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March 5, 2009

The Happy Computer Checklist

Computers are great tools and awesome toys. They do the work of thousands of people, allow you access to more information than anyimages single person could ever need and let you play awesome games. And after all this, many people still treat them like crap, and its time we put a stop to it. A happy computer, is a great computer, and a computer you will love to use.

The key to a happy computer is maintenance! you clean up your house, you clean your car, you clean you favorite sun glasses, why wouldn't you clean your computer?

To keep your computer running like a champ, I recommend the following:

 

  • Anti-virus software - This is a must. AV software comes in all shapes and sizes, and in all price ranges, find one that fits your needs and get it. I use the free version of AVG on my home computer, and my company manages over 1200 desktops and servers that use the paid for version. The software is clean and easy to use.
  • Updates - Many updates that are released resolve bugs found in software. Bugs in software usually mean less efficient software, so keeping all of your software and hardware drivers up to date, will help keep your computer running smoothly. To update Microsoft products, you can use the built in update tool, most other software also comes with an update tool, but if they don't, just check the manufactures website from time to time.
  • Elbow Grease - Once every few months, it is a good idea to look at what you have on your computer and get rid of what you don't need. Uninstall software you don't use, archive documents or photos you don't really access anymore to an external drive or DVD. This will keep hard drive space free, and that means faster responses when your computer is looking for other data.
  • General Clean Up Tool -  With everyday use, computers are bound to get tons of files that really aren't needed. Temp files from viewing websites, residual files from software that you uninstalled, and numerous other things. And while Windows comes with tools built in to get rid of them, there are better solutions out there. I like to use a tool called CCleaner. CCleaner will remove all of the junk that gets on your computer during day to day use, and it will do it in a easy to use way. And best of all? IT IS FREE. I like to run a tool like ccleaner about once a month, you can do it more frequently, but once a month is what I find to be a good balance.
  • Disk Defragmenter - When you save data to a hard drive, it will search for the first open space available to write that data. As you write more and delete more, the free space becomes scattered around (fragmented). When drives become fragmented, your computer starts running slower because it takes the computer longer to find what it is looking for. Windows comes with a disk defragmenter tool, and it will get the job done. For more advanced users, you can use a tool like Defraggler (free and made by the same people as CCleaner). You should run disk defragmenter each time you do any major clean up (like running ccleaner or manual clean ups like the ones listed above)

If you do these things, your computer will be happy for a long time. I've seen way too many people throw out perfectly good computers because they were "running slow" and had they followed the above, they could have saved themselves some money.

And as an added bonus, doing the above also helps keep your computer secure!

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