Computer step by step
 Make your Pc better
Computer maintenance
   Computer maintenance describes various steps to keep your computer functioning at an optimal
performance level from a software and hardware point of view.
  Hardware maintenance
   A must know  factor is that your system, desktop or laptop, was designed to function at room's
temperature. High temperatures can make your computer run slower and sluggish and sometimes even turn
off without any warning. Today's computers are designed to turn off when their components are getting to
hot, like a safety measure. Low temperatures can also damage your computer, because your hardware
components produce heat and in combination with low temperature the condensation effect appears.
Condensation will build on computer's components and cause them to degrade or even short out.
   Desktops are designed usually with cooling systems (cooling fans) for power supply and cpu (we are
speaking here about cooling through ventilation).
   It's recommended for your desktop to have a big case(tower) in order for the components to have as much
space as possible for a proper cooling. Additionally you can look to change your standard CPU fan with a
more advanced one. This will create a better airflow and it will efficiently cool the CPU heat.
   Another key component of your computer is your ram memory, which also needs to be cooled. This can be
done using  heat spreaders (from aluminum or copper) or ram fans. This way the heat  is dissipated and
allows the memory to function efficiently.
   The hard drive can be cooled also using hard drive fans. Depending on the fans type they can be mounted
next or on the hard drive.
   You should verify what kind of system is used to cool your video card. Often it's used  a heat conductive
metal and above it a fan which helps increase cooling. Even if your card has a silent fan you should change
the fan with a better one to assure a proper cooling .
   All this cooling gathers air in the case but who is taking care to take it out . Usually the power supply fan
will accomplish this job. We recommend to add an additional fan on the case to bring cool air inside the case,
to assure a proper air flow .
   Before adding all these cooling devices to your system, please verify if your power supply can sustain the
needed power. If the power supply can't provide enough energy to all components it might shut down like a
safety measure.
   An enemy of your cooling system is dust. In time dust will accumulate in your computer's case, sometimes
like a thin blanket over fans, grills, heat sinks and on your system components. This can cause the cooling air
flow to be disrupted and components to overheat. You need to verify your system for dust and if you can, use
a portable vacuum designed specially do this job or a spray with compressed air to clean it out. Regular
vacuums can generate static electricity which can damage your internal computer's components. The
vacuum will sucks the dust out of your computer. Please pay special attention when cleaning the small fans,
they need to be prevented to spin while you are cleaning them. You can accomplish this by holding them or
by inserting something between the fan's blades. The spin might generate back voltage and damage them.
   Laptops through their design have a pretty good cooling system which was tested by their manufacturer.
But even so, you can improve it by purchasing a cooling pad. Usually for most laptops the cooling vents are
situated at the bottom of the laptop. Bottom vents will draw cool air into the system and side or rear vents
will blow the air out . Adding the pad, which has one or more fans incorporated, increases air flow and helps
it to cool faster and better. If you use a Macbook you don't need a pad because his vents are situated
behind the keyboard.
   Consider to take out your battery when your laptop is plugged into AC power. The reason why we
recommend this procedure is because batteries are designed with a defined number of charges-discharges
cycles and by using less cycles possible you prolong your battery’s life . Also during the charging -discharging
cycles the battery dissipates heat . By removing the battery you remove another heat source of your laptop.
   When using your battery keep in mind to use a pad to cool your battery and to maintain it at  standard
   Your computer's position in room is also important. Avoid  positioning your computer to direct sunlight. The
heat generated by the sun will heat the computer's case or lcd screen .It's a known fact that  prolonged sun
exposure will cause degradation to your plastic components. Avoid also to position it in dusty and high
transit areas. If they are placed in these areas, verify frequently your computer for dust.
   Avoid to keep your computer in unused rooms with low temperatures. This environment facilitates the
condensation effect.
   Computer transportation
   There are some easy steps to follow if you are thinking to move your computer from one location to

- pack your computer using the original packing kit.

- secure the box with padding and fill in any empty spaces with bubble wrap.

- if you own a laptop just put in in your laptop case. Nowadays laptop cases/bags have a good cushioning
  which protects laptop against all sort of harmful interventions or accidents.

- if you feel that your computer wasn't transported properly and water or snow got into the case or laptop
 (for laptops  take out the battery; for computer's open the case)  and position the case or laptop in a
  position to evacuate water and keep it at rooms temperature at least for 12 hours to dry out .
  Don't turn on the computer during this time. Avoid to speed the dry out process by  using your hairdryer as
  this will cause static problems.

