Computer Maintenance Guide | Process Street Computer Maintenance Guide – Process Street

Introduction:

From catching up on the latest in social media or news, to running your entire company, computers are here to stay. Incredible amounts of work and sensitive data is carried out by these machines every day both automatically and through human manipulation.

So what would happen if your computer broke down right this second?

Considering the mass hysteria which occurs when a large-scale computer failure such as Y2K was found, likely nothing good. The amount of time spent replacing the unit, or travelling to a working computer could seriously affect a person or company, and that's before factoring in the price of repairs or a new computer.

However, we here at Process Street love finding little tips and tricks to maximize your success and minimize the impact of when the proverbial hits the fan.

By running this computer maintenance guide every week, you can negate these potential disasters as much as humanly possible; you'll be taken through the best method for keeping your machine alive, from updating your software and security, to cleaning the dust out of your system (literally and figuratively).

Read on if you're ready to improve the lifespan and performance of your computer for free

Preparation:

Record general details about the maintenance

Before we start with the meat of the process, you need to ensure that all vital information is recorded in the form fields below for later reference.

This is primarily to ensure that you have a consistent record of when each computer last had maintenance run, along with the person who was responsible for that session.

If you wish to record more or different information, just add or edit the appropriate form fields.

General maintenance:

Update your Linux system

The first step is to update your system packages.

In Linux systems running Ubuntu, all you need to do is open the terminal and run this command:

 sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

You'll then want to perform a system reset to make sure all updates have been initiated.

As well as the operating system, you should make sure the following are also up to date and check them off in the form field below.

  • 1
    Security programs (firewall, antivirus, etc.)
  • 2
    Software (Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Java, etc.)
  • 3
    Plugins (Grammarly, Evernote Web Clipper, etc.)
  • 4
    Drivers (graphics drivers, sound drivers, etc.)

Update your macOS system

It's pretty easy to update your macOS system. We've outlined all of the steps in the sub-checklist down below, just check off each step as you go.

If you do not wish to update a specific item, you can also choose to update your programs one by one instead.

  • 1
    Open the App Store
  • 2
    Click on the Updates tab
  • 3
    Select "Update All"
  • 4
    Wait for the updates to finish
  • 5
    Perform system reset

Update your Windows system

To check for system updates on a Windows device, first load up your Settings app by either navigating to it from your start menu, then your "All apps" list, or by typing it into your search bar. The whole process is outlined below:

  • 1
    Open the Settings app
  • 2
    Click on Updates & Security
  • 3
    Click on Windows Update
  • 4
    Select "Install"
  • 5
    Wait for the updates to finish
  • 6
    Perform system reset

If your machine is running pre-Windows 10, all that changes is your navigation to Windows Update, which should be available through either a glance at the program list from the start menu, or by typing "Windows Update" into your search bar.

Clear out browser files in Chrome

Next up in the maintenance blitz is the task of clearing out unnecessary browser files.

We recommend that you at least clear your browsing history, download history, cache, and cookies for security best practice, and to ensure that nothing is clogging up your system or flagging you as a target for spam.

This will also help to improve the security of your system by getting rid of temporary files created by the sites you visit, but this will vary depending on your situation.

In any case, we've outlined the whole process for you here:

  • 1
    Open the Chrome Menu in the top-right of your browser
  • 2
    Click on "History"
  • 3
    Navigate to the "Clear Browsing Data" section
  • 4
    Specify the time period you want to erase
  • 5
    Click "Clear Browsing Data"

Clear out browser files in Firefox

The method to clearing your firefox files is simple; the whole process is clearly outlined in the sub-checklist below.

Most browsers have a similar method to clear their files, but if you're uncertain then look up the method to your particular browser.

For security reasons, we'd recommend you to at least clear your cookies and cached files, so that you're not at risk of being a spam or phishing target.

  • 1
    Open the "History" menu
  • 2
    Select "Clear Recent History"
  • 3
    (If the menu bar is hidden, press Alt to make it visible)
  • 4
    Select your desired timescale
  • 5
    Select which details you wish to erase
  • 6
    Click "Clear Now"

Clear out browser files in Safari

Now you're tasked with the clearing out of unnecessary browser files.

