Computing and Telecommunications Center

CTC HelpDesk

Basic Routine Maintenance for Your Computer

If your computer seems to be running slower than usual, crashes unexpectedly, or is otherwise unstable, you may be in need of some basic computer maintenance. This document discusses the following basic maintenance topics:

  1. Maintaining Current Anti-Virus Software
  2. Maintaining Current Malware Protection Software
  3. Installing Operating System Updates
  4. Clearing the Cache in your Internet Browser(s)
  5. Running Disk Cleanup (in Windows systems)
  6. Running Disk Defragmenter (Windows systems)

The most important step in maintaining your computer's performance is keeping your anti-virus software up-to-date and frequently scanning your computer for viruses. We recommend updating your anti-virus software at least once a week to help ensure the safety of your computer.

Aside from virus protection updates, we also recommend that you install, frequently update, and regularly run malware protection software.* Two popular applications are Anti-Malware (from Malwarebytes) and Spybot - Search & Destroy. These programs are both freeware and can be found at www.download.com. For links to other free anti-virus and anti-malware programs, see Where can I get free anti-virus/anti-malware software?

It is also important to install the latest operating system updates, as recommended by the developer of your operating system. Windows users can install critical updates by opening Internet Explorer and then choosing Tools and Windows Update from the menu. Although Macintosh computers are less susceptible to viruses, their operating systems should also be updated regularly. Macintosh users can install updates by clicking on the Apple menu and choosing Software Update.

Maintenance we suggest performing approximately once a month is to clear the cache (memory) in your Internet browser(s). We recommend clearing it more often if you are a frequent Internet user. This reduces the amount of hard disk space your cookies and temporary Internet files use.  Follow these steps to clear the cache in your browser(s).

  1. Open your browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc...).  For Safari, see Step 6.
  2. Press Ctrl+Shift+Delete.  This will open the cache settings window for your browser.
  3. Carefully review the options presented and select the settings you wish to clear. 
    Note:  In Internet Explorer, make sure to uncheck "Preserve Favorites website data".
  4. After clearing the cache, close all browser windows to ensure that the changes take effect.
  5. Repeat these steps for other browsers as needed.
  6. To clear the cache using Safari:  Open Safari.  In the upper left corner, click on Safari and choose Empty Cache.  Close all Safari windows to ensure that the changes take effect.

    For more detailed instructions for clearing the cache in your browser, see:
    www.wikihow.com/Clear-Your-Browser%27s-Cache 

Finally, if you are running a Windows operating system, you may want to run Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter. To find these tools, click on Start (or the Windows button), and go to My Computer (or Computer).  Right-click on the Local Disk (C:) and choose Properties.  The Disk Cleanup option is displayed (under the General tab).  Click on the Tools tab to locate the Defragmenter.

Disk Cleanup removes selected unnecessary files on your hard drive, freeing up space. If you are unsure of which files to select on the Disk Cleanup list, read the description carefully and then choose whether to have Disk Cleanup delete them from your computer. If you are in doubt after reading the description, do not delete them.

Disk Defragmenter reorganizes the files on your hard drive and helps it run more efficiently. Please be aware that this process can take several hours, and you should not interrupt it while it is running.

To learn more about enhancing the performance of your computer, as well as other basic maintenance information, see Virus Information and How to Protect your Computer from Virus Attacks.


*FHSU does not endorse any particular anti-virus or anti-malware solution, and other companies not mentioned here may provide comparable programs. Third-party programs listed here are not affiliated with Fort Hays State University or the CTC HelpDesk, and while we feel it is very important to use anti-virus and anti-malware programs, we cannot make any guarantees regarding their use.

For assistance or for more information…

visit the Fort Hays State University CTC HelpDesk in Tomanek Hall, Room 113, view our Web site at www.fhsu.edu/ctc/helpdesk/ or call us at (785) 628-5276 or 1-800-628-FHSU. Before calling for problem assistance, write down the steps you have done so far and any error message(s) you may have received.