How to Maintain Your Computer

Two Methods:Software/Hard driveHardware/CPU

A properly maintained computer will provide you with substantially higher speeds, both via RAM and on the internet, regardless of your hardware setup and configurations. The second law of thermodynamics states that all systems degrade over time, but here are a few tips on how to delay the inevitability.

Method 1
Software/Hard drive

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    Clean out all the junk left behind by browsers. To do this, you can use the Disk Cleanup utility included on the Windows systems, or download a freeware program such as CCleaner to do it for you. In Linux you can use Kleansweep or Bleachbit. Cookies and cache left behind by browsers can amount up to gigabytes of wasted space, so it is imperative they're deleted.
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    Search and destroy spyware and/or viruses on your PC. There is a myriad of tools available to do this. AVG Anti Virus is a good one to use. is a great place to legally obtain these tools.
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    Defragment your hard drive monthly to keep your computer running smoothly. Windows XP includes a utility to do this, but a tool called Magical Defrag also exists, which automatically defragments your system during periods of inactivity.
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    Uninstall programs you no longer use, and delete music you no longer listen to. The more free space your computer has, the faster it will go. You'll be surprised how much space you'll free up and how much your computer's performance will increase.
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    Use the msconfig command in the RUN command prompt to open up a window that will allow you to uncheck start up programs you don't use. This can up your start up and boot down times a lot. CCleaner also has a feature that allows you to do the same thing (Tools--->Startup)
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    Use your computers disk management systems.
    • For Windows, select Performance and Maintenance and then choose "Rearrange items on your hard disk..." and "Free up space on your hard disk."
    • For Mac, go to the Applications Folder, select Utilities Folder then launch Disk Utility.

Method 2

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    Always run your computer on a UPS as this will help protect it from electric surges. Phone lines for modems and cat 5 or cat 6 network lines also need surge suppression as they can and will take out your network card or modem in an electric storm.
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    Your computer can grow dusty in less than a year, depending on where it is stored. Open it up depending on how dusty your house is. If it's not too dusty, then check every few months, but if it's super dusty(your house), then be much more proactive about it. Remove the dust on the bottom with a vacuum (or cloth), then spray with compressed canned air. Pay special attention to the CPU heat sink and CPU fan. Hold the fan still while spraying it as you can cause it to spin out and on reboot it may have more noise. Spray the intakes to the Power supply fan also. Since you have the cover off reboot and listen for noisy fans make sure all fans are working. Replace the fan if it stops spinning or starts making unnatural sound or you can try to lubricate the bearing,this might help.
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    Be careful when plugging in USB, Ethernet, speakers, printer etc. into your computer. Ports such as USB and Ethernet can easily be damaged from careless placement. These repairs can be costly and these ports are a necessity.
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    Underclock your CPU for the ultimate in longevity. This lowers things like voltage to give your processors a break when doing things. It may sacrifice some computing power, but the extra years are worth it.


  • There are two schools of thought here. Many prefer to leave their computers on. The thermal expansion and contraction of components can also cause failure by power cycling. In the always on case, just shut the monitor off. And put the hard drives to sleep after one hour per power-saving menu. You can also go to standby after an hour. (This sometimes causes computers to lock up though).
  • Try having a collection of USB's near your computer to store things on. One for games, work, fun, family vacation ect.
  • Give your computer a rest by turning it off once in a while. It's no big deal to leave it on for a day or two, but keep in mind that the hotter it is, the more wear and tear on components. That said....
  • When deleting files, make sure you know what they are. If you accidentally delete something important, it could cause major damage.
  • Keeping your drive up-to-date can improve the performance of the computer, and can also solve many problems. Finding a drive update online can be a big hassle, but applications like DriverMax help to detect the updates for you!
  • Be wary when unchecking in the msconfig prompt. If you don't know what you're doing, do not suggest unchecking anything as you may disable a crucial system process
  • Programs such as LimeWire, BearShare, Kazaa all have great opportunities for sharing information, but there are multiple files that contain malware, spyware, and trojans to infiltrate all your information. Also beware of the potential for identity theft. Don't be a victim.
  • Be careful overclocking your PC. It's fun- but as stated above it runs the temperature up on the motherboard and WILL melt your processor if the necessary precautions aren't met. Such as a large CPU/Fan heatsink and case fans.
  • If the uninstall you performed seems ineffective, you can manually uninstall via the regedit command in the RUN prompt. Be VERY wary when you do this as well, as the registry editor grants you unrestricted access to the most sensitive parts of your PC. USE ONLY IF YOU'RE A PROFESSIONAL! OTHERWISE, DO NOT TOUCH! Even only one wrong registry deletion can cause serious problems and even in the worst case scenario, Windows will not boot.

Things You'll Need

  • Anti-virus software.
  • Anti-spyware software.
  • Third-party disk utility software [MAC ONLY].
  • A grounding strip is optional when dealing with hardware, but highly recommended.

Article Info

Categories: Hardware Maintenance and Repair | Hardware