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It is quite surprising to see how many mistakes we make maintaining our computers, and that too considering the fact that we cannot do much work-wise without them. Computer maintenance is something we can easily take care of ourselves, but we do not take half the care we should and that’s the reason why we end up spending hundreds of dollars on calling professionals to look at our computers each year. And this is money we could very well have saved.

This article enlists ten vital maintenance tips that you must follow. This will increase the life of your hard disk and even make the computer prove more efficient to you. (The tips given below are for Windows operating systems.)

Tip # 1 – When to Restart and When to Reset

Most people think that restarting and resetting means one and the same thing, but they are not! Restarting is the process when the computer is made to shut down (normally) and then made to start again after the common rebooting process that the computer undergoes. Restarting can be done through several internal features of the computer operating system, including the Shut Down menu. But resetting is different. This is done by pressing a button present on the CPU. When you reset a computer, you are shutting it down forcefully and then starting it again. When resetting is done, the computer is not allowed to shut down in the normal way, but restarting allows that to happen.

Resetting must be done only when nothing else seems to work. For example, if the display has frozen, or if the computer ‘hang’s, and even Ctrl-Alt-Del does not seem to work, then resetting can be done. But for simple requirements like reconfiguring the system after installing new software, you must only go for restarting.

Tip # 2 – Shutting Down the Computer

The computer must never be shut down by any other method except through the Shut Down menu provided. Never must the computer be shut down by powering it off directly from the AC mains. This will cause irreparable damage to the hard disk.

Tip # 3 – Clean Out Your Computer Occasionally

It doesn’t take much time to run a Scan Disk and a Disk Defragmenter on your computer often. This is in fact the simplest way to maintain your computer. When you fragment your disk, you are freeing up all wasted space on your computer and that certainly increases its efficiency. Scanning shows you all the bad and corrupt files located on your computer.

Tip # 4 – Keep the Startup Simple

If your computer takes very long starting up, it probably has a lot of start programs. Let the computer start completely, then enter into the Start Up programs and delete those which you don’t need to load at startup. These programs will only slow down your computer drastically.

Tip # 5 – Install an Antivirus

Anyone knowing an iota of computers will tell you how an antivirus is important to your computer, if you are using the Internet. Remember to run the antivirus scan regularly. You can even set it up automatically.

Tip # 6 – Install Firewalls

You can say that firewalls are better than antivirus programs at protection. While antivirus programs are the cure, firewalls can be considered as the prevention. When you set up a firewall, you are restricting all kinds of unauthorized accesses to your computer. You must do this as soon as you get your Internet connection, and then keep the firewall definitions updated.

Tip # 7 – Install Antispyware Programs

Spyware is a term used to describe several unauthorized applications that install on your computer when you browse the Internet, and then they make a connection between your computer and the host server. These programs can relay private information from your computer to the host server. Spyware is a chief element of identity theft in today’s times. Fortunately, there are several good antispyware programs that you can install to protect your computer from such threats.

Tip # 8 – Keep Adequate Disk Space

Never fill your hard disk to full capacity. This will make your computer run slow and can cause damage to the disk even. Keep at least 100 MB free space. However, the hard disks available today have humongous capacities, so this problem will probably never arise.

Tip # 9 – Use Peripheral Devices Carefully

For all peripheral devices, you must exercise care when making direct connections with your PC. Especially when you are removing them, don’t just yank them out. Turn off the device through the corresponding software first, and remove them only when they say it’s safe to remove the device.

Tip # 10 – Clean Out the Temp Files
Temp files are created when you are working on any application on your computer. These are not user-readable files, but they are records for the computer to use the applications easily the next time. A similar analogy is found in cached files when using the Internet. These files can accumulate to a large extent and can clog the computer, making it run very slow. You must regularly visit the temp or cache folder and clean out these files.

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