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Maintenance-Musts you should live by

Jeff Davis, Senior EditorThe Help ChannelSpending $19.95 to change your oil every 3,000 miles helps maintain your car's ability to run properly.
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor
Jeff Davis, Senior Editor
The Help Channel

Spending $19.95 to change your oil every 3,000 miles helps maintain your car's ability to run properly. Maintaining your PC is just as easy. Here are my "maintenance musts" to keep your PC running right.

Hard Disk and System Tune-Up
You don’t need to wait until your PC clocks 60K keystrokes to do these essential maintenance tasks. Do these weekly or monthly depending on how often you use your PC.

  1. Check your hard disk for errors and file fragmentation.
  2. Keep an eye out for "bad clusters." If the number of bad clusters grows, your hard disk may be on its last cyberlegs. Click for full story.

  3. Make backups of your important files. Creating backups will keep you sleeping soundly at night, and prevent avoidable disasters. Click for full story.

  4. Get yourself some anti-virus software and use it. You can find a motherload of anti-virus shareware and tutorials in the Help Channel’s Anti-Virus section. Click for full story..

Rules of the Road
You can easily prevent system crashes and long-term problems if you are aware of some basic rules of computing:

  1. Power down correctly.
  2. Never turn off your computer while Windows is running, wait until you get the “It is now safe to turn off your computer” message.

  3. Don't ignore error messages. Write them down word for word, and seek help! If you've rebooted your machine 10 times in a row, and you keep getting an error message, get the clue: The problem isn't going to fix itself.

  4. Don't eat or drink while you're at the keyboard. There are few things worse than coffee drowning your hardware. (And no, your computer does not come equipped with a cup holder!)

  5. Get a surge protector or an uninterruptible power supply. If you leave your computer and peripherals plugged into extension cords and wall outlets, you're begging for disaster.

  6. If you must move your computer, do it gently. Use appropriate padding and wrapping when you have to take the computer on the road.

  7. Get a can of compressed air. And use it to blow the dust off and out of your computer.

These are just a few of the maintenance tasks you can do to keep your PC in the pink for a long, healthy life. For a full maintenance guide, check out my latest Jeff Knows How column. Click for full story.

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