As we all know by now, a clean and healthy computer is essential in having happy and worry-free gaming sessions. Having an ultra-powerful computer is useless if you couldn’t be bothered to take good care of it. The main components of a computer need to be in a clean and dust-free environment with good airflow for them to work in tiptop condition. A dirty and dusty computer is bad news because dust trap heat and that will lead to malfunction. Besides taking care of the hardware, software maintenance and checkup is also important if you want your computer to avoid being infected by malicious software and viruses. If you happen to be a first-time owner of your own computer and are looking for ways to take care of it well don’t worry because I got you covered.
- Clean Your PC and Allow Plenty of Airflow
As I mentioned earlier, your computer and its parts need to be in a clean and dust-free state to avoid any sudden malfunction. Even if your PC is in a clean environment, chances are that it will still trap a bit of dust and dirt. If left attended, the collected dust will block the PC’s airflow and ventilation thus trapping heat and that will lead to parts overheating. So to avoid all that, it is recommended that you should clean your PC at least once every two months depending on the environment. If you have furry pets running around then you should clean on a monthly basis because fur shed from pets tend to find its way into your PC. To clean the PC, use compressed air spray to blow away dust and dirt and then use any small brush to dust away the remaining dirt. You can also use the air spray to clean your keyboard by blowing away any dust that is trapped between the keys. After dusting your keyboard, wipe it with disinfectant wipes. Do the same for your mouse. As for the monitor, you can buy a screen cleaning kit from any computer store and use it to clean your monitor at least once a month. Besides cleaning the PC, you should also ensure that your computer gets plenty of airflow to keep the components cool. Make sure that there is plenty of space around the tower to let the cool air in and the hot air out.
- Monitor Core Temperature
It is always important to monitor your components core temperature to avoid any overheating. When placed under intense load especially during gaming sessions, the processor and graphics card tend to become hot from all the workload. Overclocking will also increase component temperature and without a proper cooling system, it can lead to overheating and malfunction. Liquid cooling although expensive is still the best option for cooling your system especially if you are an overclocking junkie. Open loop cooling system requires you to change the coolant at least once a year whereas closed loop can use the same coolant for up to five years. Even though you have a top-of-the-line cooling system, you should constantly monitor your PC’s temperature. Like I said, dust and dirt collected in your PC will trap heat and that spells danger because overheating can lead to malfunction. There are many software out there that you can use to monitor parts’ temperature but for me, I personally like to use MSI Afterburner. Besides overclocking, you can also use this software to monitor the temperature of your processor and graphics card during gaming. Besides temperature, you can also choose to show CPU and GPU usage, fan speed, clocks and many more. The ideal temperature for any intense workload is 60°C-70°C. 80°C is still fine but if it reaches 90°C or more then you should start worrying. If it reaches that temperature, stop whatever you are doing and then check if your cooling system is working properly. Check also for any dust or dirt trapped in the PC and if so, make sure you get it cleaned to bring down the temperature.
- Install Surge Protectors
If you are living in a place with frequent thunderstorms, a surge protector can be your best friend. A surge protector is a device designed to protect electrical devices, in this case your computer from sudden voltage spikes. Whenever a lightning strikes, it will send electrical surges to any electrical devices connected to the power sockets, overloading them and causing short circuits. This device works by grounding any unwanted voltages above the safe threshold. Of course, the best way to protect your PC from surges is to unplug it completely during a thunderstorm. However, if you absolutely have to keep your PC turned on, you should invest in a surge protector. Bear in mind though that not all surge protectors can withstand the power of a lightning.
- Regularly Scan Computer for Viruses etc.
At this point, I am sure that most of you are familiar with the various forms of malicious software or malware and their danger to computer users. For those of you who are not in the know, a malware generally fits in four different categories; Virus, Worm, Trojan and Drive-by Download and when infected, can and will corrupt systems and destroy data via various methods. A computer virus is a malicious software or malware that, when after hooking itself onto a Windows process and executed, replicates by reproducing itself or infecting other programs by modifying them. A worm is another form of self-replicating software that unlike the virus, doesn’t hook itself onto a Windows process. Worms normally clog up and run in the background of your system. A Trojan disguise itself as one thing but when executed will reveal itself as a malware. You can get infected by Trojans by downloading torrent files and software from sketchy websites. Drive-by Downloads infect your system when you visit a bad web page. The web page exploits a weakness in your browser and thus causes your system to be infected. To protect your computer from such attacks, it is always recommended that you download an anti-virus software. This software works by scanning your system for any viruses or malware and removing them. Schedule your anti-virus to run a full system scan at least once a month to detect any suspicious activities and thus keep your system safe. You should also update your anti-virus regularly to keep up-to-date with any new virus release. There are many popular anti-virus software out there but the one I personally use is Windows Defender which comes together with Windows 10.
- Backup System and Data Regularly
People tend to look down on the importance of regular system backup. They feel that it is a waste of time and energy and it is completely unnecessary. If you haven’t already, you should start backing up your system and important data regularly. This is to avoid any sudden data loss due to malfunctions or virus infections. I mentioned earlier that electrical surges can short circuit your system and cause malfunction. I also mentioned that virus infections can corrupt system data. In both cases, data will be lost if you did not do any backup. By backing up your system, you can retrieve and restore saved data by reverting to system status before the event that caused your system to malfunction or shut down. If you have to a complete reformat due to severe infection, you can restore your system to the way it was without having to start over.
- Defragment Your Disk
If you are still using a hard disk drive (HDD) for your storage system, it is advisable to defragment it at least once every week. The computer writes data to the hard drive via blocks that are ordered sequentially in its spinning platter. Fragmentation happens when those blocks of data gets split from each other by other blocks. This makes the hard drive take longer time to read that data. In other words, fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that can slow down your computer. Defragmentation put those blocks in sequential order, making it easier for the hard drive to read any specific data block. The reason why I specifically mentioned HDD and not solid state drive (SSD) is because you do not have to defragment an SSD. Unlike HDD, an SSD does not use a spinning platter to store data, so it doesn’t take longer time to read data from different parts of the drive. Windows 7, 8 and 10 automatically defragment your hard drives on a weekly schedule. You can change the settings via the Windows’ Disk Defragmenter which you can access by typing ‘defrag’ in the Start Menu or Cortana.
A computer is one of your most prized possession and you must treat it like so. Your computer can be your main business and entertainment hub and you should repay its deeds by constantly taking care of it. By following the steps above, you will have a healthy and clean computer at your disposal that will be at your beck and call for years to come. If you have any suggestions of additional tips as to how to take care of one’s PC, please leave them in the comments below and I will attend to them. Until next time, thank you for your time and have a great day ahead.