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Brett Nordquist (Customer Experience Engineer)

Bring On The New Year

Written on January 20, 2017 by Brett Nordquist

The start to a new year is a good time to review the health of your PC. Last weekend I pulled out my desktop PC and performed the following: 

1. Cleaned inside of case including fans. A can of compressed air and a few minutes is all it takes. Check out the video we created for more tips on cleaning your case and fans. 

2. Organized my cables using a couple of large black zip ties. I have to feed cable down through a small hole on my desk or getting them organized into one neat bundle helps keep them in place and my desk looking good. 

3. Cleaned my Corsair K95 mechanical keyboard and mouse with Q-Tips and rubbing alcohol. 

4. Tossed my old mouse pad and bought a new one. No need to attempt to clean mine when a new one is so cheap. 

5. Cleaned the screen and stands of my three monitor using these monitor wipes

I spent maybe an hour completing those five tasks. I was surprised at how much dust had accumulated in my case in the three months since I last cleaned it. I own a Puget Systems Serenity built in an Antec P183 case and getting it off the floor using this monitor stand has helped to reduce the amount of dust and dirt creep into the case. 

With that complete, I decided to take a look at how my computer was running. I use Dropbox to save my most critical documents and make them available across all my devices. But I hadn't taken a full system backup image in a while so I decided to start there. I have two backup drives in my Serenity and decided to save the backup image to one of them. 

Once that was done, I decided to use FileHippo to update my applications. I've used it for many years without any problems. It basically goes out and searches for updates to all your applications. If it finds updates, you can download and install them from within FileHippo. 

The last thing I did was test my battery backup (UPS). If you've invested a few thousand dollars (or much much) on a computer, it's wise to run it off a quality UPS. I decided on the APC Back-UPS BE750G. It comes with 10 outlets (5 battery backup, 5 surge), and simple-to-understand software that monitors the health of the backup including how much energy my PC is consuming.

To test it, I unplugged the APC and it immediately sounded an alarm and notified me that I had about 22 minutes of battery time before I should shut down my computer. Everything was in working order. 

I was feeling pretty good about the work I'd done to keep my computer running smoothly when I decided to run Windows Update. As luck would have it, one update hosed my system to the point where it would boot into windows but a number of services would not start. I was glad that I'd taken a full image backup two weeks earlier. Once I applied the backup image my system returned to normal.

In the meantime, Windows has installed a few updates without any issues. So I'm not exactly certain what happened, but having that full backup saved me many hours. 

What are some of the tasks you perform to keep your PC running well into the new year? 

Tags: Backup, Maintenance, Cleaning, Windows, Updates
Avatar Preston_B

Thanks for the timely article, Brett.

I have an Antec P-180 case that has two screen filters in the front, and one on the bottom of the case. I remove and clean the two front side filters regularly using canned air. If they are really gunky, I wash them gently in warm water with a dab of dish detergent, and allow them air dry. I do the same with the case bottom filter when I remove the case from its cubby hole in my desk. I also dust out the interior of the case and the fans at the same time. I run Speccy, from Piriform every once in a while to keep an eye on temperatures.

I also have an APC battery backup and the PowerChute software. Since I live in an area where power spikes and blackouts are somewhat frequent, the unit has more than paid for itself.

Like you, I make full system images on a regular basis. In my case, I back up to each of two external hard drives. While I have not had any issues that required me to restore Win 10, it is a comfort to know I have that capability. Before I run my backups, I use CCleaner (the free version) to remove temporary files and other unneeded files from my OS drive prior to running my backups.

I really appreciate that Puget Systems posts timely articles that help us keep our computers in top condition!

Posted on 2017-01-21 18:17:46

Hi Preston, I'd not used Speccy before but it's really well done. I didn't realize it's from the same company as CCleaner which I've used for many year. That's a really good idea to run CCleaner before taking a backup. I'm glad to hear your computer is running well.

Posted on 2017-01-21 20:28:56
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