Tech Talk Thursday: Tips for a Healthy PC – Part 2: Software Maintenance

We continue our discussion on good PC hygiene this month with some easy tips for software maintenance!  If you missed our Part 1 of this 3-part series, be sure to check out our Tech Talk Thursday post from last month where we covered basic hardware maintenance.

Software Maintenance:

Back Up Your Data:

Before you do anything, back up your data. After you make any updates or changes, back up your data. If you’re unsure how to back up your data, first you need a place to store your data. Either an external storage drive or virtual storage space will be sufficient. Once you have decided on where you would like to store your data, either manage storage from the Control Panel of your computer or through your cloud storage account.

Customize Startup Programs:

One way to noticeably improve the run speed on your computer is to customize or remove unused startup items. If your PC uses Windows 10, type the Ctrl+Alt+Del command, go to the Task Manager, and click on the Startup tab. Here you can disable any items you do not wish to open upon startup of your computer. *If you are running Windows 7 you will need to reach the startup tab by typing “msconfig” in your start menu, then going to the Startup tab. *If you are on a Mac, go to your System Preferences>Users and Groups>Login Items.

If you don’t play solitaire anymore, why not uninstall it?

Remove Unused Software:

Sometimes we install software for one time use then never touch it again. It’s a good idea to uninstall any software you do not use. If you are on Windows 10, go to the Start Menu>Settings>System>>Apps & features then select the app you wish to uninstall and click “Uninstall”.  If you are on Windows 7, go to your Control Panel and click Programs. From here you can uninstall programs. If you are on a Mac, visit Applications from your Finder window; if the apps you wish to install have an “Uninstall” feature run that feature. If it does not, simply click and drag the software to the trash, then empty your trash.

Run Updates:

Try to always keep all software updated to the latest versions.  If it helps, schedule a day once a week to run updates. Make sure you update your operating system as well as individual programs you use on a regular basis. If you’re unsure how to look for updates, each software program has a “Check for Updates” feature usually located in the Help tab. If it’s not there, you can Google where to find it. To update your Windows operating system type “Windows update” in the start menu.

Clean Up Hard Drive:

Even though magnetic hard drives are becoming a thing of the past a lot of desktop computers still have them. One way to improve performance is to “Defragment” your hard drive. To defragment your hard drive on Windows 10 simply type “Optimize” or “defrag” into your start menu and the Optimize Drive window will come up. Click the hard drive you wish to optimize and click “Analyze”. This feature will scan your hard drive and tell you what percentage of it is fragmented. If the amount is low, then defragmenting it will not make much of a difference. If the amount is high, go ahead and click “Optimize” to defragment.  If you are on Windows 7 simply open your Computer window, right click the hard drive, then click Properties. On the Tools tab you can Analyze and Defragment. If you are on a Mac there is no defragment option as the hardware storage in Macs uses something called Hot File Adaptive Clustering (HFC) which basically clusters all your files as they come and go, so it is in a perpetual state of already being defragmented. *Use CCleaner free software to assist with cleaning up files on your computer. Most tech forums reference this software specifically. It will find temporary and unused files and clean them from your computer without any hassle. Make sure you download the “Slim” version.

Run Fewer Programs at Once:

This is kind of obvious but basically the more programs you have running = the less RAM you have available = slower computer. Even if you are not using a program, having it open will slow down your computer. This applies to both Windows and Mac computers. If you are on a Mac make sure you properly shut down the software as opposed to just closing the window the software was using. To properly shut down a Mac app, right click on the app and click “Quit”.

Clear Cookies and Temporary Web Data:

Every browser you use stores data (offline). Take a little time to clear your browsing history and cookies from each browser.  Each browser has their own way of clearing history and cookies, so look them up if you are unsure of the method for your browser of choice. If you are ever curious about what cookies are and what they do, check out this informative site: https://www.aboutcookies.org/page/2/

Run an Antivirus Software:

Always have antivirus software for safety but also to clean up any malware that can bog down your computer. A few listed that are free are Malwarebytes and Glary Utilites.

 

Thus ends Part 2! Next month, we’ll wrap up this series with some overall best practices.

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