Tuning up your PC is a recommended task that you should perform from time to time to avoid future problems and maximize the useful life of the equipment. Once the summer vacations are coming to an end and you are probably preparing for ‘back to school’ by resuming your work or study routine, it is a good time to do it.
How to tune up your PC
The PC is an essential tool for work and leisure, but like any electronic device it needs regular maintenance to avoid problems in the future and maximize its service life. And it pays to spend time on it from time to time because it brings great benefits in terms of efficiency, performance, safety and user experience.
We remind you of the maintenance tasks that we consider the main ones, both in software and hardware, together with the necessary external and internal “cleaning”. We focus on Windows systems, but most of them are of a general nature and are equally useful for Linux and Mac.
Update your operating system
The operating system is the software base of our computer and we must ensure that it is updated to the most recent stable build or at least that it has the latest published 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. If you prefer, you can use the Microsoft Update Catalog for manual installation of specific security updates or cumulative packages.
Another task included in the maintenance of a PC involves the search for malware and disinfection if necessary. Start by scanning the computer with the security application you have installed, including in the operation external hard disks or pen drives that you also use regularly because they are often a route 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 self-booting capability without interfering with the installed operating system. They are known as “rescue antivirus” and work on any computer. These external media are excellent, as they do not penalize performance and make it possible to anticipate the loading of viruses or Trojans into memory, making it difficult to remove them.
Completing the security section, you can take the opportunity to renew the access passwords to your computer and services, an important matter that should be done regularly and that we do not do. We continue to fail to comply with 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.
Protect your data
Backing up (Backup) is another essential task to tune up your PC and should be performed on a regular and scheduled basis (or better automated) by any professional or consumer who wants to safeguard their data. A computer can fail at any time, due to 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 and sometimes losing them can be a tragedy.
Update applications and drivers
As important as updating the operating system are to do the same with the applications. The new versions of the ones we have installed will offer more performance and stability in most cases. In addition, malware has a preferred method of infection by exploiting 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’s Flash that has been attacked for two decades and still runs on the Internet.
The same can be said for driver updates. In addition to the security section, we will gain stability, compatibility and also performance, especially with graphics card drivers that are updated almost for every major new game that is released.
Remove programs you don’t use
It is likely that you have a good number of applications or games that you no longer use. And if you use Windows and you did not clean it in its day you will have a good amount of junk applications coming from the Bloatware with which Microsoft and the manufacturers “punish” us. All of them together penalize performance, stability, user experience and even security.
Before ‘back to school’ is a good time to remove these programs that are taking up memory and storage and surely slowing down your performance. All operating systems include a program uninstall function. In Windows 10 or 11 from the control panel or the general Settings tool. And if you want a ‘clean’ Windows from the ground up, there are also third-party tools to do this.
Take care of your batteries
Batteries are essential components for the operation of any device in mobility, as they are the ones that allow us to use them without relying on power networks that are not always accessible. Their care and maintenance is vital to maximize their autonomy and performance, as well as to maximize their useful life. If your main computing tool is a laptop, it is an element to take care of.
Although batteries are expendable components that do not last forever as they wear out with each charging and recharging cycle and lose capacity, there are a number of care to try to minimize this wear, retain most of its capacity for longer, increase autonomy and also extend its life.
Activate 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 it allows to revert the changes made and return to a previous state where the system was working 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 works erratically.
Keeps you from being spied on (as much as possible).
100% privacy in such a connected world is simply impossible, but we also don’t have to make it easy for those who deal with our data. And it is an obsession since monitoring and telemetry is a common practice in all major software vendors. Windows included.
Microsoft has been improving transparency and control in successive Windows 10 updates since an initial terrifying setup and one that aroused a barrage of criticism for massive data collection. The privacy options in Windows 11 are – at least – more transparent, but data collection persists. If you’re looking for more control than the internal tools offer, you can use third-party apps like the free and open source DoNotSpy11.
Value upgrading hardware
Time passes inexorably, also for our personal computers. We run out of storage space or memory; the computer gets too hot or too noisy; it takes forever to boot up or run software; it disconnects from Wi-Fi; it crashes or has random errors that you don’t know where they come from and in general, the user experience is quite negative. If this is your case, maybe it’s time to buy a new PC.
Or upgrade the existing one, depending on the equipment in question and made a proper assessment of the necessary budget. Mounting an SSD or increasing the RAM memory are two inexpensive upgrades that are easily done and have a direct and immediate impact on the performance of a PC. So is changing the operating system. If your Windows is no longer adequate, even after a tune-up, it’s time to try a GNU/Linux distribution. There is plenty to choose from in the alternative systems group.
Cleaning should be another task to tune up your PC. In addition to improving its appearance it is important for its operation. The physical cleaning must contemplate the chassis, the screen for a better visualization, the keyboard for a better response and the rest of connected peripherals.
Special attention to the cooling section, especially in laptops, because dirt or dust can decrease the performance of the equipment, force the fans to be permanently connected and even turn off the equipment if it rises above the safety limit temperature. If you have the capacity, disassemble desktops or laptops to start from the inside and, if necessary, improve the cooling of critical points by changing the thermal paste on the CPU, perform proper cable management or consider using liquid cooling systems.
Do not leave it for later. These maintenance tasks to tune up your PC are a great investment to avoid headaches and waste of time and money in the future, with direct benefits in performance, stability, safety, user experience and service life.