For security best practice, you should at least clear your browsing history, download history, cache, and cookies. This is to ensure that nothing is clogging up your system or flagging you as a target for spam.

We've done the job of outlining the whole process for you down below:

  • 1
    Open the Safari Menu
  • 2
    Select "Clear History and Website Data..."
  • 3
    Select the desired time range
  • 4
    Click "Clear History"

Configure your startup programs in Linux

Have you ever had the experience of sitting down to work in the morning, fresh and raring to go, only to find yourself stalled for 30 minutes as you wait for your computer to load up?

You'd be surprised how much of that can be cut down by simply configuring your startup programs.

Ubuntu is even easier than Windows or Mac, as all you need to do is the following :

  • 1
    Open the System app
  • 2
    Click on "Preferences"
  • 3
    Click on "Startup Applications"
  • 4
    Disable unnecessary startup applications

Configure your startup programs in macOS

Macs usually run programs which boot us when you log in, rather than when the system starts up - if you can't find the program you wish to deactivate in you Login Items, read this post by Joe Kissell to delve into the older Startup system.

Follow these steps to open up the "Login Items" menu and remove unwanted programs:

  • 1
    Open System Preferences
  • 2
    Select "Users & Groups"
  • 3
    Choose your username on the right
  • 4
    Select the "Login Items" tab
  • 5
    Check startup programs you want to remove
  • 6
    Press the “–” symbol to remove the program

Configure your startup programs in Windows

In Windows 10, you can choose your startup programs from your Task Manager. Either right-click your Start icon and select Task Manager or just hit Ctrl+Shift+Esc (a handy tip for if a full-screen program becomes unresponsive too).

From here, you can change the status of a startup program (enabled or disabled) by right-clicking on the item within the Task Manager. 

The full procedure is outlined in this sub-checklist:

  • 1
    Right click the Start icon
  • 2
    Select "Task Manager"
  • 3
    Select the program to be disabled
  • 4
    Right-click on the item
  • 5
    Change the status to "Disabled"

Security maintenance:

Run anti-malware in Linux

Your specific antivirus software may vary, but whatever it is, you should perform a complete system check. 

You can use the popular Linux-based anti-malware software ClamAV if you don't already have anything installed.

To install ClamAV, run the following in the terminal:

sudo apt install clamav clamtk

After that, update ClamAV's virus database with this command:

sudo freshclam

Don't forget to configure the "Settings" menu so that the following items are selected:

  • 1
    “Scan files beginning with a dot"
  • 2
    “Scan files larger than 20 MB"
  • 3
    “Scan directories recursively"

Now you're ready to start the system scan.

Select "Filesystem" from the main menu if you want to scan the whole system. Otherwise, specify which directory accordingly.

    • 1
      Return to the main menu
    • 2
      Select "Scan A Directory"
    • 3
      Select the directory that you want to check

    ClamAV will give you the option to either delete or quarantine the threats it has found after the scan is complete.

    Make sure you're not interfering with critical system files before you delete or move anything.

    Run anti-malware in macOS

    Macs, and the macOS operating system they use, contain the security vulnerabilities as real as any Windows machine. As such, you should be running regular anti-malware scans on the system.

    With whatever antivirus software that is installed on the machine, perform a full system check.

    After the check, you'll want to deal with any threats the software has detected by removing or quarantining them.

    • 1
      Open the antivirus program
    • 2
      Perform a full system check
    • 3
      Quarantine or erase any detected threats

    Run anti-malware in Windows

    Next on our list of security measures in the IT support process to open and run whatever antivirus program is installed on the machine.

    Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is completely free and does the job splendidly; head to their site and download it now if there's nothing else installed already.

    Once you have Malwarebytes (or your program of choice), run it and make sure that your entire system is included in the scan.

    This can also take a hefty chunk of time depending on the size of your system, so make sure you factor that in and inform your client or whoever is waiting on the maintenance.

