Basic Computer Maintenance Tips

Computers have a way of causing frustration previously unknown in the workplace. Little machines that are supposed to make our lives easier frequently end up making projects more complicated and time-consuming than if we had done them with simple tools like typewriters, ledger paper, and calculators.

From time to time, your computer sends undecipherable messages, produces results exactly the opposite of what you were expecting, or just locks up altogether. A familiar solution offered by the tech support staff is – REBOOT.

Before you turn gray or heave the machine out the window, here are a few simple routine maintenance tips and record keeping ideas to help you and your computer -- and your business -- run faster and smoother.

  • RESTART YOUR COMPUTER DAILY. Take the time to shut down your computer before you leave each evening. If you leave the machine turned on overnight, give it a fresh reboot or reset in the morning.

  • CLEAN OUT YOUR TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES weekly. If you're using Microsoft's Explorer, you can delete these temporary files by following the menu items labeled Internet/Options. Netscape users should choose Edit/Preferences/Advanced/Cache.

  • CLEAR AND CLEAN OUT THE SYSTEM TRAY monthly. You may enjoy those funny e-mail attachments from friends and family, but the code for can linger on your computer and slow your response time. You can remove these unwanted programs by clicking the Start button, choosing Settings, Control Panel, and clicking Add/Remove Programs.

  • LABEL ALL PLUGS AND WIRES on the cords connecting your office computer and other electronic equipment. Include phones, faxes, computers -- everything. Then draw a diagram showing where everything goes. That way, when you send something out to be repaired or upgraded, you'll be able to plug the equipment back in quickly and properly. One way of labeling is to use color-coded dots created with enamel paint or even nail polish to mark the cords and the places where they connect. Another option is to upgrade to color-coded connectors like those appearing on newer computers.

  • REPLACE CABLES from time to time. Albeit sometimes expensive, replacing cables is cheaper than losing data. A bad cable can masquerade as a software or configuration problem that might not get recognized until after you've incurred extensive labor charges from a repair techie.

  • KEEP A COMPUTER LOG of computer crashes and problems. Do this and you may find that your computer problems tend to repeat themselves (some more then others). You may be able to fix common problems by going through your logbook rather than waiting for outside help. And if you do need outside help, the logbook will provide a valuable tool that can help someone understand how your computer performs and what led up to the problem you are experiencing.

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