Running some simple tasks regularly will improve the performance and extend the life of your computer while reducing popup reminders and likely, your stress.
I've developed my clean and maintenance routines over the last 30 years.
You can look through the archives of this site and find several posts on how to update and maintain your computer. Like everything in life, things change. Here are my latest step-by-step recommendations on how to keep your computer up-to-date and as safe and fast as possible.
If I set up or serviced your computer, I installed all the tools you need. Don't be fooled by ads for programs that claim to speed up or clean your computer, or install up-to-date drivers. In fact, think about and research any additional programs before installing. If you find something missing I'd love to know and to add it to my routine installation.
I use free applications that I've tried and tested for years. While some have a pay and free version, I've found we only need the free version. I avoid the pay versions not because I don't think they're worth the money or the developers shouldn't be compensated for their work, but because the "Pro" or pay versions install themselves to run all the time in the background, using memory, processor cycles, Internet bandwidth and collecting tracking data without providing enough additional benefit to warrant the negatives. Donate to their development fund if you like, but don't allow the programs to run all the time.
Also see my post on third-party security software here. WHY YOU DON'T NEED FOR-PAY SECURITY SOFTWARE
Microsoft and other developers and manufacturers constantly release updates to the software and hardware that make your computer work. Generally, Microsoft starts pushing out monthly updates on the second Tuesday of each month (aka "Patch Tuesday"). Not all computers will receive the updates on that day; they are spread out over several or even many days. You can check for Windows Updates anytime - see below. First, you should know we're now encountering some issues with Windows Updates, particularly on Windows 10 with huge changes like the Creators Updates.
The industry has done a great job convincing us to turn off or allow our computers to go into sleep or hibernation, and the default times are set quite short. While this may save some energy, it also prevents the computer from downloading and installing big updates. The next time you turn on your computer it starts again with the automatic updating process - which slows down the computer and confuses and annoys you with sluggish performance.
To avoid this problem, leave your computer on and connected to the Internet for at least an hour on a regular basis. Restart it when prompted to allow the updates to finish installing themselves. And manually check for and install updates so they're not hijacking your computer when you want to use it.
ADJUST POWER SETTINGS
Windows 10 - type power into the "Type here to search" box (aka Cortana). Click on Power and sleep settings and adjust the sleep time. The screen can turn off whenever you like, but don't let it go to sleep in less than an hour or so.
Windows 8.1 - click the magnifying glass to search, type power, then click on Power settings. Adjust as needed.
Windows 7 - click the Start button (lower left corner, usually), then type power in the "Search programs and files" box right above the Start button. Choose Power Options under Control Panel. Click Change plan settings next to your power plan and adjust as needed.
CCLEANER - open CCleaner, click the Run Cleaner button in the lower right corner. When finished, close. Don't worry about installing every update. CCleaner doesn't have an internal updater and must be downloaded and installed new with every update released. It's very easy to click the wrong link and find yourself with a trial of the for-pay version. I'll update it anytime I work on your computer.
NINITE UPDATER - If I've worked on your computer you'll find the Ninite Updater shortcut on your Desktop or in the Service folder. Open it, give it permission to run, and let it update a whole list of common, basic applications installed on your computer. It won't install any third-party software, won't ask you to make any decisions and works beautifully. If you see a popup to update Java, close that message and run Ninite instead. The Java popup updater might trick you into installing a toolbar, security scan or other software you don't want nor need.
MALWAREBYTES (MBAM) - open Malwarebytes, click Scan on the left, then click Start Scan. If it finds anything allow the program to quarantine and then run SuperAntiSpyware.
SUPERANTISPYWARE (SASW) - open SuperAntiSpyware (I know, dumb name - but good product). Click the link that says "Click here to check for updates" and allow the updates to download and install. Then click Scan this computer and choose either Quick Scan or Complete Scan. If it finds any Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs), click the boxes to delete them. If it finds only cookies, that's good - delete them.
If MBAM and SASW find and quarantine anything other than cookies we should talk - and possibly run more tools to further clean your computer.
MANUFACTURER UPDATES - Most manufacturers have recently been releasing more hardware (driver) updates and BIOS updates. Conventional wisdom in the past told us to leave everything alone unless there was a problem. That's no longer the case. Processors have been compromised and these updates help close the security holes.
DELL: If you have a Dell computer you should find SupportAssist in your Programs. There is a recent update to SupportAssist itself, and if yours is unresponsive it needs to be removed and the new version installed. If SupportAssist is running properly you'll see a notice offering to run a system checkup where drivers are checked for newer versions and other optimization tasks are run. Do allow this to run and install the new drivers if found.
HP: HP's support helper is called SupporAssistant, and runs pretty much as Dell's version. Run it, allow any new software to install, and read the messages.
Other manufacturers may provide an automated update assistant; check your programs for a folder with the brand of your computer and run it if found.
CHECK FOR WINDOWS UPDATES
Check for and install Windows updates at least monthly. If you see a shield on the power button, allow the updates to install and shut down the computer. Don't wait - things tend not to work right while the system is waiting to install updates and restart.
Windows 10 - type updates into the search box, then click Search for updates. Click the check for updates button and allow anything found to install. Restart if prompted.
Windows 8.1 - click the magnifying glass, type updates and choose Windows Updates. Install all.
Windows 7 - click the Start button, scroll to Windows Updates and follow the prompts.
DATA BACKUP - Only you know how important the data you've saved to your computer is to you. Or, how far back you'd have to go to recreate your Quicken file or family history records. You may think your photos are all on your phone so you don't need to back them up on your computer, and maybe that works for you. Data backup is a big, important subject that deserves its own post, and
here it is: WHY AND HOW YOU NEED TO BACK UP YOUR DATA
The short version is, if you'd miss it after a computer crash, it needs to be backed up somwhere. Use Carbonite or another online backup service, an external drive, Dropbox/OneDrive/iCloud/Google Drive or best, a combination of all three.
TUNE UP - Have your computer serviced at least twice yearly. I can connect to your computer via remote a lot easier than you can drag it back and forth to my office and a lot less costly than having me sit in your living room for a few hours. If you do drop it off I can run more thorough tests and cleaning overnight - but for a periodic checkup, remote works for most of us.
That's it - a few things you can do to help your computer run better. if you have questions about any of these items please contact me and we'll discuss. I don't charge to talk with you; I'd rather prevent a problem than fix it.
If you know someone who's struggling with their computer or could use this information I'd be glad to have you pass it along or have them contact me.
Text, email or call anytime. I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Thanks to all for your continued patronage!