Some computer maintenance for the upcoming family get-togethers

If you’re like me and do some computer maintenance for families during holiday weekends, the time to plan Easter computer maintenance is now.

Here’s some stuff I recommend doing to keep your non-computer-enthusiast relatives’ systems running smoothly. Be sure to bring your own laptop along, just in case. If a computer is too broken to get online or to get online safely, nothing beats a working system for downloading the stuff you need to fix it.

Defragment if they don’t have an SSD. Defragging 1-2 times per year with MyDefrag is sufficient to keep a hard drive humming along. Don’t bother with any other defragmenting tool; they’re not worth the money or the hassle.

Run Windows Update. This probably goes without saying. And turn on automatic updates if they’ve been turned off.

Look for security alerts and fix them. If Windows Firewall is off, it’ll be in the security alerts in the system tray, and there’ll be an option to re-enable it right there next to the notification. That’s the most important item. Remember, defense in depth.

Make sure the primary antivirus is working. If it’s lapsed, install Microsoft Security Essentials since it doesn’t nag, has a good track record about not bringing up false positives, and doesn’t expire. If you find anything suspicious, scanning with an antivirus live CD–I still like Bit Defender–would be a good idea. Burn a live CD in advance and pack it in your bag.

Set up Vacuum Places. This keeps Firefox from getting sluggish. Slowness is always caused by viruses, right? Keep Firefox humming and then you’ll get fewer I-must-have-a-virus statements.

I would say these seven things are likely to be sufficient to keep the computer running nicely and securely until next winter.

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