I don’t advertise this all that much but I do minor computer repairs, mainly for people I know, friends of people I know, and of course the neighborhood. It’s not the core of my business or even close, but the little chunk of change here and there doesn’t hurt.
For the most part I can drill down to 5 things that, if people took care of them, would solve 95% of any potential problems that might come their way. I think they’re fairly simple anyway, but if you don’t, it wouldn’t hurt you to have someone do some simple maintenance on your computer here and there to check some of these things for you.
1. Use an antivirus program and then update it from time to time. I shouldn’t have to tell anyone in this day and age how important it is to have an antivirus program, yet I still work on a lot of computers that are missing that essential piece of software; that and malware protection. There are free and paid versions, and depending on how little you know about surfing the web and what “not” to click on should determine what you get; some of these programs also offer malware and spyware protection.
Most antivirus programs have a choice for you to allow them to automatically update, which you probably should select, but first you have to look at the program and find it, which most people don’t do. Most people also don’t go in and set a time for the computer to automatically scan their computers; do that as well.
2. Use a firewall of some sort and update it from time to time. What firewalls do is hide your computer from those folks who might have somehow slipped a virus onto your computer and are now trying to activate it. I don’t want to get too technical, but in essence it cloaks the access you have to the internet and makes whatever the virus folks are sending out miss you.
Of course it protects you from other things as well, such as programs trying to load that you aren’t intentionally trying to load. Updating firewall programs takes just a little more work than updating antivirus, but if you’re on Windows you can think about using their firewall program, which will update itself with no problems.
3. Clean stuff out of your hard drive from time to time. Okay, this one’s going to take some instructions, and it’s geared towards computers using Windows, but Apple computers probably have some similar things.
The first thing you want to do is check your computer to get rid of things that are automatically loading every time you boot your computer that you don’t need booting up then. All that stuff slows down your boot speed and can use up resources on your computer that you could be using for other things.
What you do is click on the Windows button, and in the box that says “Search programs and files” type in “msconfig” without the quotation marks and hit enter. When it comes up click on it and a menu will open. Click on the tab that says Startup.
Everything that’s checked loads up when you boot up your computer. You need to keep things such as your antivirus and firewall programs, and at some point there might be a couple other programs you’d like loaded up when your computer starts. But uncheck everything else, which might be your iPod program, Quicktime, any instant messaging programs, any Adobe programs, and other stuff you might use every once in awhile but not every time you’re on your computer. Once you’re done hit the Okay button; it might ask you if you want to reboot your computer and you will, but not just yet; this is step one.
Step two is to get rid of a bunch of temporary files that you don’t need. Everyone ends up with temporary files on their computer. Almost every time you load a new program it leaves some temporary files. If you opened up something specific on the web and didn’t save it to a specific folder on your computer it’s possible that it’s been captured in your temporary folder.
What you do is right click on your Windows button and left click on Open Windows Explorer. Once that’s open, which will be a large menu, you’ll want to come down to where it says Users. Click the arrow to the left of Users and it’ll show you a bunch of other folders; the one you want will be the one that “doesn’t” say Administrator, All Users, Default, Default User or Public. Some of those you might not be able to open anyway. Whichever folder is left is the one you want; it could be named anything, which is why I told you which ones to ignore.
Click on the arrow to the left of that folder and you’ll see a bunch of other folders once again. Click on the arrow to the left of the one called App Data. Then click on the arrow to the left of the one called Local.
Again you’ll see a bunch of folders, but scroll down to the one called Temp. Click on that folder and you’ll see a bunch of files, possibly some folders in there. Click one file in that area to the right just once, then hold down on the Ctrl button at the bottom left of your keyboard and push the letter A. It will highlight everything in the right side area.
Make sure it’s everything in the “right” side and not the left side, otherwise you’ll be trying to delete everything on your hard drive. If everything you see to the right is highlighted, hit your delete button. It will get rid of everything that your computer isn’t presently using. It will be using a few files in there and it’ll ask you what to do; just click the little box that says “Do this for all current items” and push the Skip button.
Once you’ve done that close the Explorer window and go to your recycle bin. If you want you can look in there to see everything you’re getting rid of. Then empty your recycle bin, and once you’ve done that close it back up and now reboot your computer. It should be running much faster because it’s not loading up as much stuff, and if you’ve never cleared anything out of your temp folder you’ll have much more space, and if your computer is older you’ll probably notice a little more speed as well.
4. Vacuum any air spaces on your physical computer. If you’ve never done it you’ll notice all this dust and junk around the air holes on your computer. You don’t want any of that stuff getting into your computer and gumming up the works, and you also want to keep it clean so the fan in your computer can keep everything cool.
5. Listen. Every computer has its own sound, or lack thereof, and we all get used to it. If you hear anything out of the ordinary it possibly means you have a potential problem coming. It’s best to be proactive and take some maintenance steps so you don’t lose everything on your computer. You might have to call someone if you don’t have the knowledge of what to do, but get it taken care of as soon as possible. Just because the noise might stop doesn’t mean everything’s fine.
There you go; those 5 steps will help you a lot.