From TSG Library of Knowledge
This article should help you to maintain and ensure that your computer is kept in good condition.
A computer is like an automobile in some respects. It requires servicing to keep it in good working order. If you neglect this, it will no doubt continue to function until that day when, just like the on-board computer of the modern automobile, you suddenly start receiving error messages.
In the case of the computer, if you neglect general housekeeping and maintenance principles as well as vital updates to security-related programs, you place the health of your system at risk.
Tech Support Guy - where you are reading this short article and I am a Trusted Advisor, is one of the many computer forums providing free assistance and advice.
It was started by Mike Cermak in 1996 and here is the link to the history of the site:
Just one indication of our popularity is that on February 8th, 2012 there were 16,218 people online viewing Tech Support Guy.
If you have not already done so, why not become a member, NOW? You can then use the site to its full potential and become familiar with it before you need help with a problem and have to register.
Here is the link to HOW to register:
There are so many articles, publications, magazines, books and other resources available to obtain advice about how to use your computer that the vast choices can leave you bewildered. The purpose of this short article is to try and ensure that you have the basic rules and guidelines to follow.
READ YOUR USER GUIDE/MANUAL
Your new computer should have come with a user guide and manual, possibly partly on paper and/or on a DVD/CD, or even loaded onto the hard drive (the fixed drive inside your computer where all data is stored). To those of you who never read the manual before using your new television, washing machine, etc., I would urge you to read the computer manual. The time to learn how to enter the advanced boot options, the BIOS setup or the Recovery installation etc. is NOW, not when Windows will not load and you are under stress.
DO NOT INSTALL "GO FASTER", "OPTIMIZE" or "TWEAKING" PROGRAMS
When you connect to the internet, you will no doubt notice various advertisements offering VITAL programs to download to ensure that your computer is "tuned to run as fast as possible", or warning you of the dangers of not cleaning the registry and offering this program that will do all of this and MORE, without any knowledge required on your behalf.
Whether you are a novice user or a reasonably experienced one, the advice is quite simply - do NOT install these programs. They are frequently useless, sometimes dangerous to the health of your computer and often little more than a scam.
Some of these programs are simply outright scams and will inform you that your computer is infected with a virus and has hundreds or even thousands of errors. What started with a FREE examination of your computer can now only proceed when this program is actually purchased.
Even if you realise that it is extremely unlikely that your new computer would have all these errors, you may now be extremely disappointed to find that pop-ups constantly interrupt what you're doing to remind you that you MUST buy the program in order to resolve your problems. If this happens then it is time to come back to this site and ask for help.
One of the most common causes of problems on your computer is registry cleaning programs. These have developed and improved over recent years, to some extent and there are now a few that are quite efficient. However, in my opinion, which is probably shared by many others on this site, there is not ONE that can be trusted to work 100% of the time on 100% of computers. Additionally, you should never use these programs in an attempt to solve problems. If problems are known to exist in the registry, an automated registry cleaner, optimizer or defragmenter is not the solution.
See the following link for the opinion of a respected expert:
Your new machine will no doubt have an anti-virus program pre-installed on it. It may be AVG, Norton, Avast, Avira or one of the many others that are available. However, it is more than likely only a 30-day trial.
Although the length of the trial period may vary, it is unlikely that the anti-virus program is more than a free trial on the average branded computer. It will be a fully working version of the program until the trial period expires, at which time you will be required to either renew the FREE version, purchase the full one or carry out some other similar course of action.
If you did read the user guide then you will probably know all about this. However, you would be amazed how many people continue to use the computer after the free trial has expired and, effectively, without adequate virus protection. New viruses are discovered every day and unless your anti-virus program is up to date, YOU ARE AT A MUCH GREATER RISK.
Here is a link with advice on protecting your system against malware:
Many people also use P2P (Peer to Peer) sites. Some offer apparently FREE downloading of music but many, illegally. Using this type of software is a more or less certain route to acquiring malware.
Please see this:
as well as the warnings in this article:
and the most scary risk of P2P is the malware that it installs to monitor EVERYTHING you do on the computer, including attempts to penetrate your banking security and even steal your identity.
It may seem great to be able to torrent the latest music until the day when you find that the most recent music download not only will not play but YOUR computer is displaying strange messages and behaviour that you have not seen before.
Then you access the Internet and wonder why it is not your usual "home page" that you're seeing. If you have ignored the advice NOT to download this type of software, now is the time to ask for help from our Malware Removal Specialists at Tech Support Guy.
Click on the following link for instructions on what to do:
You may browse the link without registering but you must become a member if you wish to seek assistance (the link on how to do so is listed earlier in this article).
PROTECT YOUR DATA - Backup and restore
Your computer will most likely have been supplied with instructions on how to protect your data so that recovery from disaster is at least possible.
Many computers are provided with the Windows operating system pre-installed on the hard drive and an installation DVD/CD is not included.
Most, but not all of these machines, advise you to prepare your own Recovery DVD in order to support the recovery partition on the hard drive where a backup copy of Windows is installed.
IF your new computer is so equipped and you have read the manual, please do NOT make this one of those tasks that is to be done tomorrow. YOU may be unfortunate in discovering that the computer crashes before tomorrow has arrived.
