Checklist for Spring Cleaning Your Computer

I was speaking with a friend the other day about the fact that most of us have a schedule to do the things that we typically need to do – whether it be an annual physical, changing the batteries in our smoke detectors or having a tune-up for our cars. What we may be a little more lax In doing is scheduling our computers for their annual check-up.

This spring, make a commitment to those hard working devices by going through this checklist. Your computer will thank you by being perkier and less sluggish – a sort of rite of spring, CPU style.

√ Operating System Updates
There is a reason these updates are important. They provide patches or fixes that are important for the functioning of your operating system, browsers and even some applications. While it may be difficult to decipher the protocol for the average non-techy user, you can rest assured the importance of having the updates is supported by IT professionals.

√ Security Profile
Wouldn’t it be nice if all of the collective brain power that is used by hackers to infiltrate various databases and cause harm would instead be harnessed for something good, like World Peace? Operating System patches often cover security vulnerabilities, particularly in Browser security gaps. As you are doing your OS updates, make sure that those published to enhance your security receive your attention as well. While you are at it, you may also want to review your security settings on your email and social networking sites to make sure you have the appropriate security posture to ward off the bad guys.

√ Anti-Virus – Your System’s Flu Shot
No matter how diligent you may be, you may click on an attachment or be on a website where one of the bad guys has loaded a Trojan or some other form of Virus. At a minimum, make sure you have Anti-Virus software installed and that scans are set to run automatically. Yes, I know they can sometimes slow things down, but schedule scans to run when you are less likely to be actively working on your computer. This is especially important for your more mobile devices. And, though you have AV on and running, be aware that some bad things can still sneak through the perimeter. Continue vigilance to is critical.

√ Spyware, Adware and Malware Detection and Removal
Typically, a less virulent form of infection can come into your PC in the form of spyware, adware or the more general term, Malware. A spyware infestation can create significant unwanted processor activity, disk usage, and network traffic. A machine with malware problems may experience stability issues, such as applications freezing and failure to boot or other systemic crashes. Spyware, which interferes with networking software, commonly causes difficulty connecting to the Internet. There are various detection and removal programs, but be cautious. Some of them may exacerbate a problem and even introduce rogue malware.

√ Disk Optimization
Computers, like some people, seem to slow down as they age. The compilation of Internet and applications history and vestiges of applications and files litter your harddisk – it is like a bookstore with no organization to tell you where the book you are looking for is shelved. Running an optimization program essentially consolidates files together, creating an index so that unused space is freed up and files are more appropriately sorted. Using disk optimization and defragmentation programs on a regular basis to get the most bang for your disk buck.

√ See A Specialist
Just as we may for ourselves and our cars, seeing a specialist for your computer check up can go a long way to detect, isolate and inoculate problems before they become a crisis. I wouldn’t perform surgery on myself, so why would I do that on my computer? Develop a strong working relationship with a computer professional to help keep your computer running optimally.