Preventive Maintenance

Preventive Maintenance is taking regular action to take care of your computer before problems occur.

Following these few steps will decrease the chances of your computer having major problems down the road.

All Users

Restart your computer. It is best to restart your computer on a regular basis, at least once per week. Windows computers especially benefit  from regular restarts.

Monitor your hard drive. Keep at least 10% of your hard drive's capacity free. On a 40 GB drive, this means you need to keep at least 4 GB free.

Let your laptop battery run low on occassion. To keep your laptop battery in good condition, allow it to run down to a low charge and recharge it to varying levels, rather than to the same level every time.

Backup, backup, backup. Although not really a "maintenance tip", it's important to never rely on only one copy of your important documents (such as your doctoral thesis), and to not rely on ACU's backup program, which is a safety net, but not a fail-proof safety net. If you care about your documents, it's best to store them on at least three different media (hard drive, network drive, CD, flashdrive, as a Google Email attachment, etc) stored in three different locations. When working on a document, you might want to consider saving the document every five minutes or every paragraph, alternating between document names (save it as "MyDoc.doc", then as "MyDoc-2.doc" the next save, then back to "MyDoc.doc" the third save, etc), or better, alternating between two locations (the local hard drive, a network drive, then the local hard drive, etc).

Windows Users

Clean the hard drive of temporary files. Your computer collects temporary files that can waste a good portion of your hard drive space.

To do this, you need to run the Windows Disk Cleanup Utility. Open "My Computer" and right click on the main hard drive. Select "Properties" and you will find the "Disk Cleanup" button on the "General" tab. Click once on the "Disk Cleanup" button to initiate the process. You can also set this to run automatically by going to "Start", "All Programs", "Accessories", "System Tools", "Scheduled Tasks". Double-click the icon labeled "Add Scheduled Task" which will initiate the "Scheduled Task Wizard". Click "Next" and choose "Disk Cleanup" from the populated list. In the next window you can specify how often you want it to run, then click "Finish".

Defragment your hard drive. When you save a file, your computer will often split it into different physical locations on the hard disk. This is known as fragmentation. It is problematic because being split into different places makes it take longer to read the file. When you defragment your hard drive, it puts the fragments together requiring less work of your computer.

To do this, you need to run the Windows Defragment Utility or Diskeeper (an ACU-supported application). Open "My Computer" and right click on the main hard drive. Select "Properties" and you will find the "Defragment Now..." button on the "Tools" tab. (This should automatically open the Diskeeper application if you have it installed on your computer.) Choose the option in the bottom-left navigation pane to "Set it and Forget it." Select the top option, "Primary Defragmentation Job Properties" and check the box next to "Enable the Primary Defragmentation Job to run on selected volumes". You can select how often you want the defragmentation to run. Click "OK" when finished.

Check the hard disk for errors. Errors can occur on your hard drive and if not corrected may cause quite a problem. This task can occur weekly or monthly if you prefer.

The error-checking utility can be found in the properties of your hard drive. Open "My Computer" and right click on the main hard drive. Select "Properties" and you will find the "Check Now..." button on the "Tools" tab. Click the "Check Now..." button to initiate the process. Select the two options "Automatically fix file system errors" and "Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors". Click "Start".

Don't install unnecessary programs. Try to refrain from installing programs like screen savers, instant messaging programs, desktop search utilities, toolbars, mouse cursors, and weather buglets, etc. Although these things may not cause problems, they've done so often enough that they have the reputation for causing problems. They also make trouble-shooting and fixing problems harder.

You shouldn't need to need to apply System Updates or Microsoft Office Updates on your ACU-owned Windows computer. Since ACU-owned computers are generally members of the ACU "network", this step should be automatic and you won't have to worry about doing this manually.

Macintosh Users

Apply System Updates. Go into System Preferences, then Software Update, and click on "Check Now". If any updates are available, you can install them. There's a good chance that this feature has been set to check for updates automatically.

Apply Microsoft Office Updates. Go into the hard drive, then Applications, then "Microsoft AutoUpdate," and click on "Check Now". There's a good chance that this feature has been set to check for updates automatically.

Repair Disk Permissions. Generally this is not needed unless your Mac is exhibiting odd behavior, such as certain programs not running properly. Go into the hard drive, then Applications, then Utilities, then start "Disk Utility". Highlight your boot partition and click on "Repair Disk Permissions". If you have multiple partitions or multiple drives, this screen may be confusing. If it is,  contact the Helpdesk for further assistance.

You don't need to worry about cleaning out temporary files or defragging your hard drive on your Mac.

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