- even if the computer was transported correctly, we recommend to leave at least 30 minutes at room's
  temperature before you turn it on in the new location.
   Prevention and maintaining methods
   We recommend to use  lightning protective electrical outlet in combination with a UPS .The UPS will assure
quality electrical power and will prevent loss of data during a power outage. It will also provide you enough
time to save any files you were working on. Another advantage of the UPS is that it protects your computer
from shutting down improperly and it will take in any electrical socks. Electrical socks usually damage your
system components, mainly the ones who function with electrical motors like hard drive, cd-rom, floppy disk.
   For laptops, data lost can be avoided during a blackout  if the battery is in.
   To keep your monitor clean use special cleaning solution.
   We can categorize computers in terms of use in two types: work computer and personal computer. Being a
work computer important software, critical data and sensitive information are stored. We suggest not
installing any beta software versions in your workspace environment because unpredicted issues may
appear which can make your computer unstable or even crash. To keep your data safe be aware of beta
software consequences.
   What's a beta software and how will I know if it's a beta version?
   Software publishers often release new programs which were tested previously but need more testing.
This pre-release is called beta software. Even if the software was tested in a lab type environment, the
publisher couldn't test it under all possible conditions. By releasing a beta software to the public, publisher
covers a wider area of testing. Users may uncover bugs that weren't detected during alpha  testing. These
bugs  are brought to publishers attention and fixed in the final release. Bugs might be minor or severe.
Depending on bug's severity your computer might crash or become unstable and you may find your self losing
valuable data.
   Usually when installing a beta software version, you will see letter b in software's name like Firefox 3.1b2
and during  installation wizard you will have a warning that  publisher is not responsible for any damages to
your system. Example: “Do it at your own risk, we will not be responsible for any damage that may arise“
   Before starting to provide a few software maintenance tips, we need a better understanding of an
operating system and his functionality.

    The operating system is a intermediary between hardware components and software applications. It also
has the job to manage computer hardware resources and to assure an efficient execution of  your programs.

   A frequent issue is that many laptop's manufacturers equip laptops with powerful operating systems, like
Windows Vista or Window 7,but only with with minimal hardware requirements. Besides the operating
system, manufacturers preinstall various software applications.
   Lets take Windows Vista Home Basic version system requirement for RAM, which  is only 512 MB . This
amount of RAM assures only a good functionality of your operating system and not of additional installed
software. Any other running application needs additional RAM to function properly. If the system doesn't have
enough memory to sustain all running applications, it converts your hard drive free space in RAM. The process
of covering missing amounts of  RAM is called virtual memory and it's a feature of your operating system. The
down side of this process is that your hard drive is slower then your RAM. Data that was stored in virtual
memory must be mapped back to real memory in order to be used. Mapping data between hard drive and
RAM, back and forth, takes longer then accessing it directly from the RAM. The hard drive wasn't designed to
sustain some much repeated writing in one sector, causing the hard drive to overheat and even break down.
In order for your computer to run more applications it's best to have as much RAM as possible. This way your
applications will be running directly from RAM, avoiding the need of virtual memory.

   Virtual memory should only be used as an emergency substitute for RAM.
   Software frequent problem
   Managing your hard drive space
   Hard disks, new or old, can be divided in multiple storage units also called partitions. This process is
required to separate operating system and programs files from work files.
    During windows installation you will need to determine the size of the hard disk partition on which the
operating system will be installed. The amount dedicated to the system drive should be at least the doubled
amount of your operating system space requirements. If you plan to add more applications and features,
estimate an average of needed space and added it to the above amount. We  aren't finished yet, we need  
also to add a  few more GB as a precaution for  additional components, future service packs and  virtual
memory. The basic principle is to allow considerably more disk space then the minimum.
   Hard disk requirements for several operating system types:

   Windows Xp - 1.5 GB
   Windows Vista  - 20 GB
    Windows 7  - 10 GB
   Now that we have the hard disk space requirement we can go ahead and calculate the amount dedicated
to your system drive.

   Lets take Windows Xp first, we double the amount and we have 3 GB and we add 10 GB for programs.
At this moment we have created our C partition with the amount of 13 GB. After the operating system
installation, 1.5 GB from this amount is already occupied by the system. 1.5 times of the  RAM amount that is
in the computer is dedicated to virtual memory. Lets say we have 2 GB RAM, then 2 GB*1.5= 3 GB is for
virtual memory. In the end we remain with 8.5 Gb free space. Only this space will be used for programs,  
additional components and future service packs installs.

