It’s always a good idea to perform periodic maintenance on the PCs we support, and it’s probably just as good an idea to periodically review the items on our PC tune-up checklist. Here’s a start.
Make sure all service packs and security updates have been installed: Sure, most of us have this set to update automatically, but the update settings can and do get changed at times. And if the automatic update has been turned off, turn it back on and emphasize to the user that it’s important to keep it on.
Application updates: In most cases, it would also be a good idea to make sure all applications have the necessary updates installed. This also applies to the free stuff like Adobe Reader and such.
Update all virus protection files: Again, these are probably set to update automatically, but the same thoughts apply as the Windows updates.
Run a virus scan: And make sure it’s set to automatically scan periodically (preferably daily) or a least bi-weekly.
Scan for malware: I prefer Malwarebytes, as do most support pros but there are others.
Delete all temporary files: Including all software installation temp files, temporary Internet files, and so on. In coordination with the user, delete other files that may be obsolete or are no longer needed.
Empty the recycle bin: It’s amazing to see how large that can get.
Check applications and processes: Over time, the applications and processes that run (either in the background or foreground) tend to grow. Check to make sure they’re necessary and legitimate.
Firewalls: Verify that a proper firewall is in place and turned on. Just one firewall. Some folks think if one is good that two is better. Not true because all they do is work against each other.
Verify adequate space is available on the hard drive: Personally speaking, I don’t like a hard drive to get more than 70 percent full. If it’s approaching 75-80 percent full, it’s a good time to do some serious cleanup (either by the user or done with the user). If files and programs simply can’t be removed, plan to install a larger one. (Which will be a service order over and above the normal PC tune-up.)
Review the amount of installed memory: The current memory installed might have been adequate at one time, but with application updates and such, it might be prudent to increase the amount of memory. (Again, something that will be a service order over and above the normal PC tune-up.)
Defrag and optimize the hard drive: I don’t really like Vista’s defrag tool, but there are some good free ones available out there.
Verify backup procedures: In my case, all data files are kept on and backed up from a file server. But if the user keeps data or e-mail files on the local drive, make sure backup procedures are in place and working.
Create a System Restore point: It might be more prudent to do this more than once per year, but if the user can’t do it and you can’t visit each machine more regularly, once a year is better than nothing.
Check the fans: Make sure the fans are spinning freely and quietly: the processor fan, case fans, graphics card fan, etc. If they’re noisy or don’t spin freely, replace them. (Another service order over and above the normal PC tune-up.) Although it’s not always possible to predict a fan failure, it’s better to replace them before they fail.
Check the UPS battery: The average life of a UPS battery is probably around five years. If it’s close to that time, you might want to replace it. If you have a battery life tester, that will give you a good indication of future battery life. (Their costs vary, but the good ones run from between $100 and $175.) Like the fans, it’s better to replace the battery before it fails than to find out it has no life when it was needed the most. The computer doesn’t even have a UPS you say? Why not?
Clean it out: Computers are dust magnets. Use a computer vacuum or a can of air (outside the building) to get rid of it. Focus on the fans and filters (if any). Remove the front panel (if possible) to remove the dust from any cavities or between parts.
Clean the rest: Cleaning the keyboard, mouse, speakers, and monitor is always a nice finishing touch. Replacing a grungy keyboard might also be a good idea — just because some are so dang hard to clean.
Just like your automobile and your body, performing an annual checkup and tune-up is always a good way to give your computers not only a longer life but better performance.