Regular system maintenence will save you money.
A few simple tasks performed every week in this order will keep your computer in top shape. It is also important to not invite malicious code into your system. We call it BUCS – Backup, Update, Cleanup, Scan.
You’ve heard it before. Hard drive crashed, no current backup. It could spell disaster for you or your company. There are lots of good programs available, some free, to help you effectively insure your data. I prefer backing up to CD, it’s easy, they’re cheap, and you can take them offsite for complete backup protection.
If you have data that you work with on a daily basis (an accounting program or a database) I recommend backing up to your hard drive every day, then backup the backups once a week to CD. There’s a great program called Karen’s Replicator which will automate this process for you. Just tell it what you want backed up, to where, and when. Then, every day (or every night if you schedule it that way) it will make a backup to a specified folder on your hard drive (preferably external). And … don’t forget to backup your Outlook (or other email program) files!
In the old days, I would apply patches and updates only if I needed them. Well, you need them now. Microsoft releases important security fixes regularly. You can get the Microsoft updates from any Internet Explorer browser window. Just click on Tools/Windows Update. This will take you to the Microsoft Update web site. Click on “Scan for Updates”. When it’s done you should see a link to “Download Critical Updates”. Do it! This is what protects you from things like the “Conficker Worm” that have been getting so much press. Better yet, keep your system set to Automatic Updates.
Then there’s antivirus updates. Just because you have installed antivirus software, it doesn’t mean you are protected – it must be kept up to date. Virus definition updates occur as attacks are recognized. An old definition file is no block to a new virus. Whatever antivirus program you have, open it up and check the menu options till you find “Update” and run it. Most antivirus programs also have a way to automatically update themselves whenever you’re online. Other nasties out there are Ad-ware and Spy-ware, I recommend Windows Defender to protect yourself from these. Defender is a free download from Microsoft for Windows XP. It’s built in to Windows Vista. I also recommend running CCleaner and/or Windows Live Onecare once in a while just for a second opinion. Get the latest updates, be safe.
Get rid of the excess files on your system. But don’t just go into the file system and delete files you don’t recognize. Use Disk Cleanup already on the system (Start / Programs / Accessories / System Tools / Disk Cleanup). Go through your email folders and delete old messages. Archive the old stuff if you want to save it, but get it out of your way.
Uninstall any programs you are sure you don’t use (Start / Control Panel / Add and Remove Programs.)
Everything. Schedule scans for a time when you can be away from the computer. Run Scandisk (My Computer/right-click and choose Properties, Tools, Error-checking – on XP), Virus Scan, Spybot, Defrag (My Computer/right-click and choose Properties, Tools, Defragment Drive – on XP).
My middle name is “Reboot”. If you are having a problem with a program, just reboot (Start / Shutdown *xp=Turn off / Restart) and take a quick stretch. Both you and the computer resources will benefit.