   Now we take Windows Vista, we double the amount and we have 40 GB and we add 10 GB for programs.
At this moment we have created our C partition with the amount of 50 GB. After the operating system
installation, 20 GB from this amount is already occupied by the system. Between 1.5-2.0 times of the physical
memory (RAM) on the PC is dedicated to virtual memory. Lets say we have 2 GB, then 2 Gb*2= 4 GB is for
virtual memory. In the end we remain with 26 Gb free space. Only this space will be used for programs,  
additional components and future service packs installs.

   Lets take also Windows 7, we double the amount and we have  20 GB and we add 10 GB for programs.
At this moment we have created our C partition with the amount of 30 GB. After the operating system
installation, 10 GB from this amount is already occupied by the system. 1 time of the RAM amount that is in
the computer +300 MB is dedicated to virtual memory. Lets say we have 2 GB,  2GB*1+300 MB =2.3 GB is
for virtual memory. In the end we remain with 17.7 Gb free space. Only this space will be used for programs,  
additional components and future service packs installs.

   We recommend an amount of 50 GB for your system partition to have the resources to upgrade and
downgrade anytime without worrying about required free space.

   Like you can see, there is no set formula to determine the system partition size but, we can estimate an
amount by knowing our needs.

   Being the first created partition  it will have letter C assigned and we will address it as C drive, C partition.

   The second partition should be dedicated to your future installed programs. Appreciate the needed amount
and be aware that today's programs require more and more hard disk space . The new created partition will
have  usually assigned letter D ( D drive)  and will be dedicated only for your programs..

   All remaining space can be partitioned in one partition or several partitions, depending on remaining space.
On this or these partitions you can organize your work, games, music and documents files.
   I will highlight several benefits of this method:

- data safety - by saving your work files or other important files to other partitions then the system's drive,
makes the recovery from a system crash( required a reinstall) much easier.
- best system performance - by saving your files to other partitions the system has a constant free space
amount at his disposal.
- increased speed accessing files -  by creating multiple partitions the speed of accessing files is considerably  
increased (it takes longer to read from 1 MFT (master file table) of one hard disk partition then from smaller
MFTs  of smaller partitions)
- recoverable data – if one drive gets corrupted the other drives remain intact.
   Also related to disk space is the maintenance of your desktop files
   First thing you will see when you log into your system is your desktop. A very good question is:
   What's the purpose of your desktop?
   The desktop area should contain shortcuts to frequently accessed programs, directories and files. Other
users choose to use it like a temporary storage area, for example to save various installation  packages and
delete them once the programs  are installed.

    We will try to explain better what happens when files are saved on desktop.

   All files that are stored on desktop are really saved in your account profile which is located on your system
drive. Most people save their data on desktop from convenience reasons. However, this causes your system
partition to fill up and eventually to slow down your computer. Lack of free space affects your virtual memory
and your data safety. When the system is running out of free space it will show a balloon message with
“Low disk space” with the possibility to start a disk cleanup and by mistake you may delete valuable data.
In some cases your account profile might become corrupt and you might lose all your desktop files.

    A messy and crowded desktop causes your profile to take longer and longer to load, increasing your
computer's startup time.  

   We can conclude that:

- your desktop was designed only to provide an easier and quicker way to access your programs and files.
- your system drive partition should have as much free space as possible.
- your work data should be saved on secondary partitions to avoid data loss and system performance issues.

   This thinking method provides also benefits when you will be facing to reinstall your operating system
(formatting the system drive during the reinstall):

- less data to backup.
- avoid losing any valuable data.
- all programs that were previous installed, will remain there needing only a repair installation. ( This, only if
  the programs were installed on another partition and not on system's partition)
   Keep your computer protected and up to date
   Your computer's health is very important from first day of use,either if you just purchased a brand new  
computer or just have finished to reinstall your operating system. Various steps must be taken prior to use
your computer to assure best protection and functionality. To prevent malicious software to put it at risk, try
to avoid browsing any web pages before following these steps:
   a. Start installing all offered Windows updates

   Windows update is a service provided by Microsoft which facilitates patching your system with latest
security and error fixes. Security updates or critical updates keep your computer safe by eliminating any
known system vulnerabilities. Through the same process are also provided service packs. A windows service
pack incorporates a collection of updates, fixes and enhancements in one single package. Windows  update
scans you system, hardware and software, it compares it against a database and offers all necessary
updates for your system.
   Security updates, system updates and service packs are being issued constantly  and you'll be alerted
when they are ready for your system. Windows update is a great and easy tool to update your system
against any security threats.
   During windows update installation ,important  files are modified and added to the system. If the process
is stopped by various reasons it can damage system files or prevent them to install , making your system
unstable or unresponsive. We recommend to avoid performing any tasks during windows update process,
especially during service pack installation.
   c. Check  if all installed drivers are functioning properly.

