We’re accustomed to car maintenance, house cleaning, correct filing, and proper equipment storage. Unfortunately, few of us are well-versed in applying these same important upkeep tasks to our computers to keep them running faster, longer, and with fewer issues. Join us for a webinar outlining how to organize your computer, clean it both inside and out, and ask the right questions when you reach out for help.
Looking for more information on computer safety and maintenance? Check out our related webinar Top 10 Security and Password Tips for Small Business presented by Forrestt Williams.
Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)
- File Organization and Reminders
- Free Up Space Now for Windows
- Create a System Image
- Update Drivers
- Pay Attention to Software Installed
- Remove Unused Applications and Other Junk
- Optimize Startup
- Physically Clean Your Computer
- Restart Computer and AutoCAD
- Call IT When You Need To
0:00 – 5:04: Intro/TOC
Recap of our Top 10 Security and Password Tips for Small Business webinar (4:02)
This webinar covered the following important practices:
- Windows updates and patches
- Spyware and Antivirus updates
- Application updates
- Backing up your data
5:05 – 8:57: File Organization and Reminders
Organization includes (5:20):
- Knowing where files are and that they are being backed up.
- We recommend using the Documents folder and backing it up periodically.
- Year folders for items such as photos and projects.
- _Setup_ folder for all installers.
- Make a text file with all the info you might need, such as serial number, product key, password, etc.
- All files should be organized so they are backed up. (Do you know where your custom fonts are?)
- Clear out your Downloads folder.
Reminders and life hacks (7:10):
- Reminders can include:
- Calendar reminders
- Task scheduler
- Use any tool you can can, such as:
- Chrome account to synchronize all your devices and back up your bookmarks.
- Link your password management account, and you only need one password.
- Remember file organization – have a text file with the reinstall steps.
- If your IT does the work, ask him/her to print that text file and go over it with you.
8:58–10:37: Free Up Space Now for Windows
Easy cleanup (9:10):
- Disk cleanup is being deprecated. (It won’t be around forever.)
- New: Free Up Space Now (with Windows 10 April 2018 update):
- Only shows things you can remove.
- Scans both user files (such as Recycle Bin) …
- … and system files (such as old Windows installations).
- Located at: Start/Settings/System/Storage/Free Up Space Now
- Or open the Start menu and type “Storage.”
- Go ahead and remove everything, except:
- System Restore Points you may want to keep.
- Check your Recycle Bin before removing the files permanently.
- Previous Windows installations. (You won’t be able to downgrade to the previous Windows update, but it’s automatic after 10 days.)
- The Internet files it refers to are for Internet Explorer and/or Edge.
10:38 – 13:06: Create a System Image
A system image is a full copy of your computer as it is right now to fall back on if and when things go wrong.
A consensus of or IT staff agrees that system images have supplanted system restore points as the go-to fallback option.
More info on system images (11:00):
- A system image takes a picture of exactly of how your computer is right now.
- Make one when you have your system running the way you like it.
- Find it in: Control Panel/Backup and Restore (Windows 7)/Create a System Image
- Have an external hard drive or flash drive big enough for your whole computer.
- Your external storage should be detected automatically.
- Click Next and Start Backup.
- This will take a while, but you’ll have a complete copy of your computer.
- Make sure to have notes on how to restore this backup, and test it out.
Mac users: virtual machine (VM) backups (12:37):
- You can create a backup of your entire Windows computer.
- To create it: Parallels/Window/Control Center/Right-Click VM/Clone…
- With our suggested setup, the PVM file for your VM is generally smaller than 100GB, meaning you can have backups on flash drives.
- Great for that nuclear option.
VM backups are how the largest companies stay working even in a catastrophic event!
13:07 – 15:09: Update Drivers
Software driver updates (13:19):
- Device Manager
- Know which devices you have.
- Check whether they are working properly.
- Update automatically.
- Or install manually.
- Some software comes with driver update software.
- You just need to install the graphics driver – be careful.
- Do not install experimental or development drivers.
- You can use it, or you can decide it’s not needed.
- You can use the information found in Device Manager to look for your drivers.
- Go to the manufacturer website.
- Do a manual search.
- Pick your graphics card.
- Download and install the latest driver.
15:10 – 17:25: Pay Attention to Software Installed
Your Web browser is typically your second-most-used application next to AutoCAD/Land F/X, and is probably open all the time. Don’t let it eat all your resources!
- Try to be observant when installing.
- See whether an advanced install option is available.
