Trails End Computer Club
Lesson 5 - - - Computer Maintenance
Over time the contents of your hard disk will contain harmful information even if you have a perfect anti virus. The best of all the anti virus protection programs may be far short of catching and preventing all possible infections.
Your computer will slow down over time without any outside infections and can come to a point that nothing will truly fix it short of reinstalling Windows. That is where a good backup comes in.
If you created an image backup of your hard drive soon after you purchased it, you could use that image to restore your hard drive to the state it was in when the image was made. It would include all software including the operating system and all your data saved at the time the image was taken..
After restoring the image on your computer, it will operate as it did when new. All you need is a current backup of all your data and installing any new programs you have added since the original image was made and all the Windows Updates issued after your image was made.
You may have to keep this image 4 years or more untill you need it.
Often it is possible to buy a second hard disk and make an image backup to it. This second hard drive could replace the hard drive in your computer and be ready to go.
OTHER THAN IMAGE BACKUP
Be prepared to re-install Windows or upgrade to a newer operating system. If the hardware in your computer is operating fine, the upgrade may be in order if your older computer will support the newer operating system.
We also may get tired of the old and want the new. This happens with cars, furniture, appliances etc.
DOWN THE ROAD
Regardless of what you choose, your data, photos, music, and everything you saved on your computer must be backed up on a regular basis if you don't want to lose that data later.
CAN A POORLY OPERATING COMPUTER BE SAVED WITHOUT REINSTALLING EVERYTHING
Even during normal computer operations the hard drive fills up with unwanted files and records. Many programs may be purchased or used at no cost claiming to clean up and speed up your computer. It is difficult to determine the results prior to using them. We have all been warned about fraudulent software and we may run across some software that is highly recommended by knowledgeable people.
Defragmentation has been a standard practice for many years. To defrag is a process to put records on your hard drive in an orderly fashion. One record may be a photograph that would not fit in the space where it started and continued on to another space on your drive. Defraging finds space to put each record in one steady stream of data.
It is a highly complex operation that has developed over the years that works fine. It may take a lot of processing power and may take quite a bit of time to finish if you have not defraged in a while. Windows 7 & 8 is configured from the factory to do the defraging automatically during idle times in the background without you being aware it is going on. With the file systems we use now (NTFS), far less attention is needed. With the solid state drives now becoming available and may soon be standard, no defraging is recommended.
Ten years ago you could get recommendations to defrag every week.
Disk Cleanup Part of your Windows system will empty selected files that will not damage your system but may eliminate some useful features you may have become accustomed to. It will list items that may be removed and allow you to select what to be removed. It lists the amount of space possible to be removed and the amount of space you have selected to be removed. I feel it should be used sparingly.
Windows Registry is a sizable file filled with non-English code that over years get larger and larger. It is so complex that I do not trust any software to clean it up although there are knowledgeable people that recommend a registry cleaner. There is even a Registry Editor built into your Windows operating system that may allow you to make your computer inoperative.
Dust accumulates inside your computer much like dust accumulates inside your sweeper bag. There may be 1 to 3 fans drawing air into your computer carrying dust particles that will accumulate throughout the interior. There also could be 1 or 2 fans blowing directly on components to cool them. Dust collecting on fan blades reduces the efficiency of the blades and dust collecting on heat sinks may block most of the circulation. Heat building up on many components will cause malfunctions or damage to the component. Fan motors can also fail causing overheating. The newest computers draw far less power and therefore give off less heat.
SOFTWARE UPDATES Windows operating systems require the weekly updates to maintain security, add features, correct errors and updates. You may set your system to do this automatically. It can download the updates and install them when you shutdown next or allow you to select when to download or install. It is important that this be done. It is up to you to decide what will best work for you.
Other software updates and drivers for your programs you installed, printer, scanner and many components within your computer you may want to also update. Often with downloaded software you may uninstall then download and install the updated software where sometimes you may just download and install updated software.
TECC, Harold Buechly, updated 2/2/14