You are on page 1of 22

How to do Basic Computer Maintenance

What is Computer Maintenance?

Definition: Computer Maintenance

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

Why Perform Computer Maintenance Procedures?

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).

Computer Maintenance Procedures

Quite a few things can be done to maintain your computer and you do not need to be a computer
technician in order to do so. Here is a list of some of the Computer Maintenance Procedures you can
do yourself:

1. Hard Drive Maintenance

2. Privacy Software

3. Updating Your Software

Hard Drive Maintenance
One of the most important components is your computer’s hard drive. On the hard drive all the
operating system’s files are stored along with programs and files of your data. Practicing good
hard drive maintenance will ensure your hard drive is fast, efficient and will last for years.

Hard Drive Maintenance Items

There are a few things that are part of hard drive maintenance that you can do. Things such as running
scandisk, disk defragmenter and hard drive storage are essential steps in maintaining your hard drive
and keeping it in peek condition

Scanning the Hard Drive

In order to scan the hard drive, you need to run Scan Disk. Scan Disk is a built in Windows
System Utility program used to check for errors in the hard drive. To do this in any Windows 95
and newer operating system, refer to the next section “Running Scan Disk”

What Does Scan Disk Do?

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 Windows will not write to these bad areas on
the hard disk.

Errors on the hard disk can occur from improper Windows 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.
Running Scan Disk
1. Double click on my computer on your desktop

 My Computer

2. Right click on the hard drive, and select “Properties”

 Accessing hard drive properties

3. In Windows XP, under “Tools”, select “Check Now…” under “Error-checking”

 Starting Scan Disk – Windows XP

4. In Windows XP, check off “Automatically fix file system errors” and “Scan for and attempt
recovery of bad sectors”. Click “Start”

 Checking the hard disk – Windows XP

5. Windows XP will state that it will need to restart Windows and will run the check next time
it starts up. Click “Yes” and restart Windows

 Scheduling Scan Disk – Windows XP

6. In Windows 95/98/ME, under “Tools”, select “Check Now…” under “Error-checking

 Starting Scan Disk – Windows 95/98/ME

7. In Windows 95/98/ME, select the drive you wish to check, under “Type of test”, keep
“Standard” selected unless you feel that you may have problems with the hard drive’s surface;
if so, select “Thorough”. Check off “Automatically fix errors” and then click “Start”

 Scan Disk – Windows 95/98/ME

8. Scan Disk will take from 10 minutes to a few hours, depending on the type of test, amount of
errors was in the hard drive and/or the size of the hard drive
9. Once Scan Disk is finished in Windows 95/98/ME, there will be a brief summary of the results.
Click “Close” to end Scan Disk

 Scan Disk results – Windows 95/98/ME

Defragmenting the Hard Drive

In order to defragment the hard drive, you need to run a Disk Defragmenter program. Disk
Defragmenter is a built in Windows System Utility program used to defragment the hard drive. To
do this in any Windows 95 and newer operating system, follow the steps outlined in “Running
Disk Defragmenter”

Defragmenting the Hard Drive, a Warning

It is highly recommended that the power to the computer should not be turned off when running
Disk Defragmenter. Since Disk Defragmenter is copying and moving around files, shutting off
power to the computer can cause damage to your hard drive and possible data loss!

What is Fragmentation?
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, Windows 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.

It is recommended that you close all programs or applications, turn off your screen saver and let
Windows run Disk Defragmenter. Any other hard disk access will cause Disk Defragmenter to re-
read the drive information, therefore causing Disk Defragmenter to restart.
Running Disk Defragmenter
1. Double click on my computer on your desktop

 My Computer

2. Right click on the hard drive, and select “Properties”

 Accessing hard drive properties

3. Now, select “Tools” and select “Defragment Now…”

 Accessing Defragmentation – Windows XP

a. In Windows 95/98/ME, under “Defragmentation status”, it will tell you when the
last time you have defragmented the drive. Click “Defragment Now…” to start
Disk Defragmenter.

 Accessing Defragmentation – Windows 95/98/ME

4. Now in Windows XP, click on “Defragment”

 Starting Disk Defragmenter – Windows XP

5. Windows 95/98/ME, Disk Defragmenter should already be running

 Disk Defragmenter running – Windows 95/98/ME

6. Disk Defragmenter is now running. Depending on the size of your hard drive and/or how
fragmented the drive was, it may take anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours to be

 Disk Defragmenter running – Windows XP

Privacy Software

What is Privacy Software?

Definition: Privacy Software

Privacy Software is software that ensures your privacy is maintained when you are on the Internet.
Many different programs that you use on your computer, from a web browser (i.e. Internet Explorer) to
Instant Messaging (MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger) keeps track of who you are, sites that you
have visited and other such information through cookies, browser history, username and password
storage and temporary files. Privacy Software ensured the deletion of these files and prevention of this
information being transferred to other sources.

Why Use Privacy Software?

