A new computer is often a thing of wonder because it runs so much faster and more efficiently than your old computer. Of course, those advantages often mean nothing more than your new computer runs better hardware, not that it runs better. Yet, even with new computers, users often fear problems like the infamous blue screen of death.
Of course, the blue screen of death is often a byproduct of things you can’t predict, such as driver problems. Common computer maintenance mistakes, on the other hand, will reliably create problems for your computer hardware and software.
Keep reading for seven common computer maintenance mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Basic Setup
While it’s not exactly a maintenance task, a lot of new computer owners don’t bother with things like basic setup on their new computers. They just stick with whatever default settings the computer manufacturer put in place. That’s what prompts questions from friends like:
Yet, it’s often easier to spot telltale problems when you customize your basic setup. If you like your icons or fonts a certain size or don’t want certain programs running on startup, you can set that. If those things change all of a sudden, it’s a sign that alerts you that something changed with your system.
At the very least, it can remind you to run a fresh virus scan on your system.
Always take the time to do a basic setup so that you know where you can find essential controls and set basic preferences.
2. Not Installing Antivirus Software
Some new computers come with a free trial period on antivirus and antimalware software. Other systems don’t even offer the trial. All too often computer owners don’t bother installing the software or running it if they get a trial. Even worse, they don’t renew the software when they get a trial period.
With so many common cyber threats out there, including countless viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware, not investing in basic cybersecurity software is asking for trouble. Even free virus protection software generally beats no protection.
When your computer has active antivirus software, running scans on the system must become part of your regular computer maintenance routine.
3. Not Running Updates
Yes, nearly every computer owner can recall at least one instance where installing an update turned into a nightmare for them. On the whole, though, updates only benefit you. Most updates focus on one of two things: feature upgrades or security.
If it’s a feature upgrade, odds are good you can work around it if the update isn’t as solid as you expected. As for security upgrades, they almost always solve problems you didn’t even know existed.
Considering that an operating system like Windows runs millions of lines of code, that’s a lot of opportunities for someone to find a new exploit. As a general rule, you better off letting your computer run automatic updates.
4. Not Cleaning Your Computer
Cleaning is one of those tasks that almost never happens with computers, yet it’s an important element of maintenance for laptops and desktops alike. Dust, for example, can accumulate around the fan port on your desktop. As the dust builds up over time, it makes it harder and harder for the system to maintain proper temperatures.
Once a computer gets too hot, it’s all downhill from there.
Letting dust or food crumbs settle on the keyboard can let debris work its way down beneath the keys and interfere with proper typing. Grime or dust can also build up in the ports, particularly on laptops.
Fortunately, a can of compressed air will do a fair job keeping keyboards and ports clear. A quick pass with a vacuum hose will keep vents in your computer tower clear.
5. No Power Surge Protection
Modern computers and laptops prove remarkably sturdy, all things considered. They’ll endure the occasional power outage or someone in your house accidentally knocking the power cord loose. Even so, they also contain a lot of tiny connections that do not survive power surges well.
Yet, it’s all too common for someone to just plug their computer into a wall socket and not give it a second thought. While you don’t necessarily need an uninterrupted power supply for your computer, you should invest in power strips with good, built-in power surge protection.
6. Poor Battery Maintenance
Laptop batteries and smartphone batteries share some traits. One of those shared traits is that neither type of battery does well when you leave it charging after the battery reaches 100 percent.
While most people will occasionally leave their laptops plugged in overnight to charge, you should make an effort to monitor the charge level. Unplug the laptop when it reaches a full charge.
For optimal results, plug the laptop back in and start the recharge process before the battery reaches a full discharge. This approach maximizes the total battery life.
7. Not Purging the Browser Cache
Even casual Internet browsing can build up a lot of stored files in your RAM. All of those product images on Amazon, for example, will often just sit in your browser cache. If you don’t turn off your computer completely on a regular basis, which many people don’t, that cache gets bigger and bigger.
Beyond a certain point, all of those files in your cache will make everything on your computer slow and buggy. Fortunately, all browsers come with tools menus that include the option to clear your cache.
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Computer Maintenance Mistakes and You
Almost everyone commits at least one or two computer maintenance mistakes. The good news is that most of these mistakes offer simple solutions.
You can select automatic updates for software. You can get annual subscriptions for antivirus software. You can make cleaning your computer part of your weekly home cleaning routine.
You can get power strips that offer surge protection at almost any major retailer. As for battery maintenance, it’s just a habit you must teach yourself over time.
Looking for more tech maintenance tips? Check out the posts in our Technology section.