The most common problem that most PC users find is that of locating the malfunctions related to software or hardware. And then fixing them up. But most of us don't realize why such problems crop up in the first place. The answer is simple: we don't tune up our machines on the regular basis.
Even if your hardware and software is state-of-the-art, you may still require to perform some regular maintenance task to keep everything running smoothly. However, you can minimize maintenance by following the step listed below:.
Maintain a computer notebook
Keep a notebook that works as a single source of information about your computer system - both hardware and software. Every time you make some changes to your computer, such as adding or removing hardware or software or altering computer parameters, record the change in your notebook. Include the following items in your notebook.
• Vendor support numbers from your user manuals
• Serial numbers of all equipment and software
• User IDs and passwords (be careful here!)
• Vendor and date of purchase for all software and equipment
• Trouble log that provides a chronological history of equipment or software problems
• Notes on any discussion with vendor support personnel
Keep the dust away
Before you open your machine to clean the inside, turn off the power and disconnect the equipment from the power source. Working inside your computer with the power on can affect both you and your computer adversely. Computer parts are very sensitive to electrostatic charge that is generated, for instance, by rubbing of clothes with our body, or combing of the hair. So before you touch anything inside the computer, you should get rid of you body charge by touching an unpainted metal surface such as the power supply. This will discharge any static electricity that could damage internal components.
Keep the area surrounding your computer dirt and dust free. Reducing the dirt and dust around your computer will reduce the need to clean the inside of your computer. If dust builds up inside the computer, remove it carefully with compressed air and a small vacuum. Do not touch the components with the vacuum.
Back up important files and data
Use the operating system or utility program to create an emergency or rescue disk to help you restart your computer if it crashes. Make it a habit to periodically copy important data files to disks, tapes, another computer or upload it on the Internet.
Protect your computer from viruses
A computer virus is a potentially damaging computer program designed to infect other software or files by attaching itself to the software or files with which it comes in contact. Virus programs are dangerous because they often destroy or corrupt data stored on the infected computer. You can protect your computer from viruses by installing an antivirus program. Popular antivirus utilities in the market include Norton Antivirus, McAfee Antivirus, Trend PC-cillin and Dr Solomon's Antivirus. You should know about some common types of viruses that threaten your PC. Here is a short list:
• Boot Sector virus: executes when a computer boots up as it resides in the boot sector of the disk
• File/program virus: attaches itself to program files. When the infected file is run, the virus loads into memory. Can be downloaded from the web or as email attachment
• Macro virus: uses macro language of an application such as word processing or spreadsheet to hide virus code. When a document containing an infected virus is opened, the virus loads into memory
• A logic bomb: is a virus that activates when it detects a certain condition
• Time bomb: a type of logic bomb that activates on a particular date
• Worm: a malicious logic program that copies itself repeatedly in memory or disk until no memory or disk space remains. Some worm programs copy themselves to other computers on a network
• Trojan horse: malicious-logic program that hides within or looks like a legitimate program. A condition or action triggers it. Does not replicate itself to other computers
• Polymorphic virus: modifies its program code each time it attaches itself to another program or file.
• Stealth virus: infects a program file, but still reports the size and creation date of the original, uninfected program
Install and update an antivirus program frequently. It protects the computer by identifying and removing any computer viruses found in memory, storage media or incoming file.
Have your software tuned
Most operating systems include several computer tools that provide basic maintenance functions.
• One important tool is the Disk Defragmenter. Defragmenting your hard disk recognizes fiels so they are in contiguous (adjacent) clusters, making disk operations faster.
• Some programs allow you to schedule maintenance tasks for times when you are not using your computer. If necessary, leave your computer on at night so it can run the required maintenance programs. If your operating system does not provide the tools, you can purchase a stand-alone utility program to perform basic maintenance functions.
• Another useful utility is Uninstaller. It removes an application as well as any associated entries in the system file. When you install an application, the operating system records the information it uses to run the software in the system files. The system file entries will remain, if you attempt to remove the application from your computer by deleting the files and folders associated with the program without running the uninstaller. Most operating systems include an uninstaller. You can also purchase a stand-alone program such as McAfee's Uninstaller.
• Disk Scanner is a utility that deletes and corrects both physical and logical problems on a hard disk of floppy disk and searches for and removes unnecessary files. A physical problem is one with the media such as a scratch on the surface of the disk. A logical problem is one with the data, such as corrupted file allocation table (FAT). Windows includes two disk scanner utilities. One detects problems and the other searches for and removes unnecessary files such as temporary files.
• A backup utility allows you to copy, or backup, selected files on your entire hard disk onto another disk or tape. During the backup process, the backup utility monitors progress and alerts you if it needs additional disks or tapes. Many backup programs will compress files during this process, so the backup files require less storage space than the original files.
• A screen saver is a utility that causes a monitor screen to display a moving image or blank screen if no keyboard or mouse activity occurs for a specified period of time. Screen savers prevent the problem of ghosting in which images could be permanently etched on a computer's screen. Though ghosting is not a problem in today's monitors, screen savers are popular for security (you can set passwords), business or entertainment purposes.
Learn to use diagnostic tools
Diagnostic tools help you identify and resolve problems, thereby helping to reduce your need for technical assistance. Diagnostic tools help you test components, monitor resources such as memory and processing power, undo changes made to files, and more. As with basic maintenance tools, most operating systems include diagnostic tools; you can also purchase or download many stand-alone diagnostic tools.
A PC without proper maintenance is like humans without proper health care. Spending time on taking care of your computer, desktop or notebook, will reduce the number of your PC-related headaches.