Wednesday, August 25, 2010

System Preventive Maintenance Guidelines



After a long time Faizu Baba is back again with some of the guidelines so that people can take proactive actions to avoid system crash.

Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance refers to carrying out measures to prevent problems from occurring, in contrast to corrective maintenance, which seeks to solve an already-existing problem. In the long run, preventive maintenance saves time and money, protects your data, improves computer performance, and prolongs computer life. These are accomplished by considering and planning for the risks involved in working with computers (e.g. data loss, hardware failure). Preventive maintenance can be classified into following:

1. Hardware Maintenance
2. Software Maintenance

Hardware Maintenance


Hardware maintenance encompasses preventive maintenance of following items:


Clean the case: Wipe the case and clear its ventilation ports of any obstructions. Compressed air is great for this, but don't blow dust into the PC or its optical and floppy drives. Keep all cables firmly attached to their connectors on the case.

Maintain the mouse: When a non-optical mouse gets dirty, the pointer moves erratically. Unscrew the ring on the bottom of the unit and remove the ball. Then scrape the accumulated gunk off the two plastic rollers that are set 90 degrees apart inside the ball's housing. Similarly when an optical mouse gets dirty clean its bottom protrude edges

Keep a keyboard neat: Turn the keyboard upside down and shake it to clear the crumbs from between the keys. If that doesn't suffice, blast it (briefly) with compressed air.

Make your monitor sparkle: Gently clean the screen with a standard glass cleaner, such as Glint, and a lint-free cloth.

Check your power protection: Do not connect power sources directly into wall outlets but rather connect them first to some form of surge protector. Surge protectors prevent electrical surges from destroying hard drives and erasing data.
Swipe your CD and DVD media: Gently wipe each disc with a moistened, soft cloth. Use a motion that starts at the center of the disc and then moves outward toward the edge. Never wipe a disc in a circular motion.

Clean the CD-ROM drive: Clean the laser. One can use cleaning media for this purpose. Many programs are installed corrupted from a dirty CD reader.

Give an Air Below: Give the system an air below in around 4-6 months. However, if the computer is operates in a dusty environment, it should be cleaned more frequently. But before give it an air below do not forget to unplug all the connections inside and outside the CPU. Also put emphasis on the slots of all cards and RAM banks.

Change of CMOS: If your system is 4-5 years old then it is recommended to change your CMOS or you can do it when the system asks to do so.

Swipe the RAMS and Cards: Gently wipe the dust from the RAM and all other cards by using an eraser and Tissue paper. Check rams with utility called memtest86 (but it is a time taking activity) (http://www.memtest.org/)

Periodic Checkups: Also check the hardware with some hardware diagnostic utilities like
• #1-TuffTEST-Lite™ PC Diagnostic (http://www.tufftest.com/tt01-lite.htm)
• Sandra Standard (http://www.softsea.com/review/SiSoft-Sandra-Standard.html)

Periodic Checkups of HDD: Always check the hard drive status by scandisk, chkdsk and by enabling S.M.A.R.T option in BIOS.

Hardware Upgrades: Proactively upgrade the hardware by forecasting the upcoming needs. Before installing any software also check its minimum hardware requirements and act accordingly.

Software Maintenance


Firmware Upgrades: Check the vendor’s website for latest firmware version for the system. It is recommended to upgrade the firmware if the vendor suggests it as a critical update or the system is generating issues.

Driver Update: Always keep the system up to date with latest drivers from vendor’s website so the system can work more efficiently.

Windows Service Pack Upgrades: Check the vendor’s website time to time for latest service packs of Windows and update the systems with it.

Windows Update: After updating the service just not finishes the task, one should download and install the windows updates time to time from Microsoft’s site (http://www.update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate/v6/default.aspx?ln=en-us). So the system becomes updated with latest fixes, malicious software removal tool and etc.
Get rid of Temporary files: If the system has multiple profiles on it and expose to internet very frequently then it must contain temporary files that occupies lots of disk space and cache which cause slow performance. So periodically empty all the temporary internet files, files in Recycle Bin, C:\Windows\Temp, C:\Windows\Prefetch and the temporary folder in user’s own profile. Do not forget to remove files with a tilde (~).
To do it more easily and efficiently use a tool called CCleaner which can be downloaded from following URL (http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner).

Delete .zip files: Users unzip files on their system and leave the zip files which occupy the space on disk.

Set Swap files: By default, Windows automatically adjusts your swap file's size to meet its needs. A nearly full hard disk squeezes your swap file, and this can lead to sluggish performance or sometimes a system crash. Freezing the swap file's size may increase system performance because Windows no longer has to adjust the file size, but it also increases your PC's risk of running out of memory. So it is recommended to save only important data (frequently needed data) as permanent.

Remove Old Programs: Periodically remove all unnecessary programs, like games, old versions of same utilities / softwares and etc. For un-installation one can use windows add/remove program utility but it leaves orphaned registry keys so more effective way is to do this by a utility named Revo-Uninstaller (http://www.revouninstaller.com/). This utility not only removes the program but also its registry values.

Registry cleaning: Adding and removing system components leaves orphaned entries in the Windows Registry. This can increase the time your PC takes to boot and can slow system performance. So, one should run registry cleaner periodically. Some good registry cleaning tools are
• RegistryDrill (http://www.easydesksoftware.com/regdrill.htm)
• RegistryCleaner(http://www.eusing.com/free_registry_clean/registry_cleaner.htm)

Disk Defragment: Windows stores files on a hard drive in rows of contiguous segments, but over time the disk fills and segments become scattered, so they take longer to access to keep the disk in shape run Windows' Disk Defragmenter utility. But defragmentation does not defragment swap files so doing it more efficiently use a utility named Defraggler (http://www.piriform.com/defraggler) it will defrag swap files as well.

Removal of duplicate files: Users mostly create multiple copies of same files to avoid so by removing them one should save lots of space on HDD for this use following utilities:

• Auslogics' Duplicate File Finder (http://download.cnet.com/Auslogics-Duplicate-File-Finder/3000-2248_4-10964299.html)
• Duplicate Cleaner (http://download.cnet.com/Duplicate-Cleaner/3000-2248_4-11309622.html)

Avail system’s best performance: Always use system on best performance. For this move right-click My Computer and choose Properties. Click Advanced, and then choose the Settings button under Performance now select “Adjust for best performance”.

Startup Programs: Remove all unnecessary programs from startup. For this move on Start → Run → type msconfig now move on to startup tab and uncheck all unnecessary programs.

Check for memory Leaks: Always keep an eye on the memory leaks. For this one can use system monitor or sysinternal’s utility called Process Explorer which can be downloaded from here (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx).

Antivirus update: Always keep update the antivirus with latest definitions.

Antispyware & Antimalware: Today viruses are not the only risk so keeping update with antispyware and antimalware enables system work more effectively & efficiently. Antispyware and antimalware are as follows

• Malewarebytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org)
• SuperAntispyware ( http://www.superantispyware.com/)
• Hitmanpro's Surfright (http://www.surfright.nl/en/hitmanpro)

Data Placement: Educate the user to place data on his secondary partition and create its shortcut on the desktop. This will also make system faster as C: drive only use for installed applications.

Data Backup: Educate the user to place his/her important data on server and on network shares or in home directory. So they should be on minimum risk.

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