After reading the manual and following the guidance therein, the best advice is to purchase an external hard drive. They are relatively inexpensive these days, about £30 UK will buy you an adequate external hard drive, usually connected via a USB port to your computer. Once you have an external drive, all of your personal data and a complete image of the hard drive can be installed on it.
Note that it is not sufficient to have backups stored on the same hard drive as the original data. While this may help to protect against accidental changes or corruption, if the hard drive fails and is damaged beyond repair, you will lose all of the data that was stored on it.
How to Backup
There are many ways of doing this. XP provides one in the Professional edition and it may also be installed in the Home edition. Here is the link to Microsoft's XP general guide:
and another link to a FULL guide on using the Backup utility on XP. The article also deals with installing the Backup utility on XP Home edition:
Here is the link for Vista:
and the link for Windows 7:
Free Back-up Utilities
There are many free utilities and some that can be purchased that are easier to use than the ones listed above.
If your internal or external hard drive is a Western Digital then they provide a free edition of Acronis. Here is the link:
If one of your hard drives is a Seagate then you can use their Disc Wizard:
and a link listing other hard drive manufacturers' utilities, not all of whom provide imaging utilities:
The BACKUP is vital for any computer on which there is data that cannot easily be replaced. It addresses one of the inherent weaknesses of OEM builds where Windows was pre-installed, the installation CD was not provided and the hard drive has a recovery partition. WHEN, not if but WHEN that drive fails beyond repair that recovery partition may just as well have NEVER existed.
If your new computer has Windows 7 installed then it has the ability to create a repair disk. This is a vital step which is explained here:
If you have data which is irreplaceable, such as images, documents or indeed perhaps your financial accounts then backup is vital. Ideally, files of great importance should not only be backed up to an external hard drive but also onto other media that is not connected to the computer such as CDs/DVDs or another hard drive. Do not rely on flash drives for long term data storage.
CLEANING YOUR BROWSING HISTORY
Every time you connect to a web site it is recorded in your browsing history. In addition, small files known as "cookies" as well as other types of files are created and stored on your hard drive. These files can become quite large and should be deleted regularly.
The links below explain how to do this. Passwords for logging into sites that require them, such as your email, are also saved, if you so choose.
The procedures outlined in the following links cover both deleting or not deleting the saved passwords:
Internet Explorer (although the link refers to Vista, the actual procedure is for Internet Explorer and is not restricted to any specific operating system):
CLEANING THE HARD DRIVE - using Windows - Disk Cleanup
This utility is your first basic tool for ensuring that your hard drive is not cluttered with unnecessary files. These files are created from various activities and Disk Cleanup will safely remove them. Generally, for the less experienced user, all selections on Disk Cleanup may be checked and the program run on a weekly basis, however, care is needed if you use power-saving modes known as Hibernation, Sleep or Hybrid-sleep.
When a computer is hibernated, data for current processes is written to the hard drive and stored in the hyberfil.sys file. When a computer is placed in sleep mode, the data for current processes is retained in RAM. If you use these power-saving modes, ensure that the item listed in Disk Cleanup as "Hibernation File Cleaner" is not checked.
Further guidance is provided in the following links. Here is your link to Disk Cleanup for Vista:
and here for Windows 7:
and here for Windows XP:
FURTHER ADVICE ON MAINTENANCE
This includes defragmenting the hard drive, uninstalling unwanted programs, removing Windows components that are not required and the more advanced option of reducing the number of items in your Startup folder.
AND an excellent program for cleaning temporary files, which may be used on all Windows operating systems, is available here:
- Download TFC to your desktop.
- Close any open windows
- Double-click the TFC icon to run the program
- TFC will close all open programs itself in order to run
- Click the Start button to begin the process
- Allow TFC to run uninterrupted
- The program should not take long to finish its job
- Once it's finished, it should automatically reboot your machine. If it doesn't, manually reboot to ensure a complete clean
Tech Support Guy
If you do join, you will now be a member of one of the best computer help sites available. You will find us to be a welcoming, family friendly site and hopefully, we will solve your problem for you. If you have some degree of technical knowledge yourself, you may even wish to contribute to the forums by helping other people solve their computer problems.
We do have a few rules but they are there to help EVERYONE and to maintain the excellent reputation of this site.
Here is the link to those rules:
An important rule that I'd like to emphasize before you join is this one:
"As you might expect, we don't want anything illegal going on here. Users cannot post hacks, cracks, pirated software, or anything of the like. Furthermore, we do not allow instructions on how to complete illegal activities, such as pirating. Please don't ask for advice on using illegal software, as it will be removed."
May I stress again that BACKUP is the most important and the most vital process you will ever carry out.
Many people have regretted the day that they did not create a full backup.
However well and efficiently you maintain your computer, one day something will go wrong. If you're lucky, it may be simple to recover from the error. Sometimes nothing more than a reboot will be required.
On the other side of the coin, computers, like any other electronics, can fail and if this does occur, for whatever reason, that backup on an external hard drive or other medium may prove to be your lifesaver.
In conclusion, I hope you found this guide useful.
All the Links were live when the article was prepared. However some sites do change their link address (URL) from time to time.
Macboatmaster Article prepared March 2012.