As the new term gets underway another menacing trojan has hit the web so we decided now is a good time to take a look at how regular maintainance can help protect your PC and  keep it working faster and longer.  Try these for starters:

PCS

Scan with anti-spyware and anti-virus protection

When was the last time you left your keys in the front door and headed off to the pub?  Not often I guess,  but many people leave their PC vulnerable to attack.  Without good protection, viruses, spyware, adware, keyloggers, trojans, pop-up generators and so on are free to infiltrate your PC. These malicious little devils can even swipe your personal information and takeover of your PC. 

Solution:  Protect yourself by using anti-spyware, or anti-virus software. The best products offer “ active protection which block incoming malware that try to download while you work.   The best security products on the market will provide automatic updates and protect you against emerging threats, the latest being the phishing trojan Zeus.

De-clutter your hard drive 

Unnecessary extra files and programs left on your PC eat up disk space and resources.  By routinely decluttering, you can help your PC perform better.

Solution:  Most of this cleaning you can do yourself by making good use of the Recycle Bin, you can also speed up your PC by removing unused programmes too.  To do this in Windows 7 and most other Windows operating systems, go to Control Panel and, under Programs, select Uninstall a program.  For the more adventurous you can also use software to do more cleaning.   These programs such as PC Health Advisor get rid of your temporary and duplicate files as well as scrub away your internet browsing history and cached information, which protects your privacy and improves browser performance.   

Clean your Windows registry

Has your computer slowed down since new?  A familiar and irritating problem that may well be down to an unstable or corrupted registry.  Robin Wark at Parentollogic, says: "The Windows registry is a large, complex database that contains the settings and preferences of your PC. This registry is crucial to the operation of your PC, but it can grow large and unstable over time." This instability and corruption impacts on performance, as does corruption.    The "orphaning of registry keys," are created every time a new programmes uninstall. 

Solution: Regularly clean your registry with programs such as AVS Registry Cleaner or Registryfix (which we have tried on 32 bit machines) and PC Health Adviser also has a registry checker that you may consider.  It is always possible to attempt to clean the registry yourself, but we don't recommend it, one wrong move can prove to be very destructive.

Use disk defragmenter

A simple, but often highly effective fix to speed up your PC is a good old fashioned hard disk defrag.  Oddly, when files are saved to disk parts of the information are saved in different locations. In a nutshell when the computer searches a file it may need to go all the way to the end of the disk, which slows things down.   The disk defragmenter puts this right by reuniting data in one place.

Solution: In Windows 7, the disk defragmenter it can be found by going to the Start menu, select All Programs, click Accessories, then System Tools and click Disk Defragmenter.

Stop unwanted programs

When you put a new program on your PC some of them install themselves so that they boot up at stat up.  These greedy programmes   hog resources which may slow your PC down unecessarily.  "When your PC launches, several programs and processes start, however, you might not need, for example,  your media player to be ready you as soon as you first boot up." says Robin Wark.  Basically,  you can improve your computer's startup times by stopping unwanted programs like these from launching in the first place.

Solution: Newbies beware, but this can be done by hitting  the windows key and r at the same time, typing msconfig and then  enter.  You can now, click the startup tab and uncheck the boxes next to whatever you want to disable.  We have to issue a friendly warning here, please be careful what you disable and what you leave running as some programs need to run from start up!!

Keep everything updated

To work properly your PC constantly needs the latest information. By checking for Windows updates, security solution updates, program updates and new drivers, you can maintain protection, performance and stability.

Solution: As device driver updates occur frequently it can be help to use software to help track down new drivers.   There are many on the market, such as driverdetective or parent logics drivercure

Finally, we shouldn’t forget some basic cleaning that, if fotgotten, can reduce the life of your PC.   Especially with lap tops, if the keyboard or screen gets damaged it could be a right-off so take a note of these:

  • Food and drink and PC’s don’t mix, and unless you  want sticky keys is best avoided
  • Wipe the case of the computer components with a damp (not wet), lint-free cloth
  • Use a lint-free cloth or Swiffer-like duster to clean your video display. Stay away from paper towels, which can scratch the liquid crystal display (LCD).
  • On  a desk-top use cotton swabs to clean around ports, vents and fans so that air can circulate and cool the PC

We don’t have to tell you how important computer’s are to us in this interactive multimedia age, but by following these few simple routines  we hope that you will dramatically increase your PC’s performance and save some money by making your PC last that bit longer too.