- Run Spybot
Click Start | Programs | Spybot Search and Destroy, and start the program. Click the Online button on the left, and click the button to check for updates. When it’s done, make sure they’re all checked and click download updates. It will update and restart the program by itself. You can download spybot here.
Next click the Immunize button, and click Immunize now if needed.
Click Search and Destroy, and Check for problems. It will run for 10-20 minutes. When it’s done it will list problems it has found. It’s almost always safe to just have it fix the problems then. If it gives you a message asking to run next time you reboot, say yes. Plan for it to occupy your computer for 15 minutes or so when it does.
- Check/Install Microsoft anti-spyware software.
If you don’t have Microsoft’s anti-spyware tool installed, get it here. If you do, double click the icon for it in the system tray. It will look like an orange target. Ensure that the auto-protection, auto-update and scheduled scans are enabled, and review the latest scan’s test results.
- Run disk cleanup
Go to Start | My Computer and right click the C drive, and go to properties. Click the disk cleanup button. Select the types of files you want to delete (all are safe) and click OK.
- Open My Documents, and check for files that can be deleted or sound/music/movie files that can (and need to be) stored on your C: drive. Check your desktop for icons that you don’t use, and make sure that you are storing all your word and excel files in your My Documents’ folder.
- Run Windows Update, and make sure to get all the critical updates.
Open Internet Explorer. Click Tools | Windows Update. Let the page load, and click Scan for updates. Make sure all critical updates are selected (if any), and look through and choose any of the other updates that might apply to your situation. Click Review and Install updates. Click Install now. When it’s done, it might ask to reboot. Save your work and close your programs, and say yes.
- Anti-Virus update
If you don’t have any anti-virus, you can download a free version from www.grisoft.com . If you are using AVG anti-virus, start the control center by double-clicking the icon in the system tray or through the start menu. There will be a box for the internal virus database that will tell you if it’s up to date. If it’s not, right click the box and choose update.
Next check the recent virus scans. Click the test center, then test results button and it will list the scans with the most recent at the bottom. Ensure that it found no viruses. If it find a virus, make sure that the auto cleaning worked, or manually try to delete the file yourself.
- Defragment your drive
Click Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Defragmenter. Analyze your disk and defrag it only if windows recommends it.Expect this to take 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of your hard drive and how much space is used.
- Run a thorough Scandisk
Click Start | My Computer. Right-click your C: drive, properties. Click the tools tab, and Check now. Check both boxes and click start. It should pop up a message asking if you want it to run on next boot. Say yes. Next time you reboot, it will scan the drive. Expect it to take 30 to 80 minutes, depending on the size of your hard drive.
Of course, you should be backing up your data more than once a month, but if you are a home user you can get away with doing it less often. At the least, burn a dvd with your most crucial files on it, and it’s not a bad idea to store a backup in another location once in a while.
I will be adding to this as I think of more things to do, and maybe I’ll add an advanced section for power users.
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I have been working with computers and web sites for 20+ years, and have enjoyed mastering many areas of technology. I have been building websites for about 15 years, and working with NetSuite for more than 10. I have worked with dozens of small and medium-sized companies in that time, helping them to understand and leverage the latest tools to grow their business. My business is all about helping you to maximize your business, and I prefer to establish long-term relationships with clients who are dedicated to embracing smart ways to optimize and expand their business.
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