Using Privacy Software ensures the privacy of you and your information on your computer, but also
cleans up space, prevents the unauthorized installation of software (spy-ware, adware and dialers) and
frees up your Internet bandwidth.

Types of Privacy Software

There are many different kinds of privacy software out there, all claiming to protect you from hackers,
stop pop-ups and prevent spyware. Most of these programs add to the problem instead of fixing it
(since they contain spyware and adware). There is a program that I feel is one of the best programs
out there for privacy software, plus this program is free to download for personal use.

Spybot – Search & Destroy –

Spybot – Search & Destroy can detect and remove spyware of different kinds from your computer.
Spyware is a relatively new kind of threat that common anti-virus applications do not yet cover. If you
see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you didn't intentionally install, if your browser crashes, or
if you browser start page has changed without your knowing, you most probably have spyware. But
even if you don't see anything, you may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging that
is silently tracking your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile of you that will be sold to
advertisement companies.

Spybot – Search & Destroy can detect and remove a multitude of adware files and modules from your
computer. Spybot also can clean program and Web-usage tracks from your system, which is especially
useful if you share your computer with other users. Spybot’s best feature is “Immunize”, where as
Spybot will create mock spyware and adware entries on you system to “fool” the spyware and adware
into thinking that it has already been installed, so it does not install itself on the computer.
Running Spybot – Search & Destroy
1. First, go to

2. Under the “Download” heading, click on the Spybot - Search & Destroy 1.3 link

3. Click on a mirror site to download Spybot – Search & Destroy.

4. Once downloaded, double click the file to start the installation process. Agree to the License
Agreement to start installing. Keep the default install options to install Spybot – Search &

5. Check off the “Don’t show this message again.” under Legal Stuff (besides, programs that
need advertisement robots to run are spy-ware/adware), and click “OK”

 Legal Stuff

6. Spybot will ask you if you wish to create a registry back up. This is a good idea to do just in
case something goes wrong with the registry. When done, click “Next”

 Spybot-S&D Wizard – Registry Backup

7. Since we will be updating Spybot anyways, we can skip the “Search for updates”. Click “Next”

 Spybot-S&D Wizard – Updates

8. After we download the latest database for spyware and adware, we will immunize the
computer, so skip the immunize and click “Next”

 Spybot-S&D Wizard – Immunize

9. Now, click on “Start using the program”

 Spybot-S&D Wizard – Starting the program

10. Now, we must download and install the latest updates. Click on “Search for Updates”

 Search for Updates

11. Spybot will now search the update server for the latest updates for Spybot

 Update progress

12. Check off the items you wish to update, and click on “Download Updates”

 Downloading and installing updates

13. During the install process, a DOS window may open and Spybot will restart.
14. Now, click on “Check for problems” in order to see if there is spyware and adware on your

 Checking for problems (spyware, adware, etc.)

15. Now Spybot is checking your computer for spyware and adware.

 Running spyware and adware check

16. Whatever spyware and adware Spybot finds, it will list them. You can read up on the selected
problems to see what they do if you wish. Once done, click on “Fix selected problems”

 Removing spyware and adware

17. To use the Immunize feature of Spybot, click on the “Immunize” button on the side menu. A
pop-up window will appear stating how many threats your system is vulnerable. Click “OK”.
Now, click on the green cross Immunize button to immunize your computer.

 Immunizing your computer

Updating Windows
Keeping your software (Windows, anti-virus, etc.) up to date will ensure that the latest fixes and
updates are installed and available on your computer and your computer will run smoothly.
Updating your anti-virus software should be easy as clicking on a “Live-Update” button or visiting
the company’s web page of your anti-virus software. Steps to updating the software should be
contained in the website or in the documentation included with the software.

Why update Windows?

Updating your Windows operating system is very important. Microsoft puts out security fixes at a
rapid rate, since people will find problems with the operating system; but hats off to them for
addressing and fixing the problems.

Versions of Windows from 98 up contain a direct link to the Windows Update site on the start
menu, and Windows 2000 (with service pack 3) and XP have an automatic update feature which
will download the latest updates automatically.

Steps to Updating Windows

1. Open up Internet Explorer and click on “Tools”“Windows Update”. If this is not

working, you can visit Microsoft Windows Update directly at:

 Accessing Windows Update in Internet Explorer

2. Or on Windows 98 and up, Windows Update can be accessed through
“Start””Windows Update” or “Start””All Programs””Windows Update”

 Accessing Windows Update – Windows XP

3. If Windows has not been updated in a while, you may need to download and install the latest
Windows Update software. Press “Install Now”

 Getting the latest Windows Update software – Windows Update

4. After some time, you will see two options, “Express Install (Recommended):” and “Custom
Install”. Click on “Express Install (Recommended):” to start downloading and installing the
Windows Updates

 Choosing the Install method – Windows Update

5. Review the updates to install and press “Install…”

 Installing the Updates – Windows Update

6. The computer may ask for a restart after the updates. Restart the computer when prompted

7. Repeat the above steps until you get the screen below stating that there are no critical updates
to be installed