A computer is a complex collection of hardware and software components, each of which can cause partial or general failure. If you are able to troubleshoot your computer problems yourself, you can save money by not having to call in a technician or buy new hardware, and you can benefit from a machine that runs efficiently. In this article, you'll learn how to perform some essential maintenance tasks on your computer's hardware and operating system, which may be intimidating at first, but won't be a problem for you in the future.
Part 1 of 2: Update the operating system
Step 1. Neutralize computer viruses
Viruses are the root cause of the majority of computer problems that computer users may encounter. To keep your computer running efficiently, you need to protect it from these viruses.
Install an antivirus program on your computer, if it is not yet protected
Step 2. Neutralize spyware and adware
Adware, which comes with software that you use, is often installed without your knowledge. These programs collect information about your browsing habits which is used to serve (impose) you advertisements related to your areas of interest. They often work in a hidden way, which is why it can be difficult to get rid of them.
Step 3. Get rid of unnecessary and bulky toolbars
A web browser can slow down significantly when its window has many toolbars. Uninstall each bar that is not necessary for web browsing, and if this is complicated, uninstall the web browser to reinstall it with default settings or to install a different one.
Step 4. Uninstall programs you don't use in Windows
They take up hard drive space, and they can potentially slow down your computer when running in the background. Review the programs that are installed on your computer and uninstall any that are not really useful to you.
Click on the following link for instructions on how to uninstall programs in OS X
Step 5. Clean up the list of programs that are automatically launched when the operating system starts
These programs may be numerous and necessary from the start of the system, but a few others may be unnecessary or even unwanted. If too many programs are started when the operating system starts up, the computer can slow down significantly for a few tens of seconds or even several minutes.
Step 6. Free up disk space
For your computer to run efficiently, you must ensure that at least 15% (preferably 25%) of the disk space is free. The operating system uses the free part of the hard drive to transfer files during installations or defragmentations.
Step 7. Clean the registry of your Windows operating system
The registry contains all the information regarding the installations and configurations of the programs that have been installed on your computer. Sometimes information related to an uninstalled program is not cleared from the registry. When this happens often, this obsolete information accumulates and pollutes the registry which must then be cleaned.
Step 8. Update Windows regularly
Sometimes Windows Updates can automatically fix issues you are having. They also make it possible to correct security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious people seeking to take control of vulnerable computers.
Click the following link for detailed instructions (in English) on updating OS X (Mac):
Step 9. Make backups of data that is on your computer hard drive
If your computer crashes due to hardware failure or a virus, then you have your important data on a medium other than the hard drive which may be inaccessible. If you need to change your computer hardware, backups can make the transition easier.
Step 10. Reinstall your operating system
If you are facing an issue that is preventing your computer from functioning properly and you are unable to resolve it, it may be easier to start from scratch by reinstalling the operating system. You can start this operation as soon as you have made a backup of your important data.
- Reinstall Windows 7
- Reinstall Windows 8
- Reinstall OS X:
Part 2 of 2: replace hardware and perform maintenance
Step 1. Clean your computer to avoid overheating
Unless you live in a completely sterile place, you won't be able to prevent your computer from absorbing dust as it sucks in the air needed to cool these components. If you do not clean your computer regularly, that is to say about once a month, dust can accumulate on certain components and cause overheating and voltage variations that affect the operation of the computer.
Step 2. Replace faulty RAM modules
If your computer tends to crash frequently, one or more of the RAM modules may be defective. It is very easy to replace them, taking a few precautions, but you might have some difficulty finding the most suitable strips for your computer.
You can test your memory modules with the MemTest86 program. Visit this webpage to learn more:
Step 3. Replace a faulty hard drive
If you are having difficulty installing software, files are corrupted, or your system crashes more and more often, there may be many bad sectors on your hard drive and it may be time to change them. You can try to repair bad sectors, and if you fail, you will have no option but to replace the hard drive.
If the bad sectors are on the partition that contains the system files, you will also need to reinstall the operating system
Step 4. Replace a faulty graphics card
If the colors are not displayed correctly on your computer screen, or if the images are distorted, your graphics card may be faulty. Before making the decision to buy a new card, make sure the problem is with it by testing it with another screen.
Step 5. Install a new CD / DVD drive
If your player makes particularly loud noises while spinning a CD / DVD, or if you cannot play CDs / DVDs, it may be faulty. Basic drives are very inexpensive, and it only takes a few minutes to install their drivers.
Step 6. Install fans to prevent overheating
Components of a computer that tend to overheat can deteriorate irreversibly. There are protection programs that monitor the temperatures of critical computer components and turn them off if any of them overheat. If any of the components in your computer overheat when you use your machine intensively, perhaps it is time for you to add fans to the case or replace a faulty fan.
You can install a temperature monitoring program to protect your computer components from overheating
Step 7. Replace a faulty power supply
If your computer tends to shut down unexpectedly, or if you have difficulty starting it, your power supply may be defective. You can test your computer's power supply to make sure the problem is there. If so, maybe you can take the opportunity to provide more powerful power to your computer.
Step 8. Assemble a new computer
If your computer is dragging itself around despite a multitude of efforts to revive it, then perhaps the best solution is still to replace it with a new, more efficient machine. Assembling a computer is a much easier job than it first appears, and you might even reuse many of the computer components you take apart to assemble your new machine.