How to Maintain Your Computer

How to Maintain Your Computer

Is your computer running slower than usual or want to start an easy maintenance routine? then look no further 😉

As architecture students, the work we produce requires a large amount of memory to perform particular tasks on most applications. We come across many different types of issues with our computers during our studies. From applications crashing, and tasks taking longer than they should be to hearing about laptops being stolen in the library. Ultimately there are two important things we need to protect. The years of work we produce and the lifespan of our laptops/computers, considering the amount we invest in them.

This blog will discuss a few examples of essential maintenance that you can do without expert help, both digitally and hardware. I believe they work hand in hand, will make your computer run faster, efficient and safer.

Before performing any steps I recommend creating a backup of your laptop/computer. To ensure you are able to retrieve any files you may have accidentally removed. This doesn't tend to happen usually, but it is up to you. You can always create an additional backup or replace the one you created after you have cleaned your computer.

This can be skipped but if you would like to, check out the links below for both Windows & macOS if you are unsure how to do so:

Windows 10 backup

MacOS backup

Computer Maintenance - Digital

Firstly, when it comes to digital maintenance, we tend to start off by going through and removing files stored on our computers that we no longer need. Storage is one of the most common issues we face and there many ways to get around this.

1: Freeing up storage space on your hard drive

Our hard drives tend to store more than just our work, but also our personal files including music, photos, videos and others. So it would be a great idea to go through these and delete any unwanted files or duplicates you can find.

Take your time by going through your files. Make sure to avoid important folders that your computer uses to run. They are mostly found in the System32 folder for Windows. However for macOS, Apple tends to hide them but generally, a great start would be the downloads folder. Here you tend to find old install files, photos and videos.

2: Consider using a digital cleaning/maintenance software

There are many applications on the web and app stores that clean your computer to make it run the best it can. However, the two that I use, found effective are by IObit and Macpaw. Both enable you to use some or all features for free but also have premium plans that unlock more storage or features for you to use.

For Windows users, the application from IObit is called Advanced Systemcare 14. It supports 10/8/7/Vista/XP and the size of the installation file is 47.8Mb. The main features, as well as many others included in the version, are:

  • AI mode: This intelligently cleans and speeds up your computer according to your optimised habits and pc performance status.
  • Software health: Here you can see if there are any software updates available.
  • Real-time tuneup: Monitors your computer performance and releases more RAM and disk space automatically.
  • Large-file cleaner: Locate large files and remove them with ease.

However, if you have an Apple computer, IObit has a macOS version that performs similar tasks called MacBooster 8. The interactive standby by menu bar shows you the memory usage, network status and firewall. Alongside these, you can clean your memory, trash, cache and optimize your DNS settings with one click.

Lastly, the lightning booster rocket is a mode that can make your online surfing feel faster. The application requires OS X 10.9 or later and is compatible with macOS Big Sur.

Another application I became familiar with for Apple computers is CleanMyMac x, by Macpaw. The installation file is around 67.7Mb, the application runs on most of the up to date versions of macOS, including Big Sur. I feel this application offers more features and shows more information about your computer. However, you are limited to how much cleaning you can do without having to purchase a license. In addition, they also have an application for Windows users called CleanMypC. It's great but I found Advanced Systemcare 14 offers similar features for free without being restricted to a certain amount of usage before having to pay for the license.

In comparison, I found that using Advanced Systemcare 14 for Windows and CleanMyMac for macOS were the right choices to go for. For each of them, you are able to do basic cleaning and even more if you wish to.

In addition, there are a lot more features, system information available for you to use and find out about your computer with ease. Macbooster 8 is also great, I would recommend it if you are not too bothered about the extra information and features to clean your computer.

With all the applications, there may be a certain amount of cleaning, features or digital maintenance you can do or access before having to purchase a licence. They offer deals year-round and have different payment methods from monthly to one-off year subscriptions.

Computer Maintenance - Hardware

1. Cleaning your keyboard, openings and mouse

These devices can stop working if you don't clean them. From crumbs in your keyboard to greasy mouses with stuck scroll wheels. Replacing these can cost you from around £20 and that money can be spent instead towards other things. Cleaning your keyboard surfaces and mouse can be easily done with a damp lint-free cloth.

