e’ve all been in that situation. One moment you’re typing up an e-mail, writing up a document, adding the finishing touches to a piece of art. Then, the machine suddenly goes blank. You have no clue what’s happened, nor what went wrong. So, you try to start the PC/laptop again and nothing. In the worst case scenario, stuff like what you see here can happen! But that’s not all. Have you noticed your machine getting slower and slower over time? Not really sure why it’s gotten slower? Well..
It’s a bit of a broad symptom, as it can be caused by various issues. But, to make the possibility of this occurring minimal, keeping your device maintained as best as you can is always a great practice. Whilst we offer quick tips on the fly when you book your device in and will do all the legwork for you, the following 5 steps you can take can really make a difference.
However, if you’re unsure about keeping your device maintained, we can offer a full M.O.T and servicing of your device. Give our IT Support Oxford Office call on 01865 717088
So, assuming your device hasn’t gone kaput in the last minute or so of you reading this, let’s get started. Computer Assistance offers you the 5 top tips for device maintenance.
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1. Clean off that dust!
Sounds obvious, right? However, many of us neglect to do regular cleaning of the desktop/laptops that we use. Ok, so opening a laptop or desktop isn’t exactly what you want to be doing on a weekend, but you needn’t go that far. But be warned, some people who do follow this practice do it completely wrong and could cause more damage to the device! Don’t worry, we’ll cover the do’s and don’ts of cleaning your device. This tip will cover laptops and desktop PCs. Whilst you can employ something similar on a MAC device, it’s a little harder to get at the critical components. Furthermore, trying to do this with your phone isn’t necessary.
DON’T: Use a vacuum cleaner!
Whilst this might be the simplest solution and the easiest to possibly get a hold of, it’s very dangerous for the device you use it on. Vacuum cleaners generate a lot of static electricity, which can cause a surge of power into your desktop/laptop and irreversibly damage it. If you can, keep it as far away from your PC as possible!
DO: Use compressed air
Your best solution is to use a can of compressed air. They’re cheap and can be used multiple times before having to get another can. With the small nozzle, you can accurately target specific and hard-to-reach areas in the device. This is also useful for cleaning the fan in a laptop, without having the fan spin wildly out of control. Furthermore, with a smaller nozzle and air pushed onto the surface, it’s easier to dislodge stuck dust and dirt off the components. All-in-all, a huge plus.
DO: Use rubbing alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol
This is more a last-ditch effort for tougher dust stuck on the board or hard to reach places. You can use isopropyl alcohol or “rubbing” alcohol on the components safely without causing damage. Simply apply a small amount to a cloth and gently rub across the component. From there, leave it for an hour to dry and your components should be clean and ready to go!
DON’T: Try to clean the device whilst it’s on!
I know this seems like a silly thing to cover, but some people will attempt to clean their devices whilst they’re operating. There’s a severe risk of causing a small, but effective power surge to the components of the device. Thus, corrupting data, damaging the component and potentially making it un-usable! So please, turn the machine off and leave it disconnected from power when performing maintenance.
2. Update your Device Drivers!
This is something most people don’t know to do at all. They have their drivers installed for their device components and that’s it! However, over time, software updates can cause hardware to perform worse without up to date drivers. As a result, you may observe performance loss overtime and your commonly used programs may get slower and slower. The easiest fix to this is to simply update your drivers for your device!
Seem like a daunting task? Not at all. Most laptop/desktop PC manufacturers come with software that will search automatically and prompt you to download the latest drivers for your laptop periodically. Thus, keeping drivers up to date is a breeze.
How to: Locate your drivers
For the more tech savvy of you out there, here’s a few things you can do to keep your custom-built PCs up to date. These steps will let you identify what components you have. Then, a simple search later using the exact name of the component followed by “drivers” will usually yield a 1st result solution for you.
– Open up a run command window [windows key + r]
– Type in “dxdiag” and hit enter
– When prompted to check for digitally signed drivers, say no (this isn’t necessary but faster)
– Open the display 1 tab (result may differ slightly)
– Make a note of the display adapter (Name)
This will give you the name of the graphics adapter you are using for your device. If it’s a custom-built PC, you will most likely have a graphics card. Otherwise you may see Intel HD.
