TLC for My PC – 9 Computer Maintenance Tasks I Have Resolved to Do More Frequently

Computers are invaluable to freelance writers. There’s a certain joy to writing on a typewriter, to be sure, but you can’t log online to do research for a project, email your clients or update your Facebook status on a typewriter.

My computer is definitely invaluable to me. I depend a lot on her (yes, my computer has a personality of her own). She is not just my workmate. She entertains me, she keeps my life in order, and sometimes she even acts as my confidant. Nothing can go wrong with my day if my computer is running as she should.

Conversely, nothing ruins my schedule more than when my computer decides to throw a hissy fit and refuse to work as she usually does. It often takes some cajoling to soothe her out of her bad mood. Sometimes it works easily, but sometimes it doesn’t. The last time she threw a tantrum at me, which was shortly after I returned from my recent holiday, I had to reformat her and wipe her clean.

Computers need TLC too.

Of course, on hindsight, my computer wouldn’t be so ill-tempered lately if I had been diligent in attending to her needs in the last few months. She can’t just work and work all the time without any TLC from me, after all.

And so I have resolved to do right by her. My computer works hard for me, so it’s only right that I return the favor. Here is the list of computer maintenance tasks I promised I would do for her on a regular basis:

  1. Scanning for viruses and malware. Actually, I’m kind of OC with scanning my computer for evil bugs. I’ve got Microsoft Defender set up as well as Avast and Spybot Search and Destroy running in real time. I update them regularly, too. Still, some viruses can slip through even the most vigilant of antivirus and anti-malware programs. So I try to scan my system at least once a week.
  2. Scanning the hard drive for errors. Constant usage can be physically taxing on your hard drive. Scanning for errors improves the computer’s performance and prevents the hard drive from crashing and wiping out your data. I just right-click my hard drive on Windows Explorer and use the error-checking tool in the Properties menu.
  3. Defragmenting the hard drive. Computers tend to save data wherever there is space. So, a single file can be split in different spots all over your hard drive. Not only does it make your hard drive messy, it also makes accessing files take longer than it should. Defragmenting your hard drive will gather all these split portions of your files and put them back together. Windows has its built-in defrag software, but it’s horribly slow. I use Smart Defrag instead.
  4. Updating the software. Windows and other software developers regularly release updates to their products to patch up whatever bugs and vulnerabilities the software may have. I had a computer crash on me because I got annoyed at Windows Update and turned it off. That’s a lesson learned the hard way.
  5. Cleaning the registry. Windows relies a lot on its registry. Almost all software you use on your PC dump data such as settings and license keys on the registry. The data change every time you use your computer, and old data are left behind just sitting there in the process. To make your computer more efficient, you need to get rid of the old data in your registry. CCleaner is the tool I use for this task.
  6. Spring cleaning data. Error logs, temp files and trash files – you don’t really need to store them on your hard drive. They just take up precious free space and bog down your computer. Running disk cleanup once a month or so will get rid of those trash files. To access Windows’ disk cleanup utility, just go to the System and Maintenance options in the Control Panel. Once you’re there, click the “free up disk space” command under Administrative Tools. Or you can use CCleaner.
  7. Clearing the browser cache and history. Cache data, cookies and other files stored by your web browser can pile up and slow down your web applications. I alternate between Chrome and Firefox. I’ve set Firefox to clear the cache whenever I close it, and you can do that by going to the Options menu and ticking “Clear history when Firefox closes” option under the Privacy tab. You can’t clear the cache on Chrome automatically, however. You have to download an extension like AutoClear for that or do it manually from Chrome’s settings menu.
  8. Backing up data. This is another task I’m actually quite OC with. I don’t make hard copies of my documents, but I make multiple copies. I have a copy in my computer’s hard drive, in two separate external hard drives, and in cloud storage. PCWorld recommends backing up hard drives as images, and they have a step-by-step guide to doing that.
  9. Cleaning the computer itself. As important as your hardware are, the outer shell that contains your hardware is just as important. The tower case, the monitor, the keyboard and the mouse need to be cleaned regularly, too. A rag and elbow grease plus an LCD screen cleaner should do the trick for monitors. You can use a vacuum cleaner or compressed air for getting the dust from the inside of your tower case. As for cleaning the keyboard, here’s a guide from HowToGeek.com.

My computer is my most invaluable tool for getting by my work as a freelance writer. I should have been taking better care of her. If you work a lot with computers, then you should give your PC a lot of TLC too.

What computer maintenance task do you hate doing the most and how do you get around it?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Anna Sibal-Gonzaga is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She likes reading books and watching movies and TV shows in the sci-fi, fantasy and historical genres. She is also a casual gamer and an all-around nerd.

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