Keep your Computer Happy and Healthy

1. Start with the very things right at your fingertips, the mouse and keyboard. These are the dirtiest parts of your computer. If you share the computer with anyone consider keeping some hand sanitizer by your desk to wipe down the mouse now and then.

If you have a mouse which has the wheel inside of it and is open at the bottom take the mosue apart. Easy to do by just pushing it as the arrows show. Get the crud off the parts of the mouse that turn and spin. Take out the ball itself and give it a wipe off. I’ve read that you should not vacuum your keyboard but I do and it works. I also turn it upside down and give it a gentle shake or two. You will be surprised how much falls out of it, even if you never eat over it and don’t have pets.

2. While you have a cloth out wipe off the rest of the computer, all the outside case. The back too. Use a cloth which won’t leave lint behind, that should just be common sense. You can find some nice ones in the dollar store so don’t think you need anything special or expensive. If you aren’t intimidated, take the outer case off your computer and give it a cleaning inside too. There is a huge build up of dust inside. If your computer is running poorly this could be the culprit. Take it to a repair service if you don’t want to open it yourself. But you can do it, just be sensible and don’t let it get at all wet. Take off your watch and rings, anything which could cause static or catch on something.

3. Back up all your files. You can burn them onto a CD or DVD if possible and then delete all the extra files you don’t use often. Keep your copy of them on the disc but clean them off your had drive. Get a box or a folder for CD’s, something to keep your discs safe and organized. You might even reinstall Windows if you have the back up disc. This will wipe your hard drive clean and give you a real fresh start. But, back up whatever you want to keep first, of course.

3. If you don’t already have a surge protector get one. If you have a surge protector which is second hand or several years old consider a new one. The purpose of a surge protector is to keep out power surges which can come from bad weather or a power surge from the outlet itself. Each of those surge protector bars are only good for one shot. If that shot is gone you just have a regular standard power bar and that won’t help you when you might need it again.

4. I have a debate with my sister and brother about leaving the computer on all the time. I don’t and they do. My brother turns off his monitor, my sister doesn’t do even that. However, she does have her computer set to hibernate after a set amount of time of not being used. Myself, I shut my whole system down each night when I go to bed. Also, if I plan on being away several hours I do not leave it on.

It isn’t good for a computer to be shut down and booted back and shut down in a small space of time. But, it also isn’t good for the use of electricity for it to always be left on. You should decide what you think best but consider shutting down if you know you will not be using it for a long period such as a weekend away or a week off, etc. If you wouldn’t leave the television on why would you leave the computer on?

5. Defrag your hard drive. This is an old word for letting the computer check it’s hard drive for errors and save space by packing everything in tighter and better organized. I’m sure you can find extra software to do this but Windows does come with it’s own defrag program and that should work just fine. Look it up in your Windows Help to find out just where to get started with it. The defrag will take quite awhile so don’t start it when you have something urgent to do online.

6. Get software for anti virus and spyware. Use them. Let them run their updates each time before you use them and run the checks at the very least monthly. Weekly is better. Daily is probably just going to be too annoying for most people. I don’t like to wait here twiddling my thumbs everyday either.

7.  Clean up the registery files. There are free software programs to do this or use the one available with Windows. A clean registery will help your computer run faster.

8. Look for updates on the software you use often. Some, like Firefox, update without being asked. If you find that annoying (a slow down when you are online) then you may have turned it off. You should be able to find an update link in the software. Check for something like an About or Help button in the toolbar of the software. These should have an update link or a link to the program’s home site where updates are available.

9. Give yourself a new background, something seasonal, flowers, animals or somethng to take your breath away. Use a site like Webshots.com, it’s my favourite and it’s free.

10. Write down important information about your computer. You should know the brand (Acer, IBM, etc) and the model and type, also the serial numbers for everything you can find on there, especially your operating system (Windows most likely). If you ever need tech support this information will be important.

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