Having a computer is great, but you should take the time to do some basic Windows maintenance tasks to make sure your machine is working properly. Otherwise, the few minutes you don’t spend on maintenance could turn into unnecessary hours of work in the future.
Let’s take a look at the Windows 10 maintenance tasks that every PC owner should perform on a regular basis and how to do them efficiently.
Update Windows and Software
Keeping your computer up to date is one of the most basic, but important, Windows maintenance tasks. Windows 10 is great for updating itself, but you should still check from time to time and make sure it’s not closing something.
Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update Windows and click Check for Updates.
Windows will notify you if it finds an update and should install it automatically. Some, but not all, updates require a restart. If there is a new major Windows 10 version available, you can also decide whether to install it here.
While you’re working on an update, it’s a good idea to make sure all the software you install is updated. Some programs, such as Chrome and Firefox, do this automatically. Other programs will ask you to update when you open them.
You can check for updates to most software by visiting Help > Check for Updates or Options > Check for Updates..
Manage Your Email
Email piles up quickly if you don’t stay on top of it. When your inbox is full of automated newsletters and other junk you don’t want, finding the messages that really matter takes longer.
Thus, another useful computer maintenance task is to reduce your regular inbox by unsubscribing to newsletters you never read. Then set up an email filter so that only important messages reach your inbox. Your email app will be a much more pleasant place to be.
Backup Your Data
Backing up data is an important part of routine maintenance. While doing so is usually a set and forgotten operation, it’s a good idea to occasionally confirm that your backup is working. Otherwise, you could be surprised if your PC fails.
Most backup software shows you the status and/or time of the last backup right on the home screen. Open the software of your choice and make sure everything is working fine.
If you are using File History backup in Windows, go to Settings > Update & Security > Backup and select More options to see the most recent backup time.
There’s no reason not to back up your data if you haven’t already set up a backup, now is a great time.
Delete Unnecessary Files and Programs
Experienced Windows users know how the OS builds cruft over time. You can’t prevent some of these, so it’s a good idea to occasionally clean up old data that you’re not actively using. Freeing up space can also increase the performance of your PC if you are working very low.
Luckily, you have some built-in Windows maintenance tools to help you deal with this.
Perform a Windows Maintenance Scan
As part of Windows 10 maintenance, you should do some scans once in a while just to make sure there aren’t any issues you’ve overlooked.
One of them is an antivirus scan. Hopefully you’re on a solid antivirus, which should scan automatically. But it’s a good idea to get a second opinion from a dedicated anti-malware program every once in a while.
Malwarebytes is our top pick for this. The free version only lets you scan on demand, but that’s all you need for the occasional check. Hopefully, it doesn’t find anything on your system, but it’s worth taking the time as it will find what other antivirus software doesn’t.
You should also perform an SFC scan every now and then. This command, short for System File Checker, is a Windows maintenance utility that checks for corrupted system files and repairs them if needed.
Type cmd in the Start Menu, then right click and select Run as administrator. Enter the following line to start the scan, which may take a while:
sfc / scannow
If your computer has a hard disk drive (not an SSD), you can also run a check for bad sectors on your disk. To do this, open a File Explorer window and navigate to This PC. Right-click on your hard drive (likely labeled C:) and select Properties.
In the resulting window, switch to the Tools tab and press the Check button. Windows will probably tell you that it found no errors on the drive; select Scan drive to run a new scan.
Double Check Important Settings
Windows 10’s regular update flow means it’s always changing. While this makes for a lot of great features, it also means that Windows has more opportunity to introduce confusing new options that affect how your computer works.
After you install a major update, you should check the new settings and make sure the settings are the way you want them to be. And if you’ve never really dived into the panel, you should learn what Settings can do and set up your computer however you like.
Another important item that you should check as part of regular PC maintenance is your PC’s startup section. As you install more software, you’re likely to build up a lot of programs that run as soon as you boot up. Too many programs running immediately will slow down your boot time and consume background resources. Check this out sometime and make sure it’s under control.
Clean Your Hardware
No one really enjoys cleaning their computer, but it’s an important step to keep it running at its best. Plus, most devices get pretty dirty over time. You should at least wipe your keyboard and screen, and dust off your computer, a few times per year.
We’ve written a guide to cleaning your laptop and much of the same advice applies to desktops. While under the hood, make sure your setup doesn’t suffer from PC maintenance errors, such as poor ventilation.
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