MAG_8520With any eLearning activity, the computer is a student’s most important learning tool. In fact, a computer can be considered a learning space, just like the virtual classroom. So the next time you have to organize the classroom, whether you are a teacher, Lab Attendant or Student, it is important that you take fifteen minutes off to tidy up your computer.

If you’ve never had a frustrating moment with your computer, then you’re one of the fortunate few. Most people face inexplicable slowness and mind-boggling freezes at more than one point with every machine they own. While these troubles may seem inevitable, you can avoid them or at least cut back on their frequency. Just remember that your computer needs care and maintenance just like any other piece of technology. Below is a list of regular maintenance that you can perform yourself on a regular basis to ensure that your computer continues to work properly and run smoothly.

  1. Always “shut down” your computer properly.  You never want to turn your computer off using the power switch until Windows has had a chance to shut down properly.  By using the power switch you aren’t allowing Windows to properly shut down which can cause Hard Drive errors and can result in a number of issues, one being data loss.  If you do run in to issues with your computer and need to shut it down manually you want to do it from the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete twice in a row.  This will reboot your system.  The only time that it is safe to shut your PC down using the power switch is when your computer totally freezes and your hard drive is not running, you can tell this by the lack of lights on the Hard Drive blinking.
  2. Invest in an “uninterruptable power supply” or UPS.  This is much better than a typical surge protector because if and when you do lose power it has a battery back up that allows you enough time to save your data and shut down properly.  For more information see my blog on UPS’s.
  3. Have and run an antivirus program on a regular basis.   It is very important to keep your virus protection up-to-date because new viruses, malware and spyware are being created all the time and you never know when you might get infected.
  4. MAG_8578Clean your computer. Technology accumulates dust, grime, fingerprints, and more, so don’t forget to clean it often. Gently wipe the dust off of the monitor with a dry cloth or a cloth with screen cleaner. You may use a mild disinfectant on the keyboard and mouse without getting either wet. For a more thorough clean on the keyboard, use a can of compressed air or a blower to blow the dust out of it.
  5. Uninstall any programs that you don’t use. Audit the applications installed on your computer every three to six months. The location of your list of programs will vary depending on your operating system, but every computer has an easily accessible list of all installed programs. You’ll even see how big the files are and the last time you accessed the programs, so you can decide if you really need to keep each one around. You’ll find a relatively simple interface that lets you uninstall and remove unwanted software. Whether you remove two programs or twenty, you should notice an overall difference in your everyday experience. 
  6. Defragment your computer on a monthly basis.  This will help keep your hard drive clean and running smoothly as well as helping to prevent a possible crash.
  7. Do not unplug connected peripherals while the computer is on.  You can damage the connector sockets on your motherboard by unplugging them improperly.
  8. Backup your data on a regular basis.  At some point in your life you will experience a computer crash, it’s pretty much inevitable.  We tend to store massive amounts of data on our computers and think that it will be safe, but it’s not.  With the better part of our lives being electronic and digital, these days, we forget that if our computer crashes that we can lose things like pictures and videos, which if lost are irreplaceable memories.  We also tend to keep a good amount of financial data on our computers and its better to back it up on to disks and delete if from our hard drives; that way we can somewhat protect our personal data if the computer is hacked or if it crashes.

By taking the time to clean and organize your hardware and software, you can be sure that your computer is there for you when you need it. By getting more involved in computer care, you’ll have the added benefit of a chance to learn more about your machine and how it works, making you an even more educated user. As you continue learning about your system, you’ll discover new ways to take care of your machine, and following these seven tips will get easier.