Keeping a Well-Maintained Computer

The A+ Exam Cram 6th Edition delves into the maintenance of your PC's hardware and software. This short article summarizes how you can keep your computer running fast and strong. By maintaining the computer, you are hardening it as well, making it more impervious to security breaches. I would estimate that 80 to 90% of the PC problems I see are related to a lack of maintenance. I break it down into six steps (and one optional step):

Step 1. Use a surge protector or UPS: Make sure the computer and other equipment connect to a surge protector, or better yet a UPS if you are concerned about power loss.

Step 2. Update the BIOS: Flashing the BIOS isn’t always necessary; check the manufacturer’s website for your motherboard to see if an update is needed.

Step 3. Update Windows: This includes the latest SPs and any Windows updates beyond that as well as setting Windows to alert you if there are any new updates.

Step 4. Update antimalware: This includes making sure that there is a current license for the antimalware (antivirus and antispyware) and verifying that updates are turned on and the software is regularly scanning the system.

Step 5. Update the firewall: Be sure to have some kind of firewall installed and enabled; then update it. If it is the Windows Firewall, updates should happen automatically through Windows Update. However, if you have a SOHO router with a built-in firewall, or other firewall device, you need to update the device’s firmware by downloading the latest image from the manufacturer’s website.

Step 6. Maintain the disks: This means running a disk cleanup program regularly and checking to see whether the hard disk needs to be defragmented from once a week to once a month depending on the amount of usage. It also means creating restore points, and performing backups.

Step 7. (Optional) Create an image of the system: After all of your configurations and hardening of the OS are complete, you might consider creating an image of the system. Imaging the system is like taking a snapshot of the entire system partition. That information is saved as one large file, or a set of compressed files that can be saved anywhere. It’s kind of like system restore but at another, greater, level. The beauty of this is that you can reinstall the entire image if your system fails or is compromised, quickly and efficiently, with very little configuration necessary – only the latest security and AV updates since the image was created need be applied. Of course, most imaging software has a price tag involved, but it can be well worth it if you are concerned about the time it would take to get your system back up and running in the event of a failure. This is the basis for standardized images in many organizations. By applying mandated security configurations, updates, and so on, and then taking an image of the system, you can create a snapshot in time, which you can easily revert to if necessary, while being confident that a certain level of security is already embedded into the image.

The A+ Exam Cram 6th Edition has lots more information about how to take care of your system. Get yours today!

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