Computers have gotten consistently better and cheaper over the years. However, we are still far off from being able to consider the Computer a throwaway technology. To this day, in most situations a PC purchase is considered to be a multi-year investment, which is only further extended by the quality and capabilities of most modern processors. Gone are the days that new programs and applications required major hardware upgrades, with modern programs operating fine on five to six year old PCs and many services moving to the cloud.
Upgrading individual hardware pieces, like installing new RAM (Memory) or a new solid state drive, are a great way to increase performance easily, but are not the only options for extending the useful life of your PC.
Protect against power interruption and surges
The PC is an collection of circuits and components that are extremely susceptible to fluctuation in power. A significant power fluctuation of any kind is capable of causing stress to a PC as well as damaging delicate components or the power supply. To combat this danger, computer owners should invest in either a reliable surge protector or the more robust Uninterruptible Power Supply, known as a (UPS).
Surge protectors do exactly what their name suggests; they protect your electronics from power surges and fluctuations. However, surge protectors can lose their ability to protect electronics from surges after a single spike in power without interrupting its ability to power devices. Many folks forget this. This can lead to PC users with a false sense of security, and a vulnerable machine. Consult your surge protector manufacturer's instructions for recognizing protection faults, and check your device regularly to ensure proper surge protection.
An Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) is essentially a very powerful and efficient surge protector combined with a built-in power supply designed to automatically engage when power is lost or interrupted. The UPS is most commonly used to prevent problems from affecting your PC due to unexpected power loss, which could include lost files and documents and file corruption. The amount of time that a UPS can protect and provide power to your PC is limited by its battery size and rating, but even the smallest UPS will provide you with enough time to properly shut down your system.
Keep your hard drive healthy
Your computer's hard driver can and will become corrupt with file errors and bad sectors when subjected to improper shutdowns, crashes, and other issues. This type of corruption can damage files, cause system instability, as well as prevent Windows from booting if allowed to continue. Luckily, disk corruption can be found, managed, and automatically repair with the tools provided in the Windows operating system.
To identify and repair these potential problems with a PC's drive, use the Check Disk tool. This program offers a few different scanning and repair options, which include the scan with automatic repair options and the scan without repair. You should be forewarned however that the full scan with automatic repair can take several hours and requires that you not use the computer during the process. The scan without repair takes less time, coming in a 5 to 10 minutes and allows use of the PC.
To run a Check Disk in Windows 7 or earlier versions, simply click your Start button and then select Computer. In the new screen, select the drive you wish to scan by right-clicking on it and then select Properties. Now select the Tools tab and then click the selection for Error-checking. The Check Disk window will appear and provide options for running the scan. You will run a full automatic scan if you select both checkboxes or just ,a simple scan by leaving both boxes unchecked. The final option will allow you to schedule the Check Disk after your next restart.
In Windows 8, as soon as you access the Check Disk program it will report any problems already recognized. This program will suggest a full scan and repair if problem have been found, but will still offer a quick check if no errors are present.
In order to access the full scan's report on a Windows 7 or earlier PC, press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog, type eventvwr.msc, and press Enter. Double-click the Windows Logs, the right-click on Application, and click Find to search for the chkdsk results. For Windows 8 machines, you have a choice to follow the same instructions as above, or you can rick-click on the Window icon of your desktop taskbar and then select Event Viewer.
Keep it clean
It is a fact of computer ownership that eventually the internal hardware of your computer will become coated in dust, unless you work and live in a sterile, clean room environment. If this pile of dust and debris is left unchecked, it will inevitably suffocate your PC, increasing the heat generated and held internally, and eventually causing damage to components. A dirty PC will be a slow and under-performing system that will more than likely fail.
Depending on your environment, a PC should be cleaned thoroughly every 6 to 12 months or every 3 months in decidedly dusty areas. Use compressed air cans to remove excess dust and small debris from internal PC components and only perform the cleaning on a completely shut down system in a well-ventilated room.