    • 1
      Open the antivirus program
    • 2
      Run a full system check
    • 3
      Quarantine or erase any detected threats

    Finally, erase or quarantine any threats which are detected.

    Hardware maintenance:

    Inspect computer parts for damage

    Computers consist of working hardware parts, and as well as their software components, the hardware must be regularly checked and inspected for faults or irregularities.

    Using the sub-checklist in this task, inspect each component carefully and record what you find across the various form fields. 

    • 1
      Check monitor for dead pixels
    • 2
      Check computer accessories for damage (keyboard, mouse, etc.)
    • 3
      Check case for damage
    • 4
      Check fans operating correctly
    • 5
      Check RAM is installed correctly

    Forward maintenance report of repairs needed

    If you've got faulty or damaged parts, you'll need to make sure they're replaced ASAP. Even if you're doing the repairs yourself, you'll need to let management and accounting know about the parts needed and the inventory updates.

    We've planned ahead and done the dirty work for you - the results of your maintenance report so far have been collected together in this useful little email widget.

    All you need to do is check that the information there is all correct, and hit "Send".

    Clean your keyboard and mouse

    It's easy to forget about the cleanliness of two of the most important and heavily-touched parts of the computer system: the keyboard and mouse.

    Both of these components can be easily cleaned with compressed air. Make use of the fine nozzle on the can to get into the nooks and crannies of your keyboard and mouse to blow out any residing dust or grime.

    Laptops can be especially prone to gummed-up keyboards due to their portable nature, so take extra care if cleaning a laptop keyboard.

    • 1
      Apply compressed air beneath the keys of the keyboard
    • 2
      Clean the keyboard with antibacterial wipes
    • 3
      Clean the mouse with antibacterial wipes

    Whatever you do, never use a vacuum cleaner to clean your physical components. The potential damage to a keyboard or mouse is small, however it's best to break the habit before moving on to cleaning your tower, as the static generated by a vacuum cleaner can damage your electrical components.

    Dust the computer unit

    Dust can seriously affect the performance of a computer, especially if it clogs the fans.

    Towers or laptop cases can be easily dusted down with a dry, clean cloth, but remember to stay away from any electrical components to avoid static damage. If you can see that your desktop fan is gummed up with dust, spray a little compressed air to dislodge it (after making sure your machine is off first).

    • 1
      Make sure machine is turned off
    • 2
      Clean the exterior of the tower with anti static cloth
    • 3
      Dislodge dust in the fan with compressed air

    Organize your cables

    The final stage in the physical side of your computer maintenance is to organize the jungle of cables going to and from your machine.

    Use velcro ties to tie your cables together and keep them out of the way. If your desk has holes for your cables to go into you can take this one step further and tie them together inside your desk to hide them from sight.

    This will both make your workstation look a lot better, and make it far less likely for you (or anyone walking near your computer) to trip over a cable and break either a piece of equipment or a bone.

    • 1
      Make sure cables are organized by colour and function
    • 2
      Make sure no cables are obstructing access to the machine
    • 3
      Make sure no cables are obstructing access to the workspace
    • 4
      Make sure all cables are in good condition

    Software maintenance:

    Run disk cleanup in macOS

    It's always a good idea to factor in and run your disk cleanup program as part of a routine maintenance.

    Disk cleanup, when not performed regularly, can take a while to complete, but you can keep the scan time down to a minimum by running it every time you're doing regular maintenance.

    This will essentially remove all junk and temporary files on your computer, akin to earlier when we deleted our browsing history and cache.

    See the video below by Meditational State for a quick guide on disk cleanup in your Mac. The process is outlined in the sub-tasks here:

    • 1
      Open the Finder window
    • 2
      Select "Go" in the menu bar
    • 3
      Click on “Go to Folder…”
    • 4
      Type in "~/Library/Caches"
    • 5
      Delete the files/folders that are taking up the most space
    • 6
      Click on “Go to Folder…”
    • 7
      Type in "/Library/Caches" (note the lack of "~")
    • 8
      Delete the folders that take up the most space

    Run disk cleanup in Windows

    To perform a disk cleanup on Windows, start by searching "Disk Cleanup" in the Search Bar and clicking the resulting program.

