14 Easy Steps to Computer Care: Tech Support Cheat Sheet

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Whether it’s a fresh out of the box desktop or a well-loved, five-year-old laptop, computers need a little care to run efficiently. Basic computer care is simple and extends the life of your computer. When we say computer care, we’re talking about both software and hardware. This list covers the basics to keep your machine running as well as possible.

1. Get antivirus software to secure your computer from the insidevirus scan

Software is the programming side of the computer, the data that makes up what you see on the screen, your files, etc. Antivirus software helps catch viruses in suspicious downloads or the occasional website that looks too good to be true. While antivirus software isn’t always cheap — though there are some free programs available — $50-$100 a year is a lot cheaper than potential identity theft or damage to the computer’s hard drive. Also, this does not apply to only PC users, Macs need protection from malware, too. CNET has downloads available for a vast array of security software.

2. Perform regular software updates to help it run smoothly

windows update

Keeping the software on your computer up to date helps it run better because updates often contain fixes for bugs and glitches of the previous version. They also improve security. However, if you know you’re on a stable version of a software, it can sometimes be a good idea to wait just a little bit to update, as sometimes new bugs, glitches, or security vulnerabilities are introduced inadvertently with an update. That said, don’t wait too long — if anything is glaringly wrong with the software, you may hear about it within a couple days of the updates release.

Updating is also important for your web browser. Nothing slows down an Internet connection on a computer or puts it at risk like an out-of-date, old browser. Update to the latest version of your preferred browser for better speed and safety. Many software programs including browsers can be set to update automatically.

3. Do your computer maintenance regularly

Depending on your computer, this is a vital step. On PCs this means defragmenting your computer and cleaning the registry regularly, fortunately this entails little more then going into your computers control panel, and telling your computer to perform these tasks on itself. PC users can also use programs like Advanced SystemCare. For people on both sides of the PC versus Mac divide, this means regular scans and updates.

4. Secure the Wi-Fi

Wi-fi is that magical Internet source that allows you to stream Netflix on your laptop while in bed. Make sure your system is safe by giving it a good password. A good password has more than just letters so throwing in some capital letters, numbers, and special characters is a good idea.  Also encrypting it — if possible — is a good step. Another, even more secure option is to set up your router not to broadcast it’s SSID, so users who don’t know the name of the router don’t still see it and won’t try accessing it.