Home Computer Maintenance - Tips and Guidelines

Arthur K. Burditt III, CheckWithArthur.Com

 

This outline material is drawn from notes I used in teaching computer maintenance to group classes.

These notes cover various tips, tools and best practices to get the best possible performance from your home computer.

I have posted it here for use by my computer help customers in identifying areas they may want help.

 

CLASS 1 of 2

 

I.             Make friends with experts - Introductions:

Instructor – 25+ years’ experience using home computers and helping offices and home computer users learn and deal with computer systems

Class members (10) 

Friends, neighbors, computer user clubs

 

II.           Tap the FAQs and Tech Support – E.g., Microsoft, Dell, HP  

Applies to computers in general but we will consider our topics today in a Windows framework.

Computer consists of your computer hardware and work area, its operating system, software installed on your computer, and other local, network or internet (cloud) devices and resources

Computer maintenance means keeping your Windows computer running smoothly:

                             Longevity – Maximizing its useful lifetime

                             Reliable operation – Avoiding failures to operate

                             Efficiency – Enhancing performance at satisfactory levels

 

III.         Work Location – Arranging computer equipment and surrounding space

Easy-to-see with indirect lighting, away from direct sunlight

Dust-free area

Magnetically and electrically neutral

Surge-protected – by hardware and flooring

Cleaning, kits, and static – Prevention and precaution 

Well-ventilated port, cable, drive and fan areas

Accessible back-space, side-space

Comfortable sitting space, foot room, accommodations

Adequate surface and shelf space

USB cable extenders and hubs

     Solid support surface for printer

                   Computer desk features – Wheeled, open-back

 

IV.         Computer Use Times

Reasonable periods of continuous use

Periodic log-offs, restarts and shutdowns

Normal shutdown practices

On-time for security, maintenance, backup and update cycles

Update schedules – start-ups, restarts and start-up delays

                   Allowance for storm times

 

V.          Log-in Access – User Controls (Control Panel / Settings)

 

Default or Admin account or identity – Password-controlled, Admin privileges, generally clean of software installations, generally clean of user files

Primary User – Typically “self” by Name – Password-controlled, Admin privileges

Guest – Generally NO password, NO Admin privileges

Other Users / Family Users – May set up individual log-in with or without password, but generally NO Admin privileges

 

VI.         Organizing, Managing and Locating your files

Windows Explorer / File Explorer – Learn its features

Use Folders and Sub-folders according to your needs

Left-Right Pane familiarity, folder expansion

Cut, Copy, Paste, Move, Drag-drop / CTL, Menu, R-click

Options: View Type; Show extensions

User folder (Libraries) versus general C:\ drive folders

Option – Indexing available to include file text content

 

CLASS 2 of 2

 

VII.       Reference – “For the record” Notebook Log – E.g. Spiral or steno

                   License codes and serial numbers

Passwords clearly identified by purpose

Software installations, versions and purchase details

Device installations and purchase details

Set-up, Setting or other technical specifications

Log significant upgrades and repairs

Contact and source information

Reminders and questions for action or follow-up

VIII.     Windows system maintenance tools

Routine operating system maintenance – some automatic

          Defragmenting

          Check Disk (incl. hard shutdown situations)

          Recycle Bin

          IE Temporary Internet Files

          System Restore points

Safe software removal –

Control Panel – Programs and Features (Windows Uninstall – versus “Delete”, versus proprietary Uninstall)

                             Program list View

                             Uninstall delayed refresh

                             Update removals – e.g. IE 11

                   Safe hardware removal versus simple unplug

 

IX.         Security & Utility Programs

                   Anti-virus - Anti-malware – Choosing a software

                             Microsoft Security Essentials / Windows Defender

                             Competitive Productions – E.g. AVG, Avast

                             Security & Utility Suites – E.g. Kapersky, Norton, McAfee

                             Malware programs – E.g. Malwarebytes

System and registry clean-up – Generally available with a Microsoft-listed competitor as part of a software suite

Never install a program of this kind or any kind in reponse to a an unexpected pop-up screen

 

X.          Recommended backup and storage precautions

                   Security precautions and breach handling

Know the look of your AVS and follow suggested action when Threat is discovered

In case of a freeze-up requiring hard re-boot, use F8 to restart into Safe mode, check Program and Start-up lists, then consider Check Disk, Delete Temp IE, System Restore

                   Data back-up, restoration and access

                             Minimum: Copy User Folder to a flash drive regularly

Personal practice: Use service like Carbonite – Save User files to Cloud, and save a Mirror Image to local external hard drive

Alternatives: Windows Backup/Restore, OneDrive, and various Cloud space vendors offer comparable safeguard solutions – Always keep your access information for backups and restores available somewhere in hardcopy

 

XI.         Software Combinations

 

                   Duplicative and competing software installations

Ensure that only one program is active for any one of these functions - AV, Malware, Firewall, Clean-up, Registry

Browsers and other programs or Apps correspond 1:1 with file extensions – controlled through file type association settings

                   Unsafe sites and unsafe protection

Active AV and Malware software should guard against most risks associated with unsafe sites and executables

                   Drive-by's

Risky or annoying software associated with installation of many Apps, Extensions, Toolbars

Malware and junkware installed as drive-by’s may cause undesirable computer symptoms including

Block websites

Reroute to unwanted websites

Slow performance and load on computer operation

Self-flagging as target through online connection

                   Deactivate and Uninstall

                             Deactivate through Task Bar and Task Manager

                             Uninstall through Control Panel

                             As a Rule, do NOT delete “Shared Files”

 

XII.       Summary:

 

Make Friends to Share Know-How – E.g. Computer clubs

Tap Available FAQs and Tech Support Resources

Arrange a Good Work Location and Surrounding Space

Allow for Your Computer’s Own Maintenance Schedule 

Limit User Access to Your Computer Controls

Allow Time to Organize and Manage Your Files

                   Keep a Reference Notebook to Log Technical Information

Know and Use the Regular Windows OS Maintenance Tools

                   Rely Upon Familiar Security & Utility Programs

                   Make Regular Back-Ups of Your User Files or Disk

                   Reduce Duplicative, Idle and Suspicious Software

 


 

 

 

Home Computer Maintenance - Tips and Guidelines

Arthur K. Burditt III – CheckWithArthur.Com

 

Class 1

Make Friends to Share Know-How – E.g. Computer clubs

Tap Available FAQs and Tech Support Resources

Arrange a Good Work Location and Surrounding Space

Allow for Your Computer’s Own Maintenance Schedule 

Limit User Access to Your Computer Controls

Allow Time to Organize and Manage Your Files

Class 2

Keep a Reference Notebook to Log Technical Information

Know and Use the Regular Windows OS Maintenance Tools

Rely Upon Familiar Security & Utility Programs

Make Regular Back-Ups of Your User Files or Disk

Reduce Duplicative, Idle and Suspicious Software

 

 

Hope this information is helpful.

 

Arthur K. Burditt III

(352) 875-7878

akburditt@gmail.com