March 8th, 2011 | Tags: , , | Category: Whisper Blog

Checklist for computer maintenance/care

They are all different, everyone has a different timeframe as to when to do what.  Why??  Because it all depends on how and how much you use your computer.  The objective is to keep a clean, lean, fast running computer.  You know, the way it was when you first got it home and setup.

The checklist is more of a reference or a starting point for you, the computer user, to refine and tweak.

For instance, I was in an auto parts store the other day looking for new wiper blades.  The package recommended changing wiper blades every 6 months.  Well at $15.00-18.00 each, you can bet I’ll check my wiper blades but doesn’t mean I’m going to replace them if they clean my windshield properly.  So it got me to thinking, under what conditions did the “powers that be” decide every 6 months.  Surely it must be different if you live in Maine vs. Florida, whether you keep your vehicle in your garage, etc.  How could the blades wear out the same in significantly different environments?  And maybe it doesn’t make a difference, but it drives the point that as individuals we may have to tweak what the “experts” tells us to better suit our specific environment.

So back to the check list.  How often should you scan? What software should you use to scan?  Should I defrag my hard drive?  And on and on it goes.

Let me pause to bring you this important announcement…..BACKUP YOUR DATA BEFORE SCANNING YOUR COMPUTER!  Of course I’m sure you backup your precious data on a regular basis.

There is lots of software to use for scanning and most of them are good tools, so it really boils down to personally preference.  But remember it takes more than one of these scanning tools to clean your machine.  Each one has its strengths.  One size does not fit all.  Usually these programs have settings for quick scans or thorough scans.  So there will be times when a quick scan will be the most appropriate setting.

It is also, all in the timing.  You could scan your computer and a new variant of spyware is released the next day…you could get infected.  And infected with one spyware or virus leaves even more vulnerable to other infections.  The flood gates are opening!

Guidelines for clean and lean computer

Every other day

Check antivirus software and virus definitions are up to date; this usually an icon in the bottom right hand of your screen.  Various ways to find this – hover your mouse cursor over it; double click on it; or right click and select open

Every 2 weeks

Make sure spyware/malware software is update; run a quick scan.  If only cookies found then no need to repeat.  If other items (Trojans, keyloggers, etc) are found, run again.  If scan is clean, you are done.  If not clean, boot into safemode and scan.  If you still can’t get a clean scan, if would be best to call an expert.

NOTE: don’t know about safe mode?  Just search the web and you will find plenty of instructions.

If 20 or less cookies found change schedule to once a month.

Run antivirus scan

Some antivirus programs also have spyware scanning so the same idea about cookies apply.  If viruses are found, scan again.  If you can’t get a clean scan after 2-3 scans, call an expert.

If no viruses found change to once a month.

Once a month

Check 3rd party apps for updates.  Adobe can be found by opening Adobe and click on HELP, CHECK FOR UPDATES.  Java and Flashplayer are set by default to check for updates.  Just don’t ignore the legitimate popup window for these programs.  You know the ones from the bottom right hand corner of your monitor.  For Flashplayer
This link will tell you your version and download if older

Every quarter

Shut computer down and power off all night, if you don’t do this already on a shorter schedule.
You can use the sample checklist to tweak your schedule for your needs.  For some, making tasks or adding to your calendar in Outlook will suit you better.

Sample checklist

Every Other Day

Task                                     Date Performed

Check antivirus
software &

Every 2 weeks

Task                                     Date Performed

Scan for viruses,

Once a month

Task                                     Date Performed

Check 3rd party apps
(Java, Adobe Reader,
Flashplayer, etc)

Once a Quarter

Task                                     Date Performed

Shutdown computer
& leave off all night

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