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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Setting Up a 10-Step Maintenance Schedule

Maintenance is effective only if it's done regularly, but there's a fine line to be navigated. If maintenance is performed too often, it can become a burden and interfere with more interesting tasks; if it's performed too seldom, it becomes ineffective. How often should you perform the 10 maintenance chores listed in this chapter? Here's a 10-step maintenance plan:

  1. Check your hard disk for errors. Run a basic scan about once a week. Run a more thorough disk surface scan once a month. The surface scan takes a long time, so run it when you won't be using your computer for a while.
  2. Check free disk space. Do this once about once a month. If the free space is getting low on a drive, check it approximately once a week.
  3. Delete unnecessary files. If free disk space isn't a problem, run this chore once every two or three months.
  4. Defragment your hard disk. How often you defragment your hard disk depends on how often you use your computer. If you use it every day, you should run Disk Defragmenter about once a week. If your computer doesn't get heavy use, you probably need to run Disk Defragmenter only once a month or so.
  5. Set restore points. Windows Vista already sets regular system checkpoints, so you need to create your own restore points only when you're installing a program or device or making some other major change to your system.
  6. Back up your files. If you use your computer frequently and generate a lot of data each day, use the Daily automatic backup. For a computer you use infrequently, a Monthly backup is sufficient.
  7. Create a system image backup. You should create a system image backup once a month or any time you make major changes to your system.
  8. Check Windows Update. If you've turned off automatic updating, you should check in with the Windows Update website about once a week.
  9. Check for security vulnerabilities. Run the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer once a month. You should also pay a monthly visit to Microsoft's Security site to keep up to date on the latest security news, get security and virus alerts, and more: www.microsoft.com/security/.
  10. Review Event Viewer logs. If your system appears to be working fine, you need only check the Application and System log files weekly or every couple of weeks. If the system has a problem, check the logs daily to look for Warning or Error events.

Remember that Windows Vista offers a couple of options for running most of these maintenance steps automatically:

  • If you want to run a task every day, set it up to launch automatically at startup, as described in Chapter 5.
  • Use the Task Scheduler (Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Task Scheduler) to set up a program on a regular schedule.
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