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January 22, 2009

Tips to Help Keep Your Computer Clean & Running Smoothly

Every one of us has had one of those days when we feel like tossing (to put it nicely) our computers out the window. From slow programs to complete freeze-up, we each have issues with our computers that can be preventable by being cautious and performing a little computer maintenance.

Be Cautious

1. First and foremost.... BACK-UP, BACK-UP, BACK-UP!!!
We have all heard someone else's horror stories (or even our own) of not having backups when needed but it is still surprising how many people do not back up their data on a regular basis.

2. Anti-Virus Software
This is imperative for any and every computer, whether or not it is used for online work.

3. Anti-Spam Software
Again, in this day and age, having a spam filter on your computer is a necessity (unless you enjoy reading about those "performance enhancing drugs" or other products that will "make our lives better"...NOT).

4. Never reply to spam or phishing emails
One thing to keep in mind with spam, NEVER reply to it. We all hate spam and wish we could send them back a note telling them exactly what we think of them but they could care less what you have to say. They are hoping you will reply.

5. Spyware software
Unfortunately there are people out there who use their intelligence to create malicious files and software rather than for good and thus we are inundated with spyware that infiltrates our computers and can cause all kinds of nasty things to happen.

6. Firewall
A firewall is another form of security for your computer to prevent outside intruders from accessing your computer. It monitors and restricts information that travels between your computer and a network or the Internet and even alerts you of security concerns.

7. Disable pop-ups on websites
Many websites have pop-ups that help to point out any important information that they want to be sure you see. However, some websites will have pop-up after pop-up that are just annoying or placing cookies on your computer that can record your movements online. It is best to have your pop-up blocker on and then shut it off if there is a trusted site that you want to see what is on their pop-ups.

8. Attach a battery backup to your computer

9. Power surge protection

10. Anti-Static mat

11. Keep a record of your installed software

12. Be Cautious when downloading from unfamiliar sites

13. Avoid pirated software

Internal Maintenance

The following are just some basic things to keep in mind to maintain a healthy computer that I have learned over the years and "usually follow".

1. Keep your email folders clean
It is surprising how many people have email folders, especially the Inbox, that are overrun with emails. Once you have dealt with an email, either delete it or put it into a designated folder.

2. Perform regular disk clean ups
Depending how often you do this and how much unneeded files there are, this process could take several minutes. It should be added to your regular maintenance routine.

3. Defragment your hard drive
If you do a lot of downloading, installing, uninstalling and moving of files, folders and programs, an occasional Defragmentation may be needed.

4. Scan Disk
This feature will fix any bad sectors on your hard drive and may be necessary if your computer appears to be acting up.

5. Keep your computer's Registry clean
For every program you work with, every download and uninstall... everything you do on your computer somehow affects your registry. Having a registry cleaner on your computer can help keep your computer's registry running smoothly.

6. Update Windows

7. Keep your software up to date

8. Keep your start up programs to a minimum

9. Keep desktop icons to a minimum as well

External Maintenance

One of the last things on the mind of most computer owners is that a computer can get dirty... physically... and needs to be cleaned. Dust and other environmental factors can also affect the performance of your computer.

Before turning off your computer,

1. Clean your CD/DVD ROM drives

Now you can turn your computer off and clean your...

2. Floppy Drive

3. Keyboard

4. Monitor

5. Mouse

6. Printer

7. Scanner

8. Tower Case

Most computer issues are usually not all that dangerous but they need to be dealt with in order to keep our computers running smoothly and avoid problems escalating. The information above is just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about each point listed, pick up a copy of our ebook, Tips for Keeping Your Computer Clean & Running Smoothly.