Computer Preventive Maintenance – Free and Inexpensive Resources

So your computer is making you a little nervous. The blue screen of death seems to appear a bit more often than you'd like and things aren't quite as they were. Cheer up Bunkie, there are things we can do, and the more we observe, the better the results. First, when does it happen? At the beginning? Or later on? Is there an odor associated with ti?

Early problems are usually caused by software. Undo the last thing you did (Roll back any driver changes, put back the old mouse, delete the last program installed. Chkdsk – yes i know i can take forever, do it, clean up your files with a program such as CCcleaner. Clean your registry and remove any spy ware you may have accumulated. Check and use the free resources at major geeks( Link below) and scan clean and protect the computer. at sometime you may have to bail. More in a bit.

Most problems exacerbate with time, as heat accumulates in the unit. Vacuum all grids and remove as much dust as you can as heat is always the enemy of electronic equipment and listen to the noises that come out of the unit. A constant rumble is a fan being noisy. If you the sound of a distant jet plane that comes and goes, especially when you do something with your computer, a bearing in your hard drive is going. It could fail overnight or run for a year, but it is unnerving and it will fail. We'll see about changing the drive in a bit.

If it tends to get worse with heat it is time to open the baby. Use a new or very good #2 screwdriver tip (Also known as a cross point). Most screws on a computer are 2 screwdriver slots at 90 degrees, a few are Phillips heads. A number 2 cross point will operate well with both types of heads. Some computers have hand twist tabs holding the back to the side or to the front, or clips that you release with a screwdriver. If it feels wrong or it is fighting you too much get a friend with more experience to help you or call a tech.

Once it is open locate the CPU – it is usually directly on the main board and it will have heat sinks or fan aided heat sinks or Peltier device assisted cooling. All this equipment is also affected by dust accumulation. Use a dry, soft brush and tidy it up. If the heat sink or fan has slipped off or clipped half way out re-center it and make sure it is in the way it is supposed to be. If the heat sink has separated and the white stuff is dry you will need heat sink compound. Radio Shack or equivalent has it or if you saved the ones they throw in with assorted equipment use that. Wipe your hands after using heat sink compound then wash then and wipe them again. The stuff is hard to get rid of (It is supposed to adhere tenaciously to surfaces)

For future (And present) protection there are a few steps you need to do. If you don't have, get at least a power surge protector or, even better, an ups power supply. Back up your drive. There are some free ware around – go to the major geeks. And get all you need from their free ware to protect your unit. I have no connection to the geeks, but I know that at the Major geeks you'll find software to scan for virus and spy ware. Download it and use it – there are a lot of them free and excellent. Check your registry and clean it up. If you use cc cleaner remember that if you clean all your cookies you'll have to input your passwords all over again. If you have no virus protection or your protection has expired, you may want to try Avast! A very good virus program. If your drive is noisy and you decide to change it or if your computer refused to work you have to reload the operating system or use the Ghost back-up the drive to repair a noisy one or to upgrade (Ghost is available on a free 15 day trail).

To change the drive, insert a drop cloth under the area where you are going to be working, (Electronic circuit boards do not like loose screws dancing about),
Remove the drive by removing a small screw that locks the rail. Pull the old one out and remove the cable. Replace the cable on the new unit, with due care not to invert it and turn the computer on with the 1st backup disk in the drive and let it happen. But if your computer only seems slow by comparison? Upgrade?

To upgrade or not to upgrade is quite a decision. besides a bigger drive and more memory you also may need a new video card (A lot of programs refuse to work with not too old cards). Every time a new operating system is released by Microsoft it wants more memory and faster cpu's.. Games want faster video cards with more separate memory – and it isn't just games, when you go to some of the new virtual worlds like Second Life, you need the faster cards. So, by and large, it is better a lot of the time to get the old computer working as well as it can and use it as a second computer. Believe me when that new computer keels over and has to be sent in on warranty, you'll be glad to have back up (This article is written on my back up )


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