Simple tips for maintaining your computer

Keeping your computer properly maintained will ensure faster speeds when performing daily tasks and browsing the Internet. Here are some simple tips to get you started.

Simple tips for maintaining your computer

Quickly clean your computer

Screens and keyboards become dusty and grimy with daily use. It's worth spending a few minutes cleaning them up from time to time.

  • First, turn off your machine and unplug it: you shouldn't clean your computer when it's on.
  • A flat-screen monitor or laptop display needs delicate treatment. Lightly dampen a soft, lint-free cloth (don't use paper towels) and wipe from side to side, never in a circle. Never clean your screen with products containing acetone, ethyl alcohol, toluene, ethyl acid, ammonia or methyl chloride.
  • Keyboards tend to fill up with dust, fluff, crumbs and other detritus that can damage the inner workings. Unplug it (if yours is free-standing), turn it upside-down and shake, then vacuum it with the brush attachment. Cans of compressed air, available at camera shops, can be used to blow dust from between the keys. Don't use household cleaners or a wet cloth on a keyboard.

Freeing up computer memory

To keep your computer working smoothly, you need at least 700 megabytes (Mb) of free memory. You can check how much space you have on your hard disk (usually drive C) by clicking on the "Start" button then "Computer".  If you need to make more space, try some of the following tips.

  • Regularly go through old files and delete any you don't need.
  • Uninstall any software you don't use by deleting programs through the control panel.
  • Move big files to an external hard disk. This is a good idea for movies, photos or music files that you want to keep but don't need to access all the time. Move or copy the files, delete the originals from your computer and simply plug in the external drive when you need it.

Backing up your PC

Some operating systems come with an automatic back-up facility. You can specify variables such as which files you want to back up, where you want to store the files, and how often you want to run the program.

  • Look for a  "Backup and Restore"  application on your computer. Then follow the steps outlined on-screen.
  • You can keep your back-ups in a partition of your computer's hard drive, but it's safer to back up to a separate device, such as an external hard drive. That way, you don't lose your files if your computer gets lost or broken beyond repair.
  • For a small monthly fee you can back up your files to a secure online server (type "online back-up" into a search engine).
  • A crude way to make back-ups is simply to drag and copy all vital files to a new folder on an external hard disk (include the date of the back-up in the folder's name). Just remember: any back-up is better than none at all.

Get rid of dirt and unused programs with these tips, and you can get your computer to run faster and more efficiently in no time!

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