10 PC maintenance tasks for ‘back to school’

The maintenance of a PC has many advantages and should be done regularly, but probably in the battle of the ‘day to day’ we have not been able to devote time to it Now is a good timeNow is a good time to start your summer holidays and you are probably preparing for the ‘back to school’ by resuming the routine of work or study.

PC maintenance

Our main computer tool needs a series of care to increase its useful life, ranging from updating the hardware when necessary to physical cleaning. Another type of  “cleaning” is dedicated to the software section and it is convenient to dedicate time to it from time to time because it contributes to great benefits in terms of efficiency, performance, security, and usability.

We remind you of what we consider to be the main ones focused on Windows systems, although many of them are generally suitable for Linux and Mac.

1.- Make data backups

The tasks of backup are one of the preferred actions in the maintenance of a PC and should be performed (or better automated) by any professional or consumer to safeguard your data. A computer can fail at any time, by a hardware problem in any of its components such as the storage unit or memories, in the system software and applications or by a virus that deletes files or prevents access to the computer such as Ransomware.

The loss of our professional or personal files can have a great cost and sometimes without possible recovery, hence its importance. We recommend you to start here the technical stop before you have to regret it. System, applications and the hardware itself can be recovered, but data cannot.

2.- Update the operating system

The operating system is the software foundation of our computer and we must ensure that it is updated to the latest stable build or at least has the latest security patches installed. If we use older versions, we run a higher risk of being attacked through unpatched vulnerabilities.

All operating systems can be updated automatically or manually. Microsoft systems use Windows Update as an internal tool and the Microsoft Update Catalog for manual installation of specific security updates or rollup packages.

3.- Check and increase security

Other tasks included in PC maintenance involve scanning for malware and disinfecting if necessary. Start by scanning your computer with the security application you have installed, including external hard drives or pen drives that you also use regularly because they are often a path of infection.

For persistent malware, hidden in the system, there is nothing better than using ⤽Live CD/USB⤠solutions, created on removable drives and with the ability to self-boot without interfering with the installed operating system. They are known as ⤽antivirus rescue⤠and work on any computer. These external media are excellent, as they do not penalize performance and make it possible to pre-empt the loading of viruses or Trojans into memory, making it difficult to remove them. All providers offer free solutions of this type and we strongly recommend them, in addition to having a security solution loaded on the system.

pC maintenance

4.- Update applications and drivers

Just as important as updating the operating system is updating the applications. The new versions of the applications that we have installed will offer more performance and stability in most cases. In addition, malware has a preferred method of infection by taking advantage of software vulnerabilities. We should pay special attention to that group of critical applications that we use on a daily basis and that are the most attacked, such as web browsers and their extensions and plug-ins, office applications or others such as Java or Adobe Flash that has been attacked for two decades and that still runs on the Internet.

The same goes for driver updates. In addition to security, we will gain stability, compatibility and also performance, especially with graphics card drivers that are updated for almost every major new game that is released.

5.- Change your passwords

Completing the security section, you can take the opportunity to renew the passwords to access your computer and services, an important issue that should be done regularly and that we do not do. We continue to break all the basic rules for their creation and maintenance and all reports reveal that the most used passwords are old acquaintances and a bargain for cybercriminals.

In recent years the industry has proposed biometric systems and features such as two-factor passwords that we must enable on all supported services. But until they are fully extended, passwords will continue to be the most used method and for their creation we have to look for long and complex passwords, and combine non-alphanumeric characters, upper and lower case. Another recommended option is to use password managers that do the work on their own, protect our identity and save us from having to create and remember multiple passwords.

6.- Remove programs you don’t use

You probably have a good number of applications that you no longer use. And if you use Windows, and you didn�t clean it up in its day, a good amount of junk applications from the Bloatware that Microsoft and the manufacturers punish us with. All of them together penalize performance, stability, user experience and even security.

Before the ‘back to school’ is a good time to remove these programs that are taking up memory and storage and surely slowing down its operation. All operating systems include a function to uninstall programs. In Windows 10 or 11 from the control panel or the general Settings tool.

7. Reduce Startup Load

Windows operating systems have a system configuration function called  “msconfig”, which in addition to advanced services, allows us to select the applications that are loaded at startup, reducing the load on the computer and improving its performance. You can access it with the command name, “msconfig”, from the run function. In Windows 10 and 11, you can use the ‘task manager’ to manage startup items.

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8.- Turn on system restore

Windows has a system recovery tool that can ⤽save our lives⤠in the event of a software error, the entry of a virus in our computer or the simple installation of drivers or an application that does not work properly and sometimes destabilizes the operating system.

This utility saves the files and main configuration of the operating system, settings, drivers, registry keys or installed programs, and in case of errors allows you to revert the changes made and return to a previous state where the system worked correctly. The operation and management of this feature is basically the same in all Windows systems (7, 8.1 and 10) and is very useful for any user when the system does not work well or does so erroneously.

9.- In Windows 10 and Windows 11 watch out for privacy

The privacy of Windows 10 remains one of the most controversial issues of this operating system, although Microsoft has been improving transparency and control in successive updates since an initial terrifying configuration and that aroused a barrage of criticism for the massive collection of data. Windows 11, in this field, aims in the same way.

The privacy options in Windows 10 have improved substantially since the first versions and start from the same installation. If you didn’t do it at the time, you should take a good look at this guide. And if you are looking for more control than what the internal tools offer you, you can use third-party applications like Privatezilla (free and open source) that in addition to managing the typical privacy components, also offers options against bloatware.

10.- Clean the registry (carefully)

Advanced users can perform tasks that go beyond regular maintenance, but -knowing what to do- can offer advantages. The registry is a database where Windows stores software, hardware, settings and user information, and completely controls how a PC works, looks, component behavior or access to features. The Windows 10 registry increases in size with the mere use of the operating system, the installation/uninstallation of applications or any hardware components we add or replace.

It is not unusual for all of this to slow down the computer or leave traces of faulty or corrupt entries and inconsistencies that detract from the user experience and cause everything from minor bugs to major failures. The industry offers free applications to “clean” this registry. You have to be very careful with them, but they can be effective in the right hands, backed up in case something goes wrong.

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Don’t procrastinate. These maintenance tasks to tune up your PC are a great investment to avoid headaches and loss of time or money in the future, with direct benefits in performance, stability and security.

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