Spray the water onto the cloth not directly onto the keyboard as this will only cause further damage. You can use scented antibacterial wipes on the sides and back if you would like to leave a nice smell but I would gently wipe over it again with a dry cloth. Whereas, for harder to reach areas such as in between the keyboard, compressed air cans are great for this and can be purchased for only a couple of pounds.

Laptop/computer ports and other crevices also need to be cleaned. Not doing so the dusty clogged ports will reduce the airflow that goes in and out of the device, increasing the chances of it overheating. Don't use compressed air as you don't want to be putting the dust back inside your computer. Instead, gently clean them using a microfibre cloth too and if you see any clumps of dirt stuck instead, use a plastic tweezer to carefully remove it. Avoid using metal tweezers as they can cause static issues to your device.

2. Keeping your monitor clean

As much as your keyboard and mouse gets dirty, so does your monitor. We might not realise this until you see dust, fingerprints all over the screen and frame. To clean your monitor, you need to use a microfiber cloth. If there are tough stains, this is where screen cleaner wipes come into hand. Stick to specific LCD computer cleaning products, not doing so may damage your screen and make it expensive for you to repair. Do bear in mind that monitors, especially the LCD can be thin so be gentle when cleaning.

For users who get their monitors dirty quite often, there are smart inexpensive tools you can invest in. I personally use the OXO Good Grips Sweep & Swipe Laptop cleaner. I keep this in my bag and on my desk whenever I need to quickly remove a fingerprint on the screen or dust on my keyboard.

OXO Good Grips Sweep & Swipe Laptop cleaner 
Oxo Electronics Cleaning Brush

Bonus tips & habits

1. Food & beverages - Keep away from your computers/laptops

Whether you're watching your favourite Netflix show or reading an article - stop having drinks or your lunch near your device, it will make a great change to keeping your device clean for much longer. Yes, all of you all-nighter fanatics, I'm looking at you. This is easier said than done but even if you spill a small amount of your drink on to your keyboard, that can be enough to destroy it. If it goes in any deeper you can cause further or future long term damage to other components.

I suggest implementing a rule of having nothing on your desk but water. Water can also be as dangerous to your device as anything else. Make sure to place it on the corner or furthest part of your desk on a drink coaster. As long as it is placed away from your elbows and hands, you will reduce the chance of you knocking the drink over.

When it comes to your 5* meals, having crunchy greasy keyboards is not the best feeling to work with after you have eaten. Therefore, I would strictly eat in the dining/living room. The additional benefit of implementing this habit if you are able to do so is that will mentally help with the stress of staying indoors.

Due to lockdown measures in place and having multifunctional spaces is that, as students especially we find ourselves doing everything in our room. Doing so can destroy the relaxation or feeling of the room. Just imagine working from home then having a pizza for dinner and shortly you want to take a nap. The smell leftover becomes associated with that space and won't make you feel great. If you don't do something about it then you’re going to be dreaming of more pizzas or feeling sick, so it's up to you.

2. Computer/laptop cases & screen protectors

Investing in cases or covers for your devices can be inexpensive and offer great protection. For computers, you can buy a sleeve or cover for your monitor that protects it from dusk building upon it.

Whereas for laptop users, there is a wide range of cases and sleeves to invest in. They can be tough durable plastic that will protect the casing especially when it encounters any knocks or even drops. Some people may not like the chunkiness or look of them and prefer to keep their devices as slim as possible. That's why you can also buy different types of laptop sleeves that can offer similar types of protection and they can also sometimes come with a pouch for your charger. In the end, either option would be great as it will protect your device for longer and it's better than nothing.

3. Software Update hunting

Lastly, keeping your software up to date shouldn't be something to avoid and doesn't take much to do. Most updates can be installed on a scheduled time you like or the next time you restart your device. Avoid doing so when you plan to start using your device and make it the last thing to do. They can range in time, you wouldn't want to do it if you were planning to work and find out it will take some time to finish.

I hope this blog has helped you start thinking about taking care of your device without making it seem like a long process. By doing so you are saving yourself from expensive costs but also rewarding your device for all the work it has helped you produce.

If you have any further questions or love to have a chat, feel free to connect with me via Linkedin and Instagram.

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