Some thoughts on PC “care and feeding”

Woman cleaning the roof of Södergran's house
Ah! The joys of cleaning!

Image courtesy of the Flikr Commons & Society of Swedish Literature

You have a computer/laptop. It’s been sitting for awhile. How best to put it back in fighting form?

Well, there’s a bunch of ways but here’s a simple list.

  1. Make a bootable back up of the hard drive
    1. Get an external hard drive (usually USB), that is larger than the drive you want to copy
    2. Get a drive clone/backup tool. One of the better tools for this is Macrium Reflect. It has a nicely featured free edition which should cover the essentials and a bit more.
    3. Install the tool, and then plugin the drive. The drive may take awhile to appear the first time.
    4. Use the tool to make the back up (I recommend a ‘clone’ for these one off back ups). If you are feeling a little unsure Macrium has a rather nice user guide.
    5. When the backup is done, safely remove the drive, unplug from the computer and set aside in a safe place.
  2. Get Ccleaner from Piriform
    1. The free version will do 99.9% of what you want
    2. Install and click “Run Cleaner” (BUT read the next like before you click)
      1. By default this will clear your web browsing history and cache, so you may need to log back into your favorite sites after the clean
    3. Watch the cruft fly away.

These steps are the most basic way of clearing up a Windows computer. Some like to go a step further to check the actual health of the drive with tools like SpinRite, but that’s not a necessary step, as it will take the computer out of commission for a long time.

If you want to keep the clone backup “current” make a point of plugging it back in every week or so and running the backup software again.

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