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How to maintain your PCs health.

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Twelve Simple Steps

By following these steps you increase the chances that you can avoid some of the most common problems that are brought to ITS.

Step One: Laptop Cases

Carry your laptop in a protective case or bag, free from any potentially harmful substances.

  • Computers should be carried in a bag with lots of padding and protection.
  • Alternatively, you can purchase a "laptop sleeve" to protect your computer. Models with padding inside and a hard shell are preferred.
  • Don't place food, drink, or other potentially hardful substances nearby or in a bag with your computer, as liquid spills on laptops are all too common and often come with a heavy price tag.
  • Be sure to include accident protection in your warranty, if you are concerned about accidental damage or spills.

Step Two: Power Off Regularly

Always power down your laptop before moving it around and at night.

  • The hard drive where your data is stored is a series of spinning discs with a read/write head (analogous to a record player). Thus, transporting or moving your laptop while powered on can cause corruption to the hard drive (analogous to a record scratch).
  • To avoid long boot-up times, you can also put your computer into Sleep, Standby, or Hibernate modes.
  • Shutting down your computer (or putting it into Sleep or Hibernate) will also extend the life of the hardware.

Step Three: Screens and Keyboards

Take care with the screen and keyboard.

  • The laptop's compact design means sensitive components must be stored directly below the keyboard.
  • Avoid slamming or punching down on keys with excessive force, as this may damage the components underneath.
  • The LCD screen is also sensitive, so avoid poking the screen too hard or placing heavy objects on top of your laptop.

Step Four: Laptop Cooling

Keep the laptop on a flat surface when in use and avoid blocking air vents.

  • Blocking air vents will cause the computer to operate above the normal operating temperature range, which over time will decrease the lifespan of your computer.
  • Avoid using your computer in a particularly dusty area.
  • Consider purchasing a compressed "air" canister and blowing out the dust from the vents.

Step Five: Backup Data Regularly

Backup your data regularly and backup important files to multiple locations.

  • Hard drive failure is difficult to predict and may even occur within the first few months of computer ownership
  • Develop a strategy for backing up your data regularly, suggestions are available at answers.syr.edu for how to backup your data.

Step Six: Email

Keep your email healthy by keeping your inbox small.

  • Often mail services are slow because your inbox is too large, making loading times of your inbox very slow.
  • If your inbox becomes too large, it may become corrupted and you could lose emails or miss incoming messages.

Step Seven: Security

Install a good Antivirus, keep it updated, and perform scans regularly.

  • Be sure to install a good antivirus. Your computer may come with a free trial of another antivirus, but we strongly suggest a complete version to be installed.
  • Keep the software updated by checking for daily updates.

Step Eight: Passwords

Set strong passwords.

  • Be sure to set a strong password for your username; use numbers, letters, and capitals.
  • In Mac OS and Windows be sure to set a strong password for the Administrator account, too.

Step Nine: Junk Files

Delete unwanted programs and files, and avoid installing lots of 'extras'.

  • In Windows, there are many flashy programs that run in the background of your computer (usually showing up as little icons in the task bar, e.g., WeatherBug). Use 'Add/Remove programs' in Control Panel to remove these programs or any others not in use.
  • In OS X, be sure to remove unwanted programs from your 'Applications' folder.
  • Empty your Recycling Bin or Trash.
  • Delete old files from your desktop or documents folders.
  • Remove any excess user accounts that may be taking up space.
  • Use CCleaner and PCDecrapifier, registry/cache files cleaning software which clean and remove unwanted softwares and programs.

Step Ten: OS Updates

Update Windows/OS X regularly.

  • To have the best patches and security updates available, be sure to regularly update your computer, or better yet, turn on automatic updates for Windows and for Mac.

Step Eleven: Illegal Downloading

Avoid P2P software.

  • P2P programs often come bundled with adware or spyware.
  • P2P downloads can sometimes be bogus files and may contain viruses.

Step Twelve: License Keys

Keep track of your software CD/DVDs and license keys.

  • Never discard the Windows, Office, or other discs that come with your computer; these can be invaluable in getting your computer running fast.
  • Keep all official documents, receipts, and license keys for your software, which are needed if the software must be reinstalled.


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