- Look for checkboxes.
- Mostly, don’t just rapid-fire click “Yes.”
- Yes, it takes a long time, but in the end, you will be happy you did it.
- If you can get them, you can uninstall them.
- Extra software installed as a “bonus.”
- Trails of software you don’t use (such as McAfee when you already have antivirus software).
- Manufacturer-specific software such as Dell driver updater.
- Even reputable vendors will bundle software. (Candy Crush, anyone?)
- Windows 10 is also guilty.
You can always reinstall anything you end up needing or wanting.
17:26 – 1956: Remove Unused Applications and Other Junk
Dump that junk (17:38):
- Preinstalled trials
- Stuff you haven’t used in years
- Apps & Features (Windows 10) or Programs & Features
- Both show installed programs.
- Apps & Features also allows uninstalling Microsoft “features” (mostly junk):
- Sort by date installed.
- Do you remember ever using the program?
- Try finding and starting it up.
- Google it.
Remember, if all your installers are in your _Setup_ folder, you can always reinstall!
Less bloat means more space on your hard drive and a smoother, faster PC.
19:57 – 21:41: Optimize Startup
Make it faster (20:08)
- We used to use MSConfig to clean stuff up.
- Now the startup programs are in Task Manager.
- You can check whether an app is frozen, or whether a specific resource is maxed out.
- Restart Chrome.
21:42 – 23:54: Physically Clean Your Computer
- Heat and dust are your enemies.
- You run your computer hard every day. Give it the care it needs.
- Longer computer life.
- Get a can of compressed air.
- Shut down and unplug computer.
- Short bursts of air and hold fans so they don’t spin.
- Make sure to get that heat sink clear of dust dinosaurs.
- Metro Vac ’n Blo
- Hurricane Canless Air
23:55 – 25:21: Restart Computer and AutoCAD
- Shut down at night and give it a rest.
- Restarting clears out the cache – the internal short-term memory.
- Heard of drawing corruption?
- Shut down and restart AutoCAD every time you open a drawing.
- Chrome: We love it, but it’s a hog and will crash your system over time.
20 to 30% of issues we see in a given day are related to drawing corruption. 90% of the drawings we see have corruption that’s been passed around since 2007.
25:22 – end: Call IT When You Need To
You’re an expert in your field. Let someone who is an expert in theirs fix your computer.
- We all specialize. That’s how society works.
- If you don’t feel comfortable doing any of these steps, call an IT tech.
- Small companies don’t need a full-time IT, just like you don’t need a full-time mechanic.
- But … when your nine blows up, it’s good to have someone to fix it up.
- Land F/X Extended Service policy.
- Vet your IT. He/she should:
- Make a setup folder for you.
- Include a text file with instructions.
- And all install files.
- Make backups of all your files.
- Make you guides on how to restore from scratch.
- Make a procedure to restore the server backup to a workstation with a large secondary drive (shadow backup).
- Make sure he/she goes through it with you.
- Feel comfortable with the process.
- Practice – do a dry run.
- Feel comfortable with the procedure, with the person, and with the guides you create together.
Don’t be afraid to reinstall everything.
Tutorial on how to use Task Scheduler (28:30)
Question: Will a task scheduled for off hours turn the computer on? (35:34)
Answer: There is an option to wake the computer to complete the task, but it won’t necessarily turn the computer on. To get around this, you can either restart your computer at lunch and leave it on overnight, or schedule a task that actually does turn the computer on.
Keep in mind that you can schedule tasks that will only run if the computer has been idle for a set amount of time. (37:30)
Question: Why should I keep my old install files around? (38:17)
Answer: They will allow you to reinstall the relevant programs without downloading them again, which will save time. You can look at the file date to see whether it’s in fact an obsolete installer, but it should also be accompanied by a text file that will tell you where to download a new version.
Question: If I back up to the cloud, do I still have to back up to an external hard drive? (39:45)
Answer: You can never have too many backups. It’s a good idea to have multiple backup methods, which include an external hard drive or extra workstation, etc.
Depending on how you are backing up, it’s a good idea to have a restore file. It’s a good idea to be able to revert to a complete copy of your computer rather than installing each item and restoring each file separately. Also be prepared for your system image to be corrupt as well, so make sure you’re still making good backups.
If you ever need your online backup sent to you on a physical drive, be prepared to pay for it. It’s a good idea to organize your backups by year, which will tell you what actually needs to be restored immediately and, as a result, save you money. (43:30)