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Maintenance of your computer, very much like your car, is vital to its longevity and how well it performs. Also, much like your automobile, it can be a dramatic exercise in frustration. You’ll want to contact The Local Computer Guy when your computer is acting up. I encourage you to have The Local Computer Guy handy but there are several steps that the average user can do to help keep a computer working correctly.

Virus protection

If you connect to the Internet, it is vital that you have a good virus program installed and activated. You don’t even have to pay for it if you are a home user.  It is essential with whatever brand you choose that the program updates its virus definitions regularly.

Hard drive defragmentation

Your hard drive is the storage device for files on your computer. They are stored in chunks as space if found. As files get modified or deleted, holes are created which are then filled with chunks from new files. Over time, files get more and more fragmented. The end result is that it takes longer and longer for your computer to find all the pieces of files and everything begins to slow down. Applications can start having problems and you may face lockups, forcing reboots. The Local Computer Guy recommends defragging your hard drive on a regular basis.

To Defragment your hard drive(s) follow this procedure: START>(ALL) PROGRAMS>ACCESSORIES>SYSTEM TOOLS>DISK DEGRAGMENTER. This will bring up a window where you can select the drive that you wish to defrag. Once selected, you can click on ANALYZE and Windows will do its thing checking the drive for you. A little note will appear telling you whether or not you should do a disk defragment. If it recommends doing so, then click on DEFRAGMENT. If it says that you’re o.k., then click on CLOSE. This procedure should be performed monthly, weekly, or daily depending on how hard you work on your computer. There are some outstanding disk defragmenters on the market that can be set to constantly defrag your PC so you never have to think about it again.

Dust

Perhaps some areas of the world don’t have a lot of dust but here in northern Arizona, the inside of computers gather dust which needs to be removed every so often. The case must be opened and the dust blown out with pure compressed air. Focus especially on removing the dust from the fans and metal connectors. This is one of the first things The Local Computer Guy does when servicing a computer.

Cans of air are available at most places where computer parts are sold., There are at least two fans in your computer, one for the power supply and one for the CPU. Dust builds up on the blades of the fans and on the connectors between devices. If either of your fans stops working, your computer may become fried, literally. Also, CD-ROMs, DVD players, and floppy drives get dirty and must be cleaned. CDs can be ruined by a dirty CD-ROM. Cleaning discs for these are also available at most computer stores.

Spyware

Software, usually free, that poses as a helpful program or even “ad-ware” but actually installs files on your computer that watch and report your surfing and buying patterns to advertising providers is called spyware. These programs are illegal or barely legal and can slow your computer down, create lockups, and violate your privacy. Cleaning them off your computer is a complicated and serious procedure. There are some cleaners that help but none of them catches all of the offenders. One with a good track record is Ad-aware.

File corruption

Microsoft and other software makers are working on making software self-healing but there is a long way to go before we can all go about our business and have our PCs just hum gaily along forever. Sometimes it is necessary to ‘refresh’ some of your computer’s files. It may be as easy as reinstalling the application. Or the process may ‘break’ Internet connections or other functions. This is where having The Local Computer Guy have a look may be essential.

Working with The Local Computer Guy

Happy is the person whose computer continually functions with few or no problems. With the proper tools and a little care, you should be able to enjoy your computer time for many years to come. If you have any questions or doubts, give The Local Computer Guy a call.