Performing Computer Maintenance

As computers are used over the months, they can build up dirt and dust. These can inhibit airflow throughout the inside of the computer case resulting in poor cooling performance. If left dusty and dirty, parts can start failing and the computer can randomly shut down from overheating. Computers can also see a decrease in speed from fragmented files and programs like spyware, worms, and even viruses. Thankfully, there are several easy ways to combat dust buildup and keep your computer running fast. General computer maintenance is a must for keeping your system at its peak performance.

Using Compressed Air

Compressed air

A very important and often overlooked cleaning technique is using a can of compressed air to blow the dust and dirt off of parts inside your computer. Compressed air cans are inexpensive, easy to use, and very effective. Just be sure to use them in a well-ventilated area because too much exposure to the compressed air can result in light headedness and dizziness. To use the can, remove the long tube from the side of the canister and attach it to the nozzle. Pull off the computer case and lay the computer on its side. Aim the compressed air can at the processer fan, video card, and hard drive as these devices are notorious for collecting dust. If some dust lands inside the case, remove it and throw it into the trash, in other words, don’t leave loose debris sitting in the case. If the dust is being stubborn on one of your components, feel free to remove the device from the case and spray the compressed air at it from all directions. This will ensure the device is as clean as possible.

Defraggmenting the Hard Drive

Another good maintenance tip is to defragment the hard drive every month or so. Fragmentation of files degrades computer performance and the best way to counteract this is to defragment the hard drive. The newer operating systems enable you to set a time of day to perform this task, preferably when you are not using the computer. If your computer shows fragmentation beyond 60%, you will notice a significant improvement in speed after the defragmentation is complete. The best part is you don’t have to sit at the computer while the defragmentation program is running, just start it and walk away, the rest is done automatically.

Virus Scan and Spyware Removal

One more maintenance tip is to run a virus/spyware scan on your computer every month. This will help remove unnecessary files on your machine and improve performance in the process. These programs help detect not just viruses but also Trojan horses, worms, and spyware, all of which can slow your computer over time. An excellent spyware search and removal program can be found at This program will search your computer for the above mentioned files and remove them.

Operating System Updates

Windows Updates

Periodically checking for software updates for your operating system is another good maintenance tip. Windows based operating systems use the Windows Update feature to search for the latest patches and fixes released by Microsoft. These are free and very helpful because known exploits in the software code are fixed and this prevents viruses, worms, and spyware from entering your system. I recommend checking for updates every week at the minimum. You simply download the update and then install it, some updates require a restart of your computer.


Keeping your computer at peak performance is really simple. There is the physical aspect of cleaning dust and debris from inside the case and also the software side of defragging and removing unnecessary files on your system. Both of these help keep your computer zipping through various webpages and playing your favorite games at blazing fast speeds.

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