When was the last time you thought about the health of your most important devices? I am talking about your cell phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer here. Do you have a regular schedule for updates, backups, scans, cleaning, and more? Do you actually stick to the schedule?
Regular maintenance of your computer/phone/tablet/laptop will lengthen the overall life of the device – both internally and externally. Plus it is easier and cheaper to keep a good device running properly than it is to replace them.
Here are the essential computer/device maintenance steps you should perform regularly:
Update, update, update!
The number one rule of all tech maintenance is to keep it up to date. This is true no matter the OS – Mac, PC, Linux, Android, etc. Updates ensure your device or computer stays not only at the cutting-edge of its performance but also with the latest safety and security features. See an update prompt? Run it! Don’t see an update? Check for them.
Run regular anti-virus scans
Malware/viruses can happen at any time. An infection in your system can expose your personal information to criminals as well as slow down your computer, slow down your browsing speed online, disrupt network connections, freeze or crash your system, and more. Make sure that you keep your antivirus up to date and make sure that you schedule regular scans of your entire system. We recommend running a scan at least once a week.
Update your passwords
Changing your passwords regularly is just as important (if not more important) as the updates and regular cleanings mentioned above. Hackers are constantly breeching data all over the place (online stores, hospitals, etc.) and an alarming 81% of these breeches result in stolen passwords. You should update your passwords about every quarter, never use the same password for multiple accounts, and never re-use old passwords. For more on creating strong passwords check out our other article on that HERE.
Back it up!
All hardware will eventually fail… heck, even new hard drives can fail. It is best to be prepared for an unexpected crash, glitch, or hardware failure by regularly backing up your data. We recommend redundant backups as well – you should ideally have two full backups (either physical backups or cloud) along with the working files you use on your computer. Make sure to regularly back everything up too. We recommend doing it at minimum of once a week. Your computer hardware is fully replaceable – your data is not.
Clean out junk
Your devices are full of junk. Really. Useless programs, trials, junk leftover from uninstalls, old files, etc. These build up and really slow your entire system down. Make sure to schedule regular disk cleanups, delete temporary files, move old docs/photos to an external hard drive/USB drive/cloud for storage, empty your recycle bin, uninstall software you don’t use, and be sure to clear your browser cache.
Organize what is left
Once you have cleared out the junk it is time to organize the data you have left. We are all too busy to stay on top of properly filing our digital data. Old music files, downloaded memes, addons for games, and more… your folders are crowded and unorganized. If you cannot recall the last time you organized your files, it is way past time to do so. Make sure you also remove any files that you have dumped onto your desktop too – those dramatically slow your computer. The desktop isn’t a storage place, put those files where they belong (properly filed in your hard drive)!
Start by creating large main folders and then sub-folders for specific groups of items. If you properly categorize all of your files, you will be less likely to lose files or have to rely on your computer’s search function to find something.
Check and empty your downloads folder too. Most people simply download items and never really go back to that folder… trust me, it is full of junk that either needs to be trashed or sorted.
Physically clean that nasty thing!
You might be surprised just how much dust and dirt and hair collect in and around your computer or device. It is seriously a lot and seriously gross. All of the particles in your keyboard and mouse prevent their proper function. We recommend using a soft cloth in combination with a can of compressed air. At least monthly make sure to wipe down your computer monitor and case. With the keyboard and mouse, if possible disconnect them from your computer or turn them off before you start cleaning them. For the keyboard: take it outside or hold it over a trash bin, turn it over and gently tap on the back then use the compressed air to try to blow the bits out from between the keys. With the mouse: gently wipe the entire thing. If it is a laptop, tablet, or phone you simply need to gently wipe the entire device. Do not use chemicals or water – electronics and liquids do not mix. If you find a spot that really needs better cleaning – try a small bit of isopropyl alcohol on a cotton ball. The alcohol evaporates very quickly and can easily remove stubborn debris.
Keeping your cables neat will not only make your work space look nicer but it also makes it easier to identify what cable goes where in case you need to unplug something. After you finish cleaning the device, give your cables a good hard look. Make sure that your device cables aren’t tangled up balls of wires, make sure they are plugged in to properly grounded outlets, never chain-plug in power strips, and make sure all cables are out of walk paths. If you have not taken the time to properly bind your cables – do so with zip ties but very gently. You don’t want to squeeze the cables, you just want them to be neat.
This tip is more for portable devices like cell phones or laptops… these devices tend to get dropped a lot which can result in both total irreparable breakage or just ugly cosmetic dings. Both can be avoided with proper protection! Pick whichever one suits you best – there are quite a few varieties to choose from – just make sure you are using at least one at all times. Thin skins that are like full-device stickers, hard snap-on shells, padded sleeves, or a dedicated bag. We recommend using more than one just to be safe.
Don’t overcharge your devices
Another portable tip – I know it seems like a great idea to plug your device in and simply leave it that way – maybe its overnight, maybe all day long. No. Stop it! Overcharging your device battery actually harms the battery’s ability to hold a charge at all. When your device hits 100%, unplug it. Also, try not to let the battery go totally dead. That can also harm it.
Lost on how to get started or simply want someone else to take care of these tasks for you? Let us help!