Automated Diagnostics That You Should Run On Your PC

After having looked at ways of freeing up some hard disk space on your PC, we continue with tour of things that you need to do to properly maintain your PC. Computer maintenance is a given for all PC owners, no matter what your expertise level. You don't need to know much in order to schedule tasks with the latest version of Windows, however you should do so because it will make your life easier in the long run.

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1. Defragmentation Scan
A lot of people forget to run a defragmentation scan on their hard drives. What is a fragmented drive? Data is usually written and erased all of the time on a hard drive. This means that your data can be all over the physical hard drive, not in sequence. A defragmentation scan will clear this up and speed up overall performance. Most Windows 7 computers will come by default with these scans enabled. I never had to schedule mine and they've been running every week. We recommend running these weekly when everyone has stopped using the computer, like 1-3AM. That way, no one will be annoyed by the slowness of the computer while it runs a defrag. From the Control Panel, select System and Security. Then select Deframent My Drives under Administrative Tools.

2. Malware Scan
With all of the new viruses and malware becoming active on your computer, it's very healthy to run a regular malware scan. Malware stands short for malicious software, and it can be anything from viruses, like trojans, to keyloggers, which will track the keys you punch on your keypad in an effort to get personal info like your credit cards and passwords to accounts. One of the best anti-malware programs is Ad-Aware. It's free, runs fast, and takes care of all of your malware problems. Malware scans can be scheduled in advance and usually take less time to run than antivirus scans.

3. Antivirus Scan
This is a necessary scan that can take up quite a lot of time, depending on how much data you've got stored on your hard drives. They can be extremely fast, from 15 minutes, to a few days (!) if you go really want to be thorough. All in all, we've found that a moderate scan is best and will highlight any problems you have. The free antivirus scanner that we like is Avast. It's a basic tool that will work for most users. The one I use personally is Kaspersky Anti Virus ($40). It takes care of business, has a bunch of different options and allows you to really find all of the viruses on your computer. In the beginning of this year, I had major virus problems. and Kaspersky was the only antivirus software that was able to tackle them. The viruses actually stopped my other virus scanners from running scans! Naturally, I formatted my drive to ensure that none of the viruses persisted. Just like defrags, it's best to run these scans at night. With a healthy hard drive, this scan shouldn't take more than an hour or so. I tend to schedule these once every 4 days or so.

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4. Check Disk Scan
Check disk is a basic Windows utility scan that checks the health of your hard drive. It's a good scan to run to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed. Windows will run these scans automatically from time to time, but you can also schedule them by using the Task Scheduler from the System and Security tab in the Control Panel.

5. Automated Restore Points
A lot of people overlook restore points. It's something easy to miss because not a lot of people use it. Why? Well, as a rule, Windows will create a restore point whenever a new program is installed so that users can easily rollback the installation if they don't like the program or they are unable to completely uninstall it. One of the first things that you should do if you have problems with your computer, is to restore it to a previous restore point. Having had to use these in the past, I usually allow as much disk space as possible toward this and let Windows create a restore point almost every day. You can easily change these settings in the Restore Point tab.

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