ITS News 2011

Computer Maintenance

Paul Monegas

Throughout time, computers can start to run slow and not perform the way they used to. And from the constant use of them, their functionality becomes less optimal. They're similar to our vehicles we drive where we take it for oil changes, brake service, tire rotations, tune ups, etc. in order to keep them running stable.

Obviously, our computers don't come with a dip stick or don't require tires to run.  But there are steps we can take as a user to help keep our computers at their optimum.  Below are listed areas of computer maintenance that should be addressed on a regular basis.

Defragmentation

The storage space (hard drive) on our computer is like a filing cabinet.  A filing cabinet has folders and sections labeled and organized in alphabetical order.  That makes it a more efficient way to retrieve and store different files.  Similarly, when you open a program or file your instructing your computer to retrieve specific data to fulfill your request.  Upon exiting your program or saving your edited file; your computer stores the data back.  Over time, some of the files aren't placed back in its same location and data is fragmented. 

Defragmentation organizes your files and data.  It relocates them to the proper areas and ensures they are in contiguous areas of your hard drive. 

Internet Browser Cleanup

The use of the Internet is one of the main functions we use our computers for.  Data is retrieved and stored on our system to improve the speed at which we interact with websites.  These are referred to as Cookies, Internet Temporary Files (Cache) and Browsing History.  These can build up in size and reach a point to where they can cause conflicts with Internet browsing and render it unstable.

Files on the Desktop

The Desktop refers to the space that displays on your monitor when you first turn on your computer.  It's the area where your wallpaper is portrayed - a picture of your family, pet, artwork, etc.  You may create shortcuts to commonly used applications or store a handful of files that you're working on.  But it can significantly decrease your system's performance when you start to store large amounts of data such as vacation photos or all your documents created from last month on your desktop.  The purpose of the Desktop area is for minimal storage, and the more files stored on there, the more of the system resources that are used.  The best solution is to store your documents under My Documents (X drive) or your photos on your personal hard drive.

Antivirus Software

Viruses can corrupt system files and delete data.  This can cause your system to run unstable and slow.  It's important to ensure your antivirus software is up-to-date and scanning for viruses.  Some examples of these antivirus applications are Norton, McAfee and Trend Micro.  You can open your specific software and check when the last update was installed.  Some versions allow you to configure automatic updates and schedule automatic virus scans, or you can manually run updates and virus scans.

All SMU computers have Trend Micro Antivirus software configured for automatic updates and scheduled virus scans.  To check the last update with Trend Micro, right click on the icon on the taskbar and select 'component versions'.  If you haven't logged into the SMU network in over a week, we suggest running a manual update and virus scan.  This can be done by right clicking the Trend Micro icon on the taskbar. 

For more details, please visit the Helpdesk webpage: http://www.samuelmerritt.edu/helpdesk