Things to Do
Like your car, your PC benefits from regular upkeep. But you don't need a mechanic to maintain your computer--you can easily do it yourself. Put it through this routine of simple checks and updates to keep it humming.
Update your virus definitions: Viruses spread within hours, so keeping your antivirus software up-to-date is essential.
Do an incremental backup: Making a copy of files that have changed since your last full backup is quick and easy.
Reboot when programs crash: Failed applications can cause other programs to falter. Restart your system after every crash to clear it out.
Perform a full virus scan: Find anything nasty hiding on your system by regularly scheduling a total scan.
Do a complete backup: Better safe than sorry. A backup of all of your data will help you recover if your drive fails.
Run Windows Update: Get the latest patches from Microsoft to secure your system, by running this from the Start menu.
Run a spyware-and-adware removal program: A tool like Spybot Search & Destroy can quickly find and remove sneaky spyware.
Update your programs: To make your apps more stable, check for vendors' software updates or visit a site such as VersionTracker.
Check for new drivers: Installing the latest drivers for your devices can help speed up and stabilize your PC.
Use a one-click utility-suite checkup program: A utility suite (like those reviewed this month) can give your system a thorough checkup.
Clean out your PC case: Use a vacuum cleaner to carefully clear out the dust that collects in a case and can clog up the fans.
Spring-clean your programs: If your PC seems sluggish and bloated, make a full backup and then use the restore CD to return the system to its original state.
Conduct a full diagnostic check: A hardware-diagnostic program can test your equipment and track down faulty components before they fail completely.