What is a computer tune up?
You have probably seen ads for “Computer Tune Up” on-line and in-print. Sometimes referred to as “Optimization”, prices can range upward of $100.00 but what exactly is a computer tune up?
Is it time for a tune-up?
That kind of depends on who you ask. Everyone seems to have their own idea of what a computer tune up should involve. Some of the common elements are: (Assuming that the machine is being updated regularly and there are no physical problems like a failing hard drive, power supply or memory.)
Remove malware, this is the most important item on the list. Even if you have a current antivirus program running on your machine it will only catch about 75% of what is out there. Scanning in safe mode will find the malware that is hiding from your antivirus app. This cannot be done from remote or by available “tune up” software that you can buy. It must be done from the directly from the computer using an antivirus that can operate in safe mode.
Remove temporary files and unwanted programs that can also slow down a computer. Temporary files can be beneficial up to a point but eventually they become a burdensome overload. Also uninstall any programs that you don't use.
Scan for corrupt or damaged system files. There is a built in tool for this in MS Windows that can be run from a Command Prompt. The System Files Checker, (SFC) will look for damaged system files and either repair them or alert you that it found problems that it cannot fix. If the SFC finds problems that it can't fix then more extensive repairs will be needed. This applies to the operating system only. If another program becomes corrupted the fix is to uninstall and reinstall that program.
Defragment the hard drive. This is less important on modern machines because of the size of the hard drive.
SXS files can build up over time and become so numerous as to impede performance. This folder can get very large, particularly if you frequently install and uninstall hardware or software. I have seen some instances where the SXS folder was twenty time the size of the rest of the operating system combined. Just deleting these files can have disastrous results. But you can run the Disk Cleanup tool, (also a tool built into Windows) to fix this.
Feeling much better now!.
Stop unnecessary start ups. You can run “msconfig”, (another tool built into Windows) and click the Startup tab. Un-tick the box of the programs that you don't want to run whenever the computer starts. You might be surprised at some of the things you'll find in Startups.
Fix my computer tools like registry cleaners are of little use. You may remember from my December 2015 Newsletter that I am not a big fan of registry cleaners. There is always some amount of, “junk” in the windows registry. Duplicate Keys, Orphaned Entries and Fragmented Registry are often identified as “serious” problems when in reality they are not an issue.
Clean it out. Computers can be real “dust magnets”. Depending on the environment the buildup of dust, fibers, pet hair and other airborne particles can block airflow and lead to overheating. If you are bold enough to open the computer case a quick blast from a can of, “air duster” can remedy this problem. If you are not bold enough to go rummaging through the innards of your machine have your favorite computer tech do it.
How often should you get a computer tune up? That depends on how active you are and what you do with your computer. On-line gambling, pornography and file sharing activities put you at high risk. These places are just malware central and you should probably check for malware infestations at least once a week. For most people once or twice a year is probably sufficient.
And remember always back it up!
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