1. COMPUTER MAINTENANCE DEFINITION
Computer Maintenance is basically the same as any other type of maintenance; it is a set of services or procedures performed to keep something (in this case, a computer) in good working condition. A well-maintained computer will run faster, more efficiently and crash less than one that has not been maintained.
Maintaining your computer is not only good for your computer, but for you as well. Practicing good maintenance procedures will save you money (less chance of items breaking down and having to replace them), time (improved performance means less waiting time and less breaking down means more usage) and protects your data (by backing up the data, for example).
3. COMPUTER MAINTENANCE ESSENTIALS
There are seven computer maintenance essentials such as below:
i) Establish a relationship with a reputable vendor. This is probably your most important decision. The vendor should be easily accessible and have the ability to respond quickly to solve your problems.
ii) Regular and automated backups. Disks have become so cheap that there is not excuse why you should not have some kind of easily recoverable backup. This item includes mirror or archive backup copies of your essential files.
iii) Automated firewall and virus protection. Given the enormous amount of viruses and malicious activity on the net, an updated firewall and virus protection is essential. One client lost days of productivity because they thought that servers were immune from virus attack and had no protection installed.
iv) Alternative Internet connectivity. Depending on the nature of your business and your budget, your alternative could be a simple backup dialup connection or a complete alternative service provider.
v) Alternative email addresses and backup websites. For most businesses not having e-mail access can spell disaster.
vi) Good records of your installed applications. It is easy to forget how many applications you have installed on your system.
vii) Outsource external facing services to a supported data center company. With a variety of vendors and services to choose from, all for a reasonable price, why should you be tying up your company bandwidth and potentially opening yourself to malicious attack by hosting your own website or FTP server? This is one case that outsourcing is the truly best option.
4. COMPUTER MAINTENANCE CATEGORIES
Computer maintenance falls into four (4) categories as follows:
4.1. Backup of data
Always back up data on a regular basis. You do not have to back up your entire hard drive, including the Operating System and your programs, you only have to back up your personal information which you created and would need if your computer crashed.
Whatever the method of backup, it should be done once a week, and have 3 sets of disks, labeled "A", "B", and "C". On week 1 use the "A" set, on week 2 use the "B" set, on week 3 use the "C" set, and on week 4 start over with the "A" set. This takes no additional time on your part, but if you go to restore and mess up the most recent set, you always can fall back to the set which is only one week older.
4.2. Updating and running your Virus Scanner
You must have a Virus Scanner, even if you don't spend time on the Internet. You can still get viruses from shared floppies and even loading programs from CD's. Just don't take the chance of not using one and not keeping it up to date.
There are two parts to virus scanning. First you must update your virus scanning program weekly. To do this you will need to be logged onto the Internet. This is how your program detects viruses, by the virus signatures you download. If you choose not to update for 2 years, then you are unprotected from those viruses released in those two years. Once you update your virus scanner with the new signatures, you should run a virus scan. This checks your hard drive for the presence of viruses and eliminates them.
4.3. Checking "Operation System Update" and installing anything critical
Sometimes it can be found by going to Help and in "index" type Operation System Update (name of OS is according to the user). If it cannot be found, log on the Internet and go to the OS official website.
4.4. Maintenance of Hard Drive - DiskClean / ScanDisk / Defrag
The Hard Drive is the most vulnerable part of the computer. Eventually every hard drive will fail. The question is not "if" only "when". By doing regular backups, as suggested will reduce the trauma of this event when it happens.
By following these steps will probably extend the life of the hard drive and certainly allow it to run more quickly and efficiently.
Below are three (3) techniques of maintaining a hard drive:
(a) Disk Cleanup
Disk cleanup is used to delete temporary files not needed. Depending on the OS used, it will also show the memory space usage.
Scan Disk is used to check for errors on a hard disk. If Scan Disk finds errors, it will try to correct these errors automatically. If there are problems with areas on the hard disk that Scan Disk cannot fix, Scan Disk will mark them as “bad”, and the OS will not write to these bad areas on the hard disk.
Errors on the hard disk can occur from improper shutdown, programs ending incorrectly (either through crashing or the power being turned off when the program was trying to save) or just basic “wear and tear” of the hard drive.
(c) Disk Defragmentation:
Fragmentation refers to the condition of a disk in which files are divided into pieces scattered around the disk. Windows will try to write the file contiguously, (basically meaning, all information in a row, in the same area or in clusters on the hard disk), but sometimes the file is too large in order to do so. So, the OS will store parts of a file in non-contiguous clusters. This is entirely invisible to users, but it can slow down the speed at which data is accessed because the disk drive must search through different parts of the disk to put together a single file.