Keep Windows updated with the latest security and operating system patches

Microsoft provides Windows Update which scans your system and updates it with the latest security, operating system, performance and feature updates. It is also capable of updating other Microsoft applications like Office. This is one of the best steps you can take in both protecting your computer and keeping it running at its best.  To access updates on a Windows 10 machine, type settings into the search box, then click on Update & security, then click check for updates.

Note: Depending on your environment your administrators may have disabled your ability to manage updates yourself.

Update malware and anti-virus programs and perform regular scans

These days everyone understands the importance of anti-malware and anti-virus applications. They not only protect us from security related problems, but can also defend against various applications that can degrade system performance. While many of these applications automatically update themselves, and run periodic scans to keep unwanted applications at bay, it’s always good to know what you’re using and how to initiate a scan yourself.

You can usually find an icon for your anti-virus of choice in the task tray (the little area next to the clock). By clicking on this icon you can get options to check for updates, initiate a scan or review the scan history of your application.

Hard drive clean-up

Running low on disk space can impact both performance and overall system usability and stability. Since taking the time to clean up your own files can be a time consuming and cumbersome chore, Windows has some built in utilities that can be used to help remove unneeded system files, logs and temporary files all which can potentially free up quite a bit of space.

To access disk clean-up, simply type “disk cleanup” into the search bar in windows and press enter. It will prompt you for the drive to scan (typically C: by default).

 

 

 

 

 

Once Disk clean-up has finished scanning, you will see a window like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By default, it will pre-select common locations where files can build up and you have the option of selecting a few others if you feel comfortable doing so.

Note: Disk clean-up does not impact your personal files such as Documents, Downloads or items on your desktop.

Pay attention when installing software

While there are many useful applications available for free these days, many applications have started partnering with other software vendors to include their applications in their installers. Often these are benign applications though it’s not uncommon for them to include nuisance applications like digital coupon apps and the like. Sometimes they may also try to slip in malicious applications. Just as it is with every day computer using, paying attention to what you’re doing when installing an application and not simply clicking through it to get done can really pay off.

Notice in our example below how Acrobat Reader, a popular and heavily used application, is also asking to install a product from McAfee. While neither of these applications are malicious, you never know what introducing an unwanted application to your system can do to both performance and security.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep your computer clean

While modern computer systems are more power efficient than ever, they still generate a lot of heat and excessive heat can result in degraded performance or system failure. As computers continue to get thinner and lighter, the complexity of the cooling systems in them increase. Even small amounts of dust, lint and dirt can impact the efficiency of the cooling system and cause it to degrade performance to reduce heat. In some cases, if it gets bad enough, they can even cause system failure. Periodically using a can of compressed air around the vents and ports on your system can help to prevent particulate from building up and impacting performance and stability.

The above comprises only a small list of the tasks that one can do to keep their system clean and running at its best. Depending on how your systems are managed, many of these things can be automated to run automatically-without user intervention. We hope you find these tips useful and as always, if you have any questions about these steps or other system automation tasks, Abel Solutions is here to help.

This Tip was written by Dave O’Shaughnessy, Help Desk Supervisor