Keep it clean!!

    Part of the problem with PC service is not only corrupted software and bad hardware components. It is plain old dust and dirt! Smoking agrevates the problem because dust adheres more easily to nicotine coated surfaces.

     You would not go for thousands of miles with your car without checking your oil and water and giving it a good washing occasionally. The same applies to scheduled PC maintenance. Here are a few things that should be scheduled depending on the physical environment and amount of use of your computer. Lets assume an hour a day of  usage and power on for about 3 to 4 hours a day. My personal recommendations would be:

    1. Through scandisk once a month. In Windows 9X double click on My Computer then right click (remember last week's tip) on the C: drive. Left click on properties from the dropdown. In the properties window for the drive choose the tools tab at the top. From here you can scandisk and defragment the disk. Note... With Windows XP scandisk is gone in 'System Tools' but can still be run by looking at properties/tools of the drive.

    2. Defragment every two to three months from the same place.

    3. Check your Virus Data Files. Even if you have an automatic updater verify the data file date. Update every two weeks as a rule of thumb if you are doing it manually with dialup access. This won't guarantee you won't get a very current virus but you should be pretty well covered. If you have forgotten for a month or more have the scanner check the whole drive for dormant viruses that may be hiding and may show their ugly face later.

    4. Now the hard part...  Every 6 to 12 months go out to Staples, WalMart, etc. and get a can of compressed air. Take the cover off your machine and blow the dust and grime out. Aim directly at the Processor Fan and make sure it is relatively clean and the fins on the heat sync are clear of dust and grime. Try not to loosen any of the cables where they plug to the main board (motherboard) or at the other ends where they attach to the devices. Make sure the Power Supply Fan and the CPU Fan are clear.  I can't recommend the following but most places do it anyway. With the case cover off power up the processor unit and make sure the Power Supply Fan and CPU Fan are running freely so the movement of air is good. A clogged CPU or Power Supply Fan can kill a system very quickly.

    There are lots of other minor maintenance things that may be done but if you do the above your system will serve you for much longer.

    Next week we will touch on some file maintenance ideas for keeping your system running at peak speed.