For more components, you best bet is to download the free software CPU-Z and run it. The information provided will give you all the components’ names in your PC, making it easier to search for drivers.
The tabs you are interested in within the program are: CPU, Mainboard, Graphics. You can find with a simple search providing the name of the part and “drivers” all the latest drivers for your PC’s parts with ease.
Then, simply head to the websites provided and follow the instructions when installing your drivers. You may need to restart your PC for the configurations to complete. So, make sure you have everything saved!
3. System Updates. Keep your Operating System up to date!
This is more exclusive to laptops and desktops, but android device users and iOS users alike will also benefit from this simple change you can make to your daily device usage.
By default, for Windows 10 users, updates are checked for and installed automatically in the background as you continue your work. For users on older versions of windows, you will need to check windows update every now and then and click “check for updates”. However, we do recommend you update to the latest version of Windows, if your machine is capable of doing so.
Keeping your Operating System up to date is an invaluable maintenance step to take in order to keep your device secure from ever growing threats. But, these updates may also come with optimisations that may improve the experience and performance of the operating system when performing certain tasks. So, be sure to keep your operating system up to date.
Even Android and iOS, too!
The same can be said for android devices. All the time, google’s trying to optimise their OS as much as possible to improve the efficiency of resource usage. The latest oreo update made significant optimisations to the operating system. So, keep your operating system up to date as much as possible.
4. Keep your Anti-Virus Software Updated!
You’ve probably noticed that quite a few of the topics here are about keeping software up to date and you’d be right. However, the next big piece of software that you should always keep up to date is your anti-virus software. This is two-fold, the virus definition database and the components of the anti-virus software.
The virus definition database is the file used by the anti-virus system to cross reference scanned items to detect malware on your system, by comparing lines of code. These virus signatures, if detected in your files, will be reported back to you by your anti-virus software as a piece of malware on your system and will either quarantine or remove completely. However, new malware is generated on almost a daily basis. Thus, the virus definition database gets updated to detect these new strands. Therefore, make sure you let your anti-virus program run it’s update checks daily.
Anti-virus program components?
Make sure you keep your version of your anti-virus program up to date, too. These updates come with important security features and fixes to make the program operate smoother. Plus, newer versions will contain new features to help keep your device safer than ever! So, keep your anti-virus program up to date, folks.
Delete un-used programs, junk files and leftovers!
Seems simple enough, but people do forget to do this. Sometimes, you may install a program for a specific purpose. However, you then forget to remove the program once you no longer need it. This can lead to space taken up on your drive that’s no longer being utilized by you. Furthermore, some programs come with an option to run on start-up, which can lead to slower start-up times. Be sure to keep a check of your installed programs by heading over to: Control Panel -> Programs -> Uninstall a Program
Another thing people miss is temporary files. These files are generated just from browsing the internet and caches images on sites. This can lead to loads of space taken up on your drive. However, not only the internet is to blame here. Uninstalls of programs can leave leftover files and unused registry entries that can cause your machine to slow down over time as they accumulate. So, what’s the best way to get rid of all these files safely?
Well, you’re in luck. Several people clocked onto the idea of creating software to analyse and clean temporary files, leftover registry entries and more. However, our top pick for this is ccleaner. A powerful, free cleanup tool that’s easy to use and quick to run. Simply run the cleaner to clean-up cached images, cookies, temporary files and more. Plus, CCleaner offers plenty of customization. This allows you to choose what files to remove and what files to keep, based on categories per program.
Tried the above but still a little confused? Why not give your PC/laptop/MAC a full M.O.T? We’ll do a full diagnostic, both hardware and software side. From there, you’ll also get our expert recommendations on improvements or solutions to improve longevity of your device.
Feel free to give us a call on 01865 717088 and you’ll receive a call from a technician who will be able to sort out all of your problems. We also give expert advice on the next move, whatever the IT problem may be. Your next IT Solution is just a phone call away!
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