In order to run an effective home PC service and give your computer a good overhaul on a regular basis, I have compiled the following checklist of generic tasks that are worth completing every 2 to 4 weeks. These actions shouldn’t take long to run and can reduce the amount of time you spend fixing computers, and go a long way to keeping your computer stable, safe from viruses and running fast.
Back Up: Do a full data and photo backup on a weekly basis to an external storage device. If I am doing extensive data entry at home, producing a lot of work documents on local drives or am about to run some PC repairs then I run a back up on a daily basis.
There are two main computer backup options open to users. Online backup services like My Live Drive can copy over 2 GB worth of data (which would store a fair amount of personal data – but perhaps not all your photos/MP3s) and locally installed applications, such as Final Sync, are great for synchronizing data between computers and external drives/storage.
For extra peace of mind, password protect folder files and data on the backup versions so that they are useless to others if your copies are lost/stolen.
Updates: Set the Windows update service and anti-virus software to automatically check for updates. Security and fix packs for the operating system and device drivers are always installed straightaway.
Anti-Virus: Scan internal drives, external drives and USB memory drives as often as you can tolerate. I run a scan daily over lunch as (a) the scan doesn’t interfere with my work and (b) a virus left on your PC for over 24 hours could cause a lot of PC errors.
Defragmentation: Any home computer service would not be complete without disk defragmentation. Windows own tool can do this relatively well, but specialist cleaning tools like Regtool can defragment the drive along with cleaning out temporary files at the same time.
Fix the Registry: Registry corruption is something that can occur due to virus damage, application changes (installs, updates, removals) and many other events. Running a registry cleaner to back up the registry, clean the redundant keys and fix/optimize settings is the ideal way to maintain PC stability. Tools like XP Repair Pro focus on just the registry repairs.
Check Disk: Run the Windows Check Disk tool every few months as part of a home PC service to establish how healthy the disk sectors are on your hard drives. Getting an early warning of sector faults and PC errors should give you some time to back up data and start looking into resolutions/workarounds before you need to start considering hard drive crash recovery options or call in a computer service technician.
Clean Out Some Disk Space: Keeping at least 10% disk space free for the Windows paging file to expand and be used as virtual memory. This helps fix error messages relating to “insufficient disk space” exceptions. You can free up some space manually by removing temporary internet files and other cached files or automate the process using the aforementioned RegTool application.
Removing unused applications during a home computer service is an optional task to complete, but is a great way of clearing out vast volumes of files without impacting your personal data.
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