer can also trap heat, which will decrease system performance and its life span. The most effective way of cleaning your system is by using compressed air, just open up the system case, then use the compressed air to blow all the dust out of it. The exterior of the computer case can be easily cleaned using a damp cloth. Refrain from using any household cleaners, as they are typically not designed for computer circuitry and could end up destroying your system. For the vast majority of computers, you may need to clean it at least once every year or every 18 months, at the most.
In addition to cleaning out the dust, there are other things for you to consider. These are that the dust, usually builds up in the video card and CPU heatsink, so you may want to consider dissembling both, so that you can clean them – but only if you’re comfortable doing that. At the very least you could just use the compressed air to blow it out. While the system case is open, you may also want to turn on your system, just so you can check that all the fans inside the case are still spinning. Replace any broken or noisy fans. If you see any dirt or sticky residue on your motherboard, you can often clean it using a cotton swab, ideally dipped in alcohol cleaning solution, which you can purchase at any computer store. Just be sure to unplug the system before you do any cleaning. If you don’t feel comfortable working on the system, or feel that the overheating issues are beyond your capabilities to manage, then you can always seek the help of a qualified professional.
Keep Your System Cool
Avoid soft surfaces, like a bed, as such surfaces prevent proper air flow, which may cause your system to overheat. Make sure you always position your computer on a cool and hard surface. If you have a basement that is cool, then you should positon your system there. You may also want to buy additional cooling fans or pads, just to prevent any overheating.
Update Your OS
If you would like the most basic of computer maintenance help, then keeping your operating system up-to-date with the latest patches, is one of the easiest solutions. Regardless of whether the system is Mac, Windows or Linux based, keeping it up-to-date with the latest patches, as and when they are made available, will ensure your system is able to function at its max potential.
Windows 10 is designed to constantly check for updates, usually at a rate of once per day. This scan usually takes place in the background, without your knowledge, and will usually notify you, when it finds something. The primary objective of these updates is to optimise your systems performance, so when Windows presents a new update to you, you should download and install it.
One thing to keep in mind is that not all updates are made equally. Some take longer than others to complete. So you may want to set aside some time when you’re not on the computer, so that the process can go ahead quickly, and without causing any disruption to you.
Clean the Keyboard
It can be quite surprising when you see just how much dirt lives underneath the keys of your average keyboard. It can be anything from dog hairs to food crumbs, just as long as it’s small enough to fit within the keys. All these particles, over time are capable of clogging up the keyboard. The end result is a keyboard that is sticky, with one or more of its buttons being difficult to press.
The most effective way to clean the dirt from the keyboard of your desktop or laptop system is to use compressed air (just like cleaning the case). You can purchase compressed air from your local hardware or computer store.
Organise your Install Discs
Make sure your drivers, peripheral and software discs are all stored in one location, ideally next to the system itself. You could use a small cabinet or a shoebox. Make sure you have them on hand, when attempting to carry out any repairs or maintenance work, as you never know what may happen while working on your system, and it’s common for people to not know what they need, until they actually need it.
Update Your Passwords
Keeping your passwords up to date is just as important as backing up your most confidential data. Reports based on previous data breaches has found that over 80% of all hacking-related breaches were caused by the theft of stolen and/or weak passwords. Poor password practice is basically when an end user uses the same password for every one of their accounts, or when they use a password that can be easily guessed, like “123455” or “password”.
When we look at computer maintenance, one of the most important components of it is protecting your system from cybercriminals. All security systems have flaws that can be exploited. This is a reality that more and more consumers are realising by the day.
If you haven’t updated any of your passwords in a long while, then you may want to try using these password creation tips below:
- Use no less than 20 characters.
- Make sure it combines both lower and uppercase letters.
- Use special characters and numbers.
- If possible add emoticons (not all services support this, however).
When you have a strong password, you essentially safeguard your data from any would be computer hacker, which is why updating your passwords is one of the more important aspects of computer maintenances.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website