Techie health checks

As with your car, your personal computer, tablet, laptop and smartphone all require regular checks and servicing to maintain ‘as new’ performance. Webmaster Drew shares his techie health checks to keep things running smoothly.

Cleaning up your computer

Over-cluttered desktop
We are all guilty of hoarding shortcuts and programs which we barely use on our desktops. Your desktop should be your central computer hub which contains your five most-used shortcuts, three most-used folders and three most used files. Figure out which icons fit these criteria and file the others away. Your Recycle Bin will remain a key area on your desktop and now is a great time to empty the trash. A full Recycle Bin can slow down your computer, so it is important to empty it every couple of weeks.

To dust is a must
Cleaning is a daily chore so why should your computer miss out on all the love? Dust gets everywhere, no matter how hard you try to keep it out. That is true for the inside of your computer case as well. You may never have opened your computer case before. Generally there are screws at the back and on the side which have to be removed with a screwdriver, or can be removed by hand. Dell computers are a little different and have a button you push.

Disconnect your computer for at least 10 minutes before starting this exercise. It is also recommended that you wear shoes which have rubber in them in the case of a discharge of electric residue. Do not remove any of the computer components. Use your vacuum’s attachments to remove the dust from inside the computer. You may need to use tissues to wipe out some of the more entrenched dust around the fans of your Computer Processing Unit (CPU). You can also use a soft tipped toothbrush to remove the dust, as this will not scratch any of the computer parts.

Monthly flu shot
Viruses, adware and even cookies slow down your computer when they creep in and increase the use of your computer’s RAM. It is recommended that you have an up-to-date anti-virus program, which includes a firewall, installed at all times. You should run a full-scan of your computer at least every month. It is also recommended that you use a secondary scanner such as Ad-Aware or Malwarebytes.

Throw out the junk
As time passes, you find you have installed programs onto your computer which you no longer use and just sit there taking up space. Some will even open automatically on start-up, using up RAM without your knowledge. The remove programs function can be found in your Control Panel. This allows you to see a full list of programs installed on your computer. Scroll through the list and remove any programs which you no longer want.

Prevent programs from opening on Windows start-up
There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait minutes for your computer to warm up, log in and then finally wait for all of the programs to load. Not only will your computer load faster when you remove unused programs from the start-up list, but it will run consistently faster as these programs do not remain open while the computer is in use.

Click on the Start menu, then, depending on your version of Windows, either click on ‘Run’ or type ‘Run’ into your search bar at the bottom. Click on the program which appears in your search. Type “msconfig” into the textbox and click ‘OK’. Click the Startup tab. Uncheck the box next to the program name you do not want to start with Windows. You can go back at any time to switch on programs you would like to start up when booting up your computer. Close this program and restart your computer.

Optimising your smart phone or tablet

Clean up your app library
Over-installation of apps is the single biggest reason why smart devices run slowly, so take a minute to browse through and delete any apps which you no longer use.

To perform this clean up on an iPhone or iPad:
Navigate from the home screen navigate to Settings -> General -> Usage. A list of your apps will load (this can take a minute or two). Press ‘Show All Apps’. Tap on any apps you no longer use and press ‘Delete App’.

Store your photos
Have you gone through your smart device’s photos recently? Depending on your photo settings, one photo usually takes up around 8MB of space. This means when you reach the 200-photo mark, depending on your phone’s capacity, photos can be taking up 10 per cent of your phone’s storage. Storing your photos on a computer is an easy solution to this problem.

Clean your browser history
Your Safari browser stores information on your device about your browsing habits, including storing tracking cookies. Purging this data not only stops websites gathering information on your browsing habits, it also deletes all traces of which websites you have visited and any saved passwords. This can be a handy safety feature in the unfortunate case of your phone being stolen.

To clear your browser history, navigate from the home screen to Settings ->Safari. Press the ‘Clear History’ and ‘Clear Cookies and Data’ buttons. While you’re in the Safari settings area, you can switch on private browsing by switching ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ under ‘Private Browsing’. Once you have completed the steps above, turn your phone off and let it rest for a minute. Now turn it back on and it should be working as new again.

Read more of Drew’s great techie tips here:
How to clean your computer
Five free ways to speed up your computer
Computer infection quick fix

Written by Drew

Starting out as a week of work experience in 2005 while studying his Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University, Drew has never left his post and has been with the company ever since, working on the websites digital needs. Drew has a passion for all things technology which is only rivalled for his love of all things sport (watching, not playing).