The DIY Computer Maintenance Checklist

Other than keeping your computer physically clean, regularly scheduled maintenance on your PC will help it keep running longer and faster, just like your car. Here's our checklist of what to check up on your PC on a regular basis.

The amount of germs on our computers and gadgets can be absolutely disgusting. Whether you arm yourself with traditional cleaning supplies or even toiletries, get your PC cleaned up on the outside and then tackle the software itself too to keep your PC humming along.

Clean Your Keyboard & Mouse
First make sure your computer is off so there's no power to it and you don't accidentally type out and send an e-mail to your ex asking them to come back. Then try one of many methods to clean your keyboard, including putties, cotton swabs and Dremels, erasers, knives, adhesive, compressed air, upside down and shaking, vacuum, and even a mascara brush or dishwasher! While our mice may no longer have rollerballs in them to collect insane amounts of dustballs, make sure your laser is clear of dust as the lens area tends to get a bit crammed. Dust on the underside can affect the smooth sliding performance of the mouse as well. Wipe down all the surfaces to keep it as germ free as possible too.

Clean Your Monitor
Use a soft cloth and be careful not to scratch your monitor with abrasive cleaning supplies. Don't press too hard and damage the screen. Also if you're using a liquid cleaner, avoid streaks and don't use too much or the liquid will drip down into the monitor beneath the bezel and potentially ruin your screen. Cotton swabs are a good way to get dirt and grime out from the tight creases where the screen and bezel meet. Don't forget to clear out any fan vent spaces around the monitor casing as well.

Clean The Insides Out
Make sure you've disconnected power to your PC and then open her up and use a compressed air can to get all of the dust out. Be careful not to get all the blowback right into your face as a lot of dust will likely come flying out. Make sure to check and clear out any dust bunnies hanging out in fans (your CPU, power supply, video card and more likely have fans) and get all the nooks and crannies cleared out. The cleaner your PC the better it can breath and let the heat out to operate properly. Try not to touch or break anything in there while you're at it, many parts are small and irreplaceable.

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Update Your Software & Scan For Viruses
As annoying as all of those Adobe Reader and Windows Updates are, they are a line of defense for your computer against viruses, malware, spyware, and other bad guys that just want to ruin your day, so go ahead and check to make sure your software is all up to date. Install and schedule daily virus/spyware scans (we highlight three free options), making sure to regularly update your definition files.

Remove Unused Programs
Along the way you've probably installed or downloaded tons of programs that you may not use anymore. Uninstalling unneeded programs not only clears up hard drive space but may make your computer run faster, especially if it launches at startup. Do you really need that trial photo editing program or game anyway? Besides, so many applications are available online and for free, who needs to buy software!

Clear Your Temp Folders, Files & Cache
Chances are you've got oodles of wasted space taken up by temp files that just never got cleaned out for any number of reasons (unexpected shutdowns, crashes, general programming inefficiencies, etc.). Go clear your browser cache, temp folders, and other unneeded files to give your PC a nice needed colonic.

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Organize Your Files
Just as it's easier to find your papers and documents when you've got a good filing system in real life, maintaining a system for your computer files helps you stay organized. Create a system that works for you, whether it's a separate drive with folders for photos and files or a method of your own devising, choose whatever works for you so you're faster on the computer and not wasting time rooting around for files.

Regularly Scheduled Maintenance
Now do all of this on a regular basis to keep everything running smoothly. Not only do you maximize the lifespan of your expensive computer but you also have a system that works better and faster for you, saving your time and sanity. So stay on top of your scheduled maintenance and happy cleaning!

MORE COMPUTER CLEANING ON APARTMENT THERAPY
How-To Handbook: Quick & Easy Computer Clean Up
Why a Clean Computer is More Than Cosmetic
The Best Ways To Clean Your Computer & TV
How Chinese Take-Out Will Help You Clean Your Computer
Using a DSLR Air Blower to Clean Your Computer Monitor
Two Toiletries To Clean Your Computers With

(Images: Shutterstock)

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