Instant Reference Guide to PC Maintenance

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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.

...Every Day

Every day: Scan for viruses.
Every day: Scan for viruses.
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.

...Every Week

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.

Every week: Run Windows Update.
Every week: Run Windows Update.
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.

...Every Month

Every month: Check for driver updates.
Every month: Check for driver updates.
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.

...Every Year

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.

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