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Computer Maintenance for the Novice User: The Basic Elements of Preventative Computer Care

Computer Maintenance for the Novice User: The Basic Elements of Preventative Computer Care | To keep a computer running well, a certain level of maintenance is required. A properly looked-after computer can last years longer than a neglected one.

Computers and Laptops are very complex and need maintenance in the same way as a car. A carefully tended computer can last for years and can save the user money by removing the need for upgrades and technical assistance. Many of the most common problems are caused by neglect, and like a car, a novice can perform some simple steps to prevent them.

Antivirus – The Most Important Part of Computer Maintenance

Having an antivirus program running at all times is the first and most important element of computer maintenance. Microsoft also has a complete antivirus program, Microsoft Security Essentials, available for free, and there are many other paid programs available such as Kaspersky.

A good antivirus program protects the computer from viruses that a user may encounter online. The program should be set to perform a daily low priority virus scan of the hard drive or a weekly high priority scan, and can also be set to actively scan the most vulnerable areas of the drive all the time.

The Firewall, and its Value to Computer Security

An Internet connection is a two-way opening into a computer, and someone with the right knowledge can use that connection to gain access, and possibly do damage, to everything on the hard drive. A firewall is designed to prevent any such access.

Windows has a built-in firewall that can be accessed through the Control Panel which is sufficient for home use. Paid antivirus programs frequently have an extended package that includes a firewall, and are designed for those in need of a higher level of computer security.

Computer Maintenance for the Novice User

Malware Removal – Daily Computer Maintenance

Spyware and adware are other types of malicious programs that can affect a computer and are broadly similar to viruses. Their purpose is to collect marketing information on a user’s habits, spam the user with advertisements, or worse.

Although spyware and adware are typically less destructive than a virus, they are still insidious and it has become impossible to prevent them from getting into a computer while a user is online. Running a daily scan for this type of malware is the best solution. 

Updates – Automatic Computer Maintenance from Microsoft

Microsoft will frequently release security fixes and updates for Windows, and the best way to make sure it is kept as up-to-date as possible is to switch on Windows Automatic Updates. This will allow the computer to maintain the operating system automatically, without the user needing to worry about it.

Computer Cleaning

Computers should always be kept clean. The monitor or laptop screen should be cleaned with a tiny amount of water on a soft cloth. Keyboards may attract crumbs and dust and may need to be cleaned by blowing the debris out with a can of compressed air. The edges of a laptop and the side and back of a desktop tower have vents for the cooling fans inside, and these need to be kept clear at all times.

How to Protect a Laptop Computer From Liquid Damage

Liquid damage to a computer typically falls under one of three main categories:

  • Beverages
  • Weather
  • Body fluids

How to Protect a Laptop From Damage Due to Beverages

Spilling a drink on a laptop can easily occur, particularly if the computer is being used in an area where beverages are being consumed.

A few tips for protecting a laptop from spills from a beverage include:

  • Avoid drinking beverages while using a laptop.
  • Ensure that others are not drinking beverages near the computer.
  • Store the laptop in an area that is separate from areas where beverages are served.

Alcoholic beverages, such as beer, and laptops do not mix well. Alcohol usually wins to the tune of replacing the computer. A wise practice includes storing a laptop away from any party settings.

How to Protect a Laptop From Damage Due to Weather

Perhaps classes may continue through rain, snow, sleet, and many other weather conditions, but it is important to protect a laptop from damage due to precipitation.

Tips for protecting a laptop from weather include:

  • Always use a carrying case to transport the laptop from one location to another.
  • Avoid placing a laptop near a window in a dorm room, apartment, home, or vehicle.
  • Avoid storing a laptop in a vehicle with the windows down if precipitation is likely.
  • Watch for and ensure that leaks in a roof are repaired promptly and that the laptop is not placed in areas where leaks are likely.
  • Store the laptop in a protective carrying case when not in use.
  • If possible, do not store a laptop in areas where flooding is likely.
  • Watch for sprinklers and other areas of artificial precipitation.

What to Do if a Laptop/Computer Becomes Wet

If a laptop becomes wet, acting quickly may help to prevent or limit the damage. First, follow manufacturer recommendations. Find a dry towel and/or paper towel, and wipe the moisture off the exterior of the machine. If the liquid is sticky, use a slightly damp towel or paper towel to clean the exterior surfaces. Some keyboards are spill-resistant, and the suggested position would be to leave the laptop open and place it on its side on a hard surface being careful not to cause it to fall over. Other manufacturers may suggest opening the computer and placing it face down on a hard, dry surface.

Basic warranties do not typically cover liquid damage to a laptop. Most computer manufacturers and some college campuses offer extra protection such as insurance for a college-issued computer. This may be a wise investment but is typically only offered on the date of purchase.

Carefully check the specifics of the laptop insurance policy to determine whether or not liquid damage is covered. Do not try to take the computer apart because doing so will void a warranty even if it covers liquid spills. Always inform the technical support department of the exact nature of the liquid spill to avoid any possibility of exposure to body fluids and place the computer in a leak-proof bag to avoid contaminating surfaces with bodily fluids.

It is always a good idea to back up data regularly if a liquid spill results in the need to replace the machine. That data should be kept in a location that is separate from the laptop. If working on a class assignment such as a term paper, consider saving the information in an email to oneself if other means of backup are not available.

Liquid Spill on Laptop – Good Practice, Bad Practice, and How to Avoid an Ugly Bill

Avoiding liquid damage to a laptop is certainly preferable, but if a laptop does become wet, quickly drying the machine and placing it in the best position to drain may minimize the damage. Purchasing extra protection may cover costs for repairing and/or replacing the laptop if necessary, and backing up data immediately may save time if all files are lost due to a liquid spill.

Care and Attention in Handling a Computer

Although computers are designed with a certain level of robustness in mind, it is still possible to damage one by being too rough with it. Screens and monitors cannot be repaired if the panel itself is cracked or broken, and they are especially expensive to replace.

Dropping a laptop from any height may damage the hard drive inside and result in the loss of all user data. Users should always be careful when handling their computers and make sure not to move a desktop unless it is switched off first.

Computer Backups

If the worst happens, and the computer fails, a user should always have the most important files and programs backed up to an external hard drive if one is available.

If there is no external hard drive available, a user can sign up to the Dropbox website for free. This service (and others like it) provide a simple method to keep the most important files on a computer backed up to an external location and allows the user to access those files from anywhere in the world.

Despite the general encouragement of the industry to upgrade every few years, careful maintenance can extend the usable life of a computer far beyond that (barring any hardware failures). Although certain tasks and programs such as games or video editing require more processing power over time, simple activities like typing and Internet browsing can be easily handled by an older machine.

About the author: Jared Watney is a professional writer at the essay writing service Besides, he is a passionate stories writer. In this case, he dreams of self-publishing his book. Moreover, Jared started drawing images for it by himself.

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