    Select the drive you wish to clean up, then click "OK".

    Disk Cleanup will then run on your chosen drive, presenting you with the options of what you can delete.

    For the whole process, just follow these sub-tasks and you'll have your disc cleaned up in no time at all:

    • 1
      Open the Search Bar
    • 2
      Type "Disk Cleanup"
    • 3
      Press the "Enter" key
    • 4
      Select which drive you want to run Disk Cleanup on
    • 5
      Select which files you want to delete
    • 6
      Click "OK"
    • 7
      Click "Delete Files"

    Defragment the hard drive in Windows

    Defragmenting your drives isn't something the average user thinks to do, but can pay huge dividends if done regularly - it's time to make sure that you're not the average user and defragment your drives.

    You can defragment your drives on Windows by typing "Defragment and Optimize Drives" into your search bar and selecting the resulting program.

    With the program loaded you need to analyze each and every drive on the list by selecting it and clicking "Analyze".

    If any come back with the slightest level of fragmentation, that particular drive will need to be optimized (which is another way of saying "Defragmented").

    • 1
      Open the Search Bar
    • 2
      Type "Defragment and Optimize Drives"
    • 3
      Hit the "Enter" key
    • 4
      Select a drive
    • 5
      Click "Analyze"
    • 6
      If the results indicate the drive is fragmented, click "Optimize"

    Empty the recycle bin

    This one is hardly rocket science, but remembering to empty the recycle bin regularly can work wonders for keeping your machine running smoothly.

    Emptying the recycle bin is one of the few processes that is pretty much the same on nearly every operating system with a graphical user interface. The only difference is what the different systems choose to call the icon.

    For Windows, it's "Recycle Bin", for macOS users it's "Trash", and for Linux (Ubuntu) it's the "Rubbish Bin".

    Just right click on your recycle bin icon from the desktop and select "Empty".

    Uninstall unused programs in Linux

    Every little helps, and even when not in use an abundance of programs can clog up your computer's processing power - now you've got to uninstall any programs which aren't used or needed anymore.

     On Ubuntu systems, the Synaptic Package Manager can  be launched from the command line by entering the following:

    sudo synaptic &

    Otherwise, follow this file path to open the GUI Package Management Tool, which allows you to remove unwanted software packages:

    • 1
      Open the System menu
    • 2
      Go to "Administration"
    • 3
      Open "Synaptic Package Manager"

    Now just select any package you wish to be rid of and click on "Mark for Removal".

    • 1
      Selected package marked for removal

    Uninstall unused programs in macOS

    To remove an app from your Mac, all you need to do is drag the application in question to your Trash and then empty the bin.

    • 1
      Open the Applications folder
    • 2
      Move the application to the Trash
    • 3
      Empty the Trash

    Uninstall unused programs in Windows

    To uninstall an unnecessary program within Windows, type "Programs and Features" into your search bar, or follow this path:

    • 1
      Open the Control Panel
    • 2
      Select "Programs"
    • 3
      Select "Programs and Features"

    From this screen you can sort your installed programs by criteria such as date installed, size and when it was last used.

    To uninstall a program:

    • 1
      Select the program you wish to uninstall
    • 2
      Click on "Uninstall"

    Reboot your system to complete the computer maintenance

    All that's left is for you to restart your computer one final time to apply any necessary updates or configurations.

    As well as finalizing any updates or software changes, this will also provide hard evidence as to the effects of your maintenance efforts.

    For example, after this final reboot, pay attention to your new system boot time; if you have disabled any number of startup programs or even just removed a chunk of temporary files, you should be able to see a noticeable improvement already in the setup time.

    • 1
      Reboot your computer
    • 2
      Record the startup time
    • 3
      Compare the startup time to the last maintenance
    • 4
      Consider potential improvements on this maintenance process

    Congratulations, your routine computer maintenance checklist is complete.

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