Tabard IT can help when it comes to computer maintenance support.
Computers, like cars and other working machines, require regular service and support to keep them in good condition.
Here, we highlight the importance of maintaining your computer through the use of backups and health checks i.e. keeping antivirus definitions up to date and running Microsoft Windows update to keep the OS up to date, running scheduled malware checks; and general day to day routines for your computer.
All of this can be done by the user or by Tabard IT if you take out a computer maintenance agreement plan with us.
Find further information below on related computer maintenance support topics. Click the links to jump straight to each section for quick access:
If your computer or server crashes, and you don’t have adequate backups of your files, you might lose important documents and end up spending a lot of time trying to rebuild your system. This can be very expensive! Even with backups of all your data, it can take some time to rebuild a system back to its original state. Proper preparation is important.
If you have a server, your backup choices are more flexible, as your files will be stored in one location, making them easier to backup. If you don’t, you may have to back up each computer separately.
Backups can be as simple as occasional copies of your system and/or data to a CD or DVD, or automated backups to external hard discs or tape drive. Remote or online backup copies your data via the internet to a server located elsewhere (potentially anywhere in the world).
If you have no server but do have Windows 7 or Vista, you can use Backup and Restore (look for it in Control Panel). This can be set to back up automatically to an external drive; use two to keep two separate backups, and store the one you’re not using away from the PC.
If you have Windows 2000 or XP Professional, you can use the built-in NT Backup utility (NTBACKUP.EXE) to back up to disc or tape. There are also many commercial backup packages available, from cheap and cheerful to seriously expensive, depending on your requirements and the importance of your data.
If you have Small Business Server 2003 or above, there are built-in backup wizards available which can fairly easily be set up to do automated backups to tape (2003 only) or disc (or both). Note that as from Windows Server 2008, tape drive backups are not supported by Microsoft – you will need a third party tool to continue using tapes, such as BackupAssist.
For small businesses with a server, we recommend using external hard discs to backup. For archiving, tapes can also be used.
For homes or home businesses, we recommend an external hard disc (or two if the budget allows) which can be set up for automatic backing up.
One big advantage of tapes over external hard drives is their archiving abilities, but they can be slow, and tape drives are expensive. They are also not supported by Microsoft’s built-in backup program for Server 2008 onwards. External discs are fast and relatively cheap, but can run out of memory space, and they cannot be easily transported offsite.
Online/remote backups are by their nature offsite, and therefore, safe from local disasters; but they can work to be out expensive in the long run, where security and ownership of data might be a problem, meaning if you don’t have a fast upstream internet connection and have lots of data, timing can be a problem.
Safe Mode Guide
Sometimes it’s a good idea to run things like virus and spyware scans in safe mode.
To boot your machine into safe mode, see Microsoft’s articles depending on your Windows version:
The following link should provide you with further support from Microsoft:
Once you’re in safe mode, the screen may look odd (very low resolution, colours not showing properly etc.), but you should be able to run a virus or spyware scan. With Windows 2000 and XP, you can run in “safe mode with networking” which will allow you to update virus definitions, but with 95/98/Me, you will need to update these before booting in safe mode if possible.
To exit safe mode, just reboot the machine normally.
To Do List
Ensure Windows Updates are set to update automatically. If you’re not sure, visit http://update.microsoft.com for more details. Microsoft generally roll out new updates for Windows once a week. Also, you should ensure that you have a firewall in place before connecting to the internet – see our firewalls section for more information.
Anti virus software often run automatic updates and apply them as soon as they come available. If the virus definitions do become more than a week old, the software will usually prompt you to update. You can configure your antivirus software to automatically run a full scan at a convenient time.
You can also run Windows Disk Cleanup Manager – select Start / Run… and type CLEANMGR, then press Enter. Follow the prompts to remove any temporary files. If you don’t see the Run… menu, you can simply press the Windows key & the R key simultaneously. This should be done once a month, or if your machine seems to be running slowly. If the problem persists, please call Tabard IT for a quote on a general cleanup, more RAM memory or a larger hard drive.
To improve overall performance and startup times, you should avoid placing large files on the desktop, or setting high resolution pictures for your wallpaper.
Email archiving can improve the performance of Outlook, and should be automatically prompted every once in a while. If you would like to perform this more frequently, then go into Outlook and select Tools / Options / Other / Auto Archive. From here you can change the frequency and location of the archive.
Finally, you should run some sort of adware/malware detection program about once a week. There are several available, often free for personal use. Ad-Aware, Spybot and Microsoft Anti Spyware aka Windows Defender are three – see our malware section for more information.
If updates go wrong, or after installing a new application/software package, Windows stops working. System Restore can sometimes fix this type of problem very easily!
General System Restore
Most machines should have system restore functionality already as a default, however, most don’t. Those that have a key built in by default have been listed below by manufacturer.
Acer – Alt + F10
Asus – F9
Dell/Alienware – F8
HP – F11
Lenovo – F11
MSI – F3
Samsung – F4
Sony – F10
Toshiba – 0 (not numpad) while turning on, release key when Toshiba logo appears
You may have to press the appropriate key a few times to bring up system restore options, those that have Windows 10 installed will automatically have recovery options. If you can access the desktop then simply hold the shift key whilst you press restart and Windows 10 will figure out that you want to access the recovery options.
Otherwise follow the keys for specific manufacturers.