   Usually when you buy a computer , desktop or laptop, you receive also a couple of Cds containing your
system's drivers and your windows installation disk. Some laptops come with recovery cds which already
have the drivers incorporated and you don't have to install them one by one, the setup is doing that for you.
In case you lose these cds or you want to install a different operating system then the one preinstalled, each
manufacturer has his own website from where drivers can be downloaded. The general steps will be
accessing manufacturer's site, look for the support/drivers area, type your hardware name or laptop type,
choose your operating system edition and you'll be provided with the  proper download link.

   Why do we need to go through these steps?

   A driver is a software that controls how your hardware functions. The driver is like a translator between
your hardware device and your system software . The operating system has included a tool which shows all
hardware components. This tool is called Device Manager. It can be accessed by right clicking on My Computer
and choosing Manage, then Device Manager. You can view here all your  hardware devices by clicking on the
+ sign. A clean look of device manager it's shown in the following picture (in this case windows xp):
   The good thing is that device manager alerts you about any device or driver issues, by displaying a black  
exclamation mark '!' on a yellow field, a red 'x' or a blue 'I' on a white field.
   Periodical computer maintenance
   The operating system's purpose is to interact with the user. One of his functionality is to anticipate user's
needs and use various methods to recover in case of  system failure. To achieve this, the operating system
during his daily functioning, collects and stores important data. He uses different methods for different
actions. For Browsing it saves all visited web pages. The purpose is, if you want to access them again, they
will load faster. If major changes take place, like a driver installation, the system creates a system restore
point. In case you experience issues after this action, you have the option to restore to a previous time. The
variety of today's programs can create various problems and lets not forget about malicious software which
were specially created to destabilize your operating system. All these factors put together affect your overall
computer performance.
   To gain back your system performance we recommend erasing certain files to free disk space, checking
system's files and partition to improve system's reliability, analyzing and reducing disk fragmentation to
optimize disk space.
   If you want to make a Periodical Computer Maintenance please choose you operating system:
   Increase your system's performance
   The pc tune-up procedure is intended to increase your system's performance. All presented methods are
easy to follow and prevent your system to run slow, freeze or crash. You will use your default windows
features without needing any third party applications. We will not include steps that can drastically modify
your system's functionality. A good example to explain better what we mean by drastic modifications is the
following. For example to improve your system performance you can stop services you usually don't use.
One service that can be stopped is the one controlling your printer. This action might be good for a computer
user which doesn't use a printer, but it generates errors for another which uses one.
   If you want to Increase your system's performance please choose you operating system:
Hardware Software Maintenance Pc Tune-Up Up
Hardware Software Maintenance Pc Tune-Up Up Windows Xp Service Pack 3 Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Windows 7 Service Pack 1
   b. Protect your computer against malicious software by installing a security software

   Before going online protect your computer with a security software ( firewall and antivirus ).You can
choose a free software or a 30 day free trial version. After various tests you can decide which software you
would like to keep to protect your system. Don't make the mistake to install more then one security software.
It will only slow down your computer and internet browsing as your traffic will pass through more then one
filter. Also if one security software tries to block a malicious file the secondary software can detect it also ,
ending up conflicting one with each other.
   You can use Microsoft list in order to choose a security software.
   If you wish to install the latest service pack either through windows update or using  standalone package,
and you are using a security software , first disable it or best uninstall it and then proceed with service pack
installation. We will try to explain why this is necessary. Before installation starts, the service pack files are
unpacked, some of them can be detected by your security software like malicious ( also called false positive )
and blocked automatically causing service pack installation to fail, your system to freeze or even not be able
to boot at all.
    Some security software even if they are disabled using the user guide interface or from startup list (using
msconfig) they will start automatically. This feature is implemented like a prevention method against malicious
files. Even if there are risks involved by uninstalling your security software during service pack install, it's
recommended in order to avoid system crashes..

   This is also Microsoft's recommendation.

   “Some antivirus software might prevent SP3/SP2/SP1 from installing, or might slow down the
installation.You can try temporarily disabling your antivirus software. If you do so, be sure that you're
aware of the risks involved, and be sure to enable it after the service pack is installed.”
Windows Xp     Service Pack 3
Windows Vista Service Pack 2
Windows 7       Service Pack 1
Once the service service pack is deployed , enable your security software or reinstall it.
Hardware Software Maintenance Pc Tune-Up Up Hardware Software Maintenance Pc Tune-Up