The security and upkeep of your computers and network ultimately fall on you! Unfortunately, you might not have a geek of your own for full-time systems administrator. Many PC maintenance and upkeep tasks can be automated and performed regularly if you have the time. Here is a list of some recommended tasks to make sure your computers continue to run their best.

  • Install operating system updates. If you are running Microsoft Windows, this means installing the Windows updates from Microsoft. You should configure these to download automatically and notify you when they are ready for installation. You should also manually check (weekly or monthly) to make sure that the automatic updates are enabled AND that the latest updates are installed.
  • Run a disk check. This task can be automated. If you automate it, I recommend running the disk check weekly. In addition, I also recommend running a manual, in depth disk check to check for bad sectors at least once a month.
  • Defragment the hard disk. This task can also be automated. If you automate it, I recommend defragmenting the hard disk weekly. Manually check the fragmentation level monthly. Click the Start button and type “defrag” in the search to see how your computer is set up for defragging. I recommend Defraggler from Piriform for a nice upgrade to the regular Windows defrag utility.
  • Clean the hard disk of unneeded files. This task can be automated. Windows ships with a utility that will clean the hard disk of temporary files. You can use this to automate a weekly cleaning. I also recommend running a manual disk cleaning using Piriform’s CCleaner on a monthly basis.
  • Check your available disk space. If your disk space is running low, you may want to move some files around or uninstall some programs (if they are no longer needed) to free up disk space. If you are using the Offline Files function in Windows, it can also eat up a lot of disk space. If you can’t seem to track down what is eating up disk space, try running WinDirStat on your C: drive. Running your computer without enough available disk space can make it run slower and lead to other problems. Weekly or monthly is fine for this task depending on your business and your computer/network setup.
  • Check for program updates. Run Secunia’s inspector programs (PSI if it is a personal computer) or FileHippo’s updater program to make sure any programs you have installed are running the latest versions. Because out of date programs can contain security vulnerabilities, I recommend setting software to automatically check for software updates weekly (or automatically at startup). Manually check monthly.
  • Check your antivirus software. If you don’t have antivirus, there are several freely available ones. Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG are great examples.
    • Check to make sure your antivirus software is set to update virus signatures automatically.
    • Check to make sure your antivirus software is scheduled to perform an after-hours scan automatically at least weekly, preferably daily.
    • Run a manual virus signature update monthly.
    • Run a manual full scan monthly.
    • Run an update and full scan with one alternative “backup” malware scanner. I recommend Malwarebytes for this. It is the best I have found.
  • Check the programs list. Open up the control panel and go to the Add/Remove Programs and review it monthly. Specifically, you should be looking for programs you no longer need or use, programs that don’t belong or look suspicious, and programs that may need manual updating (perhaps Secunia or FileHippo missed them).
  • If you really want to get your geek on, use a spreadsheet to track your computers and which tasks have been completed.
If you see anything we missed, let me know! I will add it to the list.