upon a time, your computer was brand new. It started up perfectly, ran
your software without errors and it had never even seen the internet.
However, over time things started to slow down. As you visited websites
and installed software, something had a negative effect on your
computer’s performance. Your local Computer Troubleshooter can ‘clean’
things up, but what happens when you get your computer back again? Is
it just a matter of time before another service is needed?
Fortunately there are some things that you can do. Below are our ‘Top Ten Tips’ for looking after your computer:
- Use a ‘firewall’: A firewall allows you to prevent access from the internet to certain
areas of your computer. This increases your level of security and makes it
harder for ‘hackers’ to get to your information. Firewall protection is
provided by special software on your computer, or your network hardware (e.g.,
your broadband internet modem may have an inbuilt firewall capability). A
firewall is essential for anyone with high speed internet access.
- Use up-to-date anti-virus
software that works:
Anti-virus software is essential for any computer that reads information from
another source (including emails, websites and files on USB sticks). To be
effective, your anti-virus software must be working and it must be updated with
the latest information from the manufacturer – they regularly send out updates
telling your system what new viruses to look out for. Check with your
anti-virus software maker, as you may need to pay a subscription fee to entitle
you to the updates.
- Use anti-spyware/anti-adware software: Spyware and adware programs will slow down your
computer, running ‘in the background’ without your knowledge and they will not
be picked up by your anti-virus software. Anti-spyware/anti-adware software
must also be kept up to date, but those scans do not examine each file as it is
used on your computer. Run your anti-spyware and anti-adware scans on a regular
basis, or see if you can schedule them to start automatically at a certain time
- Apply new ‘Windows Updates’: As it becomes aware of them, Microsoft releases updates and
patches to fix security problems. Find the ‘Windows Update’ icon or visit
http://update.microsoft.com to check if there are any new updates that your
computer needs. If you have Windows XP with Service Pack 2, this can be
automated in ‘Control Panel’ – ‘Security Center’.
- Backup your information & test your backups:
Make sure that your important files are being copied somewhere else on a regular
basis (e.g., onto CD, tape or using online backup solution). Your computer can
fail at any time, and you could lose everything! Make the time now to check
that you can actually read those files from your backup copy.
- Cleanup your disk: As you perform tasks on your computer (like browsing the internet), a
trail of ‘temporary’ files are left behind, so your computer can access
your information faster the second time around. Unfortunately, these
are often not cleaned up again and the pile of temporary files grows
bigger, taking up valuable space on your hard disk. The easy way to
delete these (without deleting something important by mistake) is with
Microsoft’s Disk Cleanup program. In Windows XP you can find it under
Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup. We
recommend you run this once a month.
Defragment your disk: How does your paper filing cabinet look? Is everything
logically stored and labeled, or it is messy, with documents stuffed in
wherever you could find room? You’d agree that it’s much quicker to
retrieve documents from a tidy filing cabinet. The physical storage of
files on your computer can get messy too, slowing down the time it takes
to open them. Microsoft’s Disk Defragmenter program literally tidies up
the ‘fragments’ of your files, much like tidying your filing cabinet.
In Windows XP you can find it under Start > All Programs > Accessories >
System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. We recommend you run this once a
month too, after your Disk Cleanup.
- Remove and
A serious, hidden danger lurks in the room with your computer – dust.
Just like a blanket, even a thin layer of dust inside your computer
causes heat to build up which can cause permanent damage to your
computer’s vital internal components.
Do not place
your computer directly onto carpet - it will suck up carpet fibres and
dust. Check the outside of your computer case and brush off any dust
from the fan grills (with your computer turned off!). If they are
looking particularly dirty, call your local Computer Troubleshooter –
they can clean the dust from the components inside your case too.
- Upgrade your hardware: As technology advances, new software programs require more
computing power. Asking your old computer to perform new tricks could
place too much strain on it. You may have an option to upgrade
individual components rather than buy a whole new computer. Consider
upgrading your computer’s memory, hard disk or processor to speed things
up and handle your new software. Your local Computer Troubleshooter can
advise if this is a cost-effective option for you.
little problems before they become big ones:
If you notice a minor problem with your computer, call your local
Computer Troubleshooter. It can be significantly more cost-effective to
fix a minor problem straight away, than waiting for it to compound and
then require major work. Keep a log book to record the details of any
problems, including what you were doing at the time and the exact
wording of error messages. This can help speed-up our troubleshooting
process, as we follow your trail of ‘clues’ to help us determine the
source of the problem.
Contact us about
how we can put these
and other tips into action for you.