Over the course of a year your computer undoubtedly suffers wear and tear from use, and there aren’t many better ways to start off the new year than to clean it up so it runs at peak performance!

Step 1: Back-up
As reliable and useful as they are, computers are not infallible, and they do break down. Backing up information and data prepares you for any catastrophe so that you lose a minimal amount of work in the event that your system fails. Windows has a back-up manager included, and many more can be found online.

Step 2: Monitor Machine Health
The hard drive is the hardest working part of a computer, and while each part has an important function to the performance of the machine, the hard drive is probably the most important. Using both a physical health scanner (a SMART subsystem) and a logical health scanner, which is the chkdsk process on Windows machines, you can evaluate whether or not your hard drive needs to be retired.

Step 3: Patching/Updating Software
Despite the fact we will never have a perfect computer, we continue to make our systems and programs better, and for both security and performance reasons, it’s wise to update your files often. Now, for some people (AKA myself) you do this every day. But not everyone has that much time on their hands. But automating the process can also mean inconvenient system reboots, so it is best to set aside time to do it all at once every so often, or just update your files as you need to access them. Most update histories for programs can be found on their website, while some allow you to check for updates in the settings menu. Windows itself has an update checker that can be found in the control panel.

Step 4: Check Security
I won’t dwell on this for long but it is no less important than the others. Make sure that your passwords are up to date and strong, and update your antivirus programs so that they are protecting your machine from any malware or hacking attempts.

Step 5: Optimization
Lastly, use a program like CCleaner to clean up your temp files and defrag your drive(s) so that any unused space is clear and so that the drive is running as fast as possible.

~Chris Watson, Technical Intern