Infrastructure // Networking
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11/16/2005
02:39 PM
Fred Langa
Fred Langa
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Langa Letter: A Complete PC Maintenance Checklist

Fred Langa offers a comprehensive plan for keeping your PC in absolute top-notch condition.

Thwack! That was the sound of me slapping myself in the forehead.

It happened the other day, while I was working through the normal monthly maintenance on my primary PC. Everything was going smoothly; routine maintenance tends to prevent many problems from developing in the first place; and can catch any others when they're small and easy to correct.

I'll admit I'm a bit of a fanatic about maintenance because I depend on my PC to make a living; I probably go further than most people would need or want to. But odds are you use a PC at work or in a home office or recreationally, and the smooth, trouble-free operation of your PC is either essential to getting your work done, or is an important part of your after-hours life. Some level of routine PC preventative maintenance would be good for your PC, too. That's why we've covered many of the separate steps and techniques of PC maintenance in this space and in my newsletter.

But the "thwack" moment came when I realized I'd never stitched all the pieces together into a comprehensive whole for you -- I'd never itemized the steps in checklist form to make it easy for you to select exactly which maintenance steps you want to follow, and when. Let me correct that oversight today.

In this article, I'll tell you all the maintenance steps I take on a daily, weekly, monthly, semiannual, and annual basis.

You may not need all the steps I take, and that's perfectly fine. You can "cherry-pick" the ideas, techniques, and tools that best fit your own preferences, to create your own PC maintenance checklist. Or, if you rely heavily on your PC, you may wish to adapt my full task list to your own unique situation -- or even expand upon it!.

In any case, with the right level of routine maintenance, maybe you'll be able to avoid a "thwack" moment of your own!

The Foundation Steps
Because this article is about maintaining a PC rather than repairing one, we'll assume that your PC is in reasonable shape to begin with, and not suffering from major malfunctions, hangs, slow operations, and so on.

On the other hand, if your PC is in need of repair or basic setup, you can solve those problems by searching the how-to information available at InformationWeek.com, including: "System Setup Secrets For Windows XP," "10 Ways To Make Windows XP Run Better," and "10 More Ways To Make Windows XP Run Better ."My newsletter site also contains related materials.

Once your PC is basically OK, you can then keep it that way with the routine maintenance we'll discuss in a moment.

In the same vein, because this article is about keeping your PC running right rather than fixing major, pre-existing problems, we'll further assume your PC isn't infected with viruses, worms, or other malware; and is well-protected by defensive software.

If you need to beef up your PC security and resolve any existing infections, you can do so with tools such as a desktop firewall (Sygate or ZoneAlarm, etc.) and an antivirus tool (Symantec/Norton, NOD32, or AVG); and one or more anti-malware tool, as long as the tools don't "fight" each other for control (MS Antispyware, SpywareBlaster, StartUpMonitor, WinPatrol, AdAware, or Spybot S&D.

If you need more information on setting up good software defenses, see "How Much Protection Is Enough?" and "Software Suites Versus Standalone Tools."

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