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Simple Ways to Maintain Your Computer

Simple Ways to Maintain Your Computer 

If you've ever fried a CPU because you didn't clean your fan, lost a decade of your digital life to a hard drive crash, or spent four hours trying to remove a nasty virus, you've probably already learned a valuable lesson about the need to maintain your computer.
Medical experts remind us that "prevention is the best medicine" so as your personal computer support experts, we're going to strongly advise that you apply the same logic to your computer!
While the three areas we talk about below are anything but exhaustive, they're the most important things to consider and, if you act on them, should keep you from suffering from some of the more serious, and expensive, issues you might otherwise run in to.

Keep Important Files Backed Up  

The most important thing you can do as a computer owner is to consistently and reliably back up the data stored on your hard drive. Hardware used to be the most valuable part of a computer, but those bits and bytes are now the real investment.
You've spent huge amounts of money on software and digital music and video, and countless hours authoring documents and organizing your digital files. If you don't regularly back up this information, a serious computer problem could leave you with nothing but a huge feeling of regret.
The best solution is a cloud based backup service. Yes, if you don't use a free backup service, it'll cost you several dollars a month, but considering what you get, it's the cheapest insurance policy on your important stuff that you'll find.
Traditional backup software is an option as well, but all in all, it's less safe than backing up to the internet since local backups are stored locally, right there in your house. This makes them much more susceptible to things like disastrous weather, fire, theft, etc.

Regularly Update Your Critical Software

Keeping the software on your computer updated is no longer an optional part of computer ownership. Viruses, worms, and other malware, in addition to junk mail, security breaches, hardware incompatibilities, and software conflicts, are all now part of your daily digital life.
Updating your computer with the latest patches, fixes, and device drivers really can keep these annoyances at bay. Updates are freely available on the internet for just about every antivirus program, email client, operating system, and piece of hardware you could possibly own.
So, don't skip those Patch Tuesday releases, don't be scared to update your hardware's drivers, and please make sure that you regularly scan for viruses or make sure the "always on" protection is enabled in your antivirus program so that threats can be caught before they do any damage.
Updating is so vital that there are even entire companies and programs built around providing an easy way to update your computer software, so don't miss out on getting one of those software updater programs that can do just that. Some of those free updater are even completely hands-off and will do all the updating for you, automatically, so that you don't have to worry much about it at all once you get it installed. 

Make Sure Things Are Clean

We all know that most things run a little better when they're clean. Water flows easier when your plumbing is clean, your car's engine runs better if you've been taking care of it, and your dryer does more in less time when you clean out the lint.
The fans in your computer, assuming yours has any, need similar care so they can continue to keep the important components that are part of your computer nice and cool. If things get too hot, they stop working.
See Ways to Keep Your Computer Cool for lots of advice, from how to clean your fans, to other tips that can help keep the heat at bay.
Your computer is no different. Keeping your files and folders tidy in your virtual world and clearing the dust and grime that builds up inside and outside your computer, all play a part in keeping it running smooth day in and day out. 

Test Your Computer's CPU Temperature

Using a free monitoring program, you can check your computer's internal temperature, driven mostly by the CPU, to see if it's running too hot and in danger of overheating.
The biggest clue that your computer is not running at an ideal temperature is if you're experiencing any symptoms of overheating, such as the fan constantly running and the computer frequently freezing. However, most computers naturally run hot, so a system utility that can access your computer's internal temperature sensors can help you decide if you need to take steps to cool your laptop or desktop down further. 

Programs to Test Your Computer's CPU Temperature

Several free temperature monitoring programs are available that can show you the CPU temperature as well as other system details like processor load, voltages, and more. Some of them can also automatically or manually adjust the speed of your computer's fan for best performance. 

What's the Ideal CPU Temperature?

You can look up temperature specifications for your particular computer's Intel or AMD processor, but the maximum temperature for most processors is around the 100° Celsius (212° Fahrenheit) range. Before you get to that upper limit, though, your computer will likely have all sorts of performance problems and may be shutting down randomly on its own.
Optimal operating temperature is 50° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit) or below, according to the SpeedFan temperature monitoring program, though many newer processors are comfortable around 70° Celsius (158° Fahrenheit).

Here are several that we've used before: 

Windows CPU Testers 

  1. Fan Speed: In addition to monitoring fan speeds, voltage, and processor temperatures using your computer's internal sensors, SpeedFan can also access S.M.A.R.T. info to determine your hard disk's temperatures. The small application offers fan control, charting, and easy-to-understand graphics. Note: Don't let this site's "download" advertisements fool you. Download SpeedFan through the SpeedFan <version> text link in the Download section.
  2. Core Temp: includes a useful overheat protection option that you can enable to be notified when a critical temperature is reached. In addition to, or in place of, the alert, Core Temp can automatically open a program of your choice or even shut down, sleep, or hibernate the computer. 
  3. This program includes many other options as well: showing the highest temperature per processor or including the temp for all cores, letting you monitor other things like load and RAM utilization, changing the temperature polling interval, and showing lots of detailed CPU-related information like bus speed and maximum VID. 
  4. Note: During installation, Core Temp will automatically install a video game along with the CPU tester. If you don't want it, then make sure to remove the checkmark next to that option a few pages in during setup. It's definitely an option and not necessary to have in order to use Core Temp. 
  5. Linux users can read the CPU temperature from a shell prompt via the lm_sensors package. 
  6. Real Temp: Real Temp is designed specifically to monitor temperature for all Intel single, dual, and quad-core processors. In addition to showing the temperature and load of the processor, it also shows the CPU's safe maximum operating temperature and how far from this maximum temp yours is running at. Real Temp also tracks your highest and lowest temperatures since you opened the program. 
  7. Core Temp: This is one of the more popular temperature monitoring tools out there for laptops and desktops alike. The program supports a wide range of CPUs and can show the temperature for each core in colored numbers right in the notification area (next to the clock). 
  8. CPU Thermometer: This is another free Windows CPU temp tester that's really simple but effective. The program shows your computer at the top along with temperature next to each CPU core. Options let you change between Celsius and Fahrenheit and start the program when Windows starts.

Linux and Mac CPU Testers

  1. System Monitor is a software suite for macOS that sits on the menu bar so that you can easily glance down at various activity monitors. There's, of course, one that shows the CPU temperature on your Mac but also the processing load, RAM consumption, disk activity, storage space, and more.
  2. Temperature Monitor: We haven't tested this program but it is another option for finding CPU information on a Mac if you don't like System Monitor (which you should try first). Know, however, that Temperature Monitor is no longer being maintained but it is still available for download if you want to use it.
  3. Linux users can read the CPU temperature from a shell prompt via the lm_sensors package.

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