Maintaining Your Computer
Maintaining your computer means:
– Receiving updates when available
– Checking for problems and fixing them
Receiving updates when available.
Windows Update keeps Windows updated but what about all those 3rd party programs?
Most programs have built-in update scheduler that will eventually update themselves. I prefer to install updates (especially security related) when available. There are 2 programs I recommend for this; Secunia PSI and Ninite Updater. I use the default schedule of weekly for Secunia and daily for Ninite.
The Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a free computer security solution that identifies vulnerabilities in non-Microsoft (third-party) programs which can leave your PC open to attacks. Simply put, it scans software on your system and identifies programs in need of security updates to safeguard your PC against cybercriminals. It then supplies your computer with the necessary software security updates to keep it safe. The Secunia PSI even automates the updates for your insecure programs, making it a lot easier for you to maintain a secure PC.
This is an excellent, free program. However, it only shows you what needs updating and provides download links.
Ninite Updater is one of the few pay-for programs I recommend. Current price is $10 and IMHO is worth every penny. It covers fewer programs than does Secunia PSI but it downloads and installs the programs it supports.
All software updaters tell you when new versions are available. With Ninite Updater it’s just one step to automatically download and install all your updates in the background. Other updaters just give you links to installers which you need to download and run by hand for each and every app.
Checking for problems and fixing them
Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Administrative Tools
If you want to know what’s going on with your computer this is THE place. Almost everything you need to diagnose PC problems is here, as well as tools to keep things running smooth.
The sections of use to most home users are:
Computer Management – Perform many tasks, such as monitoring system events, configuring hard disks, and managing system performance.
Defragment and Optimize Drives – Change settings or manually run defrag or trim.
Disk Cleanup – Standard and advanced disk cleaning options.
Event Viewer – View information about significant events, such as a program starting or stopping, or a security error, which are recorded in event logs.
Performance Monitor – View advanced system information about the cpu, memory, hard disk, and network performance.
Resource Monitor – Find out what’s running and more.
Services – Manage the different services that run in the background on your computer.
System Configuration – Most folks know this as msconfig. Change boot options, etc.
System Information – Very detailed info on your PC.
Task Scheduler – Schedule programs or other tasks to run automatically.
I’ve got a secret, when folks ask me to work on their computer because it’s “acting funny”, or “it’s gotten slow”, or “I think I have a virus”. This is the first place I go. Often I can trace where the issue started right here.
“Reliability Monitor is an advanced tool that measures hardware and software problems and other changes to your computer. It provides a stability index that ranges from 1 (the least stable) to 10 (the most stable). You can use the index to help evaluate the reliability of your computer. Any change you make to your computer or problem that occurs on your computer affects the stability index.” source
To open Reliability Monitor, press the Windows + R keys and type perfmon /rel then press Enter.
Go to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Security and Maintenance > expand Maintenance > click View reliability history.
Go to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Administrative Tools\Event Viewer
press the Windows + R keys and type eventvwr then press Enter.
“Event logs are special files that record significant events on your computer, such as when a user logs on to the computer or when a program encounters an error. Whenever these types of events occur, Windows records the event in an event log that you can read by using Event Viewer. Advanced users might find the details in event logs helpful when troubleshooting problems with Windows and other programs.” source
When you have a question about an error a Google search is your best bet to find info and answers.
Find Start and Shutdown times and errors.
Event viewer > Application and Service logs > Microsoft > Windows > Diagnostics-Performance > Operational
Generate a system health report
This is the one stop problem finding shop.
Generate a report detailing the status of local hardware resources, system response times, and processes on the local computer along with system information and configuration data. This report includes suggestions for ways to maximize performance and streamline system operation. Membership in the local Administrators group, or equivalent, is the minimum required to run this Data Collector Set.
Press the Windows + R keys > type perfmon press enter > expand Data Collector Sets > expand System > right-click System Diagnostics, choose Start. Report will be generated in 60 seconds. Expand Reports > expand System Diagnostics > choose report.
Task Manager is an extremely useful tool. To open Task Manager > press the Windows + X keys > choose Task Manager. To get a full view, click the More details arrow.
The Processes tab allows you to view and kill running processes.
The Performance tab. Click Open Resource Monitor for the nitty-gritty details.
App history shows the details of Metro apps. Here is proof that if you don’t use them they aren’t using resources.
The Startup tab shows you what starts with Windows and offers a way to disable them.
The Services tab shows what services are running (and not). You can right-click the particular service to stop or start it. You’ll have to click Open Services to configure it.