Let’s talk about your vehicle first. Most of us stick to some sort of planned routine maintenance for our cars don’t we? We change the oil; rotate and balance the tires; have our tires checked for safety. We do that because most of us know if we don’t, bad things can happen. Try going without your automobile for a week after it stops running because it ran out of oil. Perhaps the oil was so old that its protective value was compromised and caused your engine to seize up. Neglecting a vehicles basic needs results in a big bill that could have been avoided. The law requires that we have a vehicle inspection done once a year. That’s actually not a bad idea.
Computers and cars have a few things in common. Computers are used almost daily by people who have them. They have moving internal parts and like automobiles, they develop problems along the way. Sometimes these are serious problems. Unlike automobiles however, we don’t generally set up some sort of routine maintenance plan and there is no law that requires an annual computer inspection.
$Cost of ownership$
I can guarantee that if you don’t take care of your vehicle, sooner or later that practice will come back to bite you. I can also guarantee the same thing will happen if you don’t take care of your computer. There is a cost of ownership when you purchase a car. There is also a cost of ownership that goes with owning a computer. Most people don’t think about that. Over time and with normal use, a computer’s hard drive gets “junked up”. I know those two words don’t have a clear meaning to you just yet, but I will explain. Every time you go to a web site, that site sends back little files called “cookies”. Cookies keep track of what sites you visit; what you look at and sometimes what you purchase. Your computer also saves snapshots of the web page you visited. Why? Because rather than the computer having to wait until the page loads into your computer again, it can look on the hard drive, find the images it saved and load the page from there. When you install or delete a program guess what. More junk files that will slow your PC down to a crawl over time. Are you beginning to get the picture now?
The case for routine PC Maintenance
You take your vehicle to a qualified and experienced mechanic for routine maintenance (if you don’t, you should). A computer needs the same treatment. Have your PC looked at by a qualified and experienced PC technician. Do both (car and PC) on some sort of schedule BEFORE something goes wrong. A good computer technician will check your PC, find and fix things before they become bigger problems. Is your anti-virus and anti maleware current? Are they doing their scans properly? Is your registry (a deep topic but for now just know it’s VERY important) full of bad links, dead ends and corrupted code? Has a hacker installed a key logger on your computer? Is your hard drive fragmented and full of temporary files which slow it down?
So how often should I do this?
Heavy users in terms of hours a day and of the Internet, especially multiple sites, should consider a checkup once a month to assure maximum performance. Moderate to limited users and those infrequently using the Internet ought to consider checkups three or four times a year on a regular schedule. Of course, if your computer starts acting up, contact a technician immediately.
How much does it cost?
You most likely would get an estimate before a mechanic works on your car right? Do the same with a computer technician. In fact get several quotes. Big Box sores charge BIG prices to cover their overhead. A small home based PC technician will not. Get references; ask around, just as you would when you need car repair or routine maintenance. Don’t get taken to the cleaners.