Basic PC Maintenance (Software) – WHS 6

PC maintenance is essential for making sure you have a smooth-running computer. Today on The Wired Homeschool I discuss the necessary software maintenance that everyone should be doing to keep their computer healthy.

Security Updates

Most security updates for your operating system are automatic no matter what platform you;re using (Windows, Apple, Linux) and this is a good thing. However, you should keep an eye out for any “out of cycle) updates that may arise which could require you to download and install a patch.

Not only are your OS updates important but your software that you use with the operating system is important too. Applications like Adobe Reader and Flash, Java, CD/DVD burning software, office productivity tools and more need to be updated. These usually do not come automatically but you can use Mozilla’s online plugin check to make sure the majority of these applications are up to date.

Secunia’s Online Software Inspector is also a great resource for checking for any security updates that may be available for software you’re using (Windows only).


Anti-virus and anti-spyware detecting software is critical for all Windows operating systems. With over 90% of the PC market share they are the largest and most often attacked when it comes to security vulnerabilities. I always recommend that people use Microsoft Security Essentials because it’s free and made my the company that wrote the operating system. It’s not nearly as intrusive as packages from McAfee or Symantec and doesn’t bring your computer to a grinding halt when a scan is in progress. Another great tool is SuperAntiSpyware which will scan and remove any spyware that may be present on your computer. It’s free and easy to use.

While anti-virus software isn’t essential for OS X, I do recommend using it if you interact with a lot of people who have Windows computers. It’s irresponsible to pass along an infected file and using a product likeClamXav will help to prevent you from passing along little nasties to unsuspecting colleagues. CNet has a great list of anti-virus software for the Mac if ClamAV isn’t your cup of tea.

Disk Maintenance and Back-ups

Disk maintenance and backups are important for everyone. These tools will make sure your hard drive is running in top shape and if there is a problem, you’ll be able to recover your data.

Windows comes with a few disk maintenance utilities built-in: chkdsk and defrag. I recommend that you run both of these tools once a month. Another tool you may want to check out is Microsoft’s online repair tool:Fixit.

OS X doesn’t generally require you to be as diligent about disk maintenance. However, there is the built-inDisk Utility that you can run if you’re experiencing problems with your disk.

Backups are important too. I won’t go into too much detail except to say that both Windows and OS X have built-in tools for backing up your data and you should use them regularly. Time Machine for OS X and Microsoft’s Backup (for Windows XPWindows Vista and Windows 7) are the tools you’ll want to use.

I also recommend that you make online backups of your critical data like photos, school records, tax information, important email, etc. To do this you can use any number of automated online backup tools likeMozyCarbonite, or Back Blaze. These are available for a monthly fee.


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