Most people don’t do enough computer maintenance—but a few people get overzealous in their computer maintenance and start to do things that are harmful to their computer. Here’s a list of a few things you shouldn’t do if you want your computer to keep running smoothly.
Computer Maintenance Does Not Require Memory Optimization
There are a bunch of programs out their that claim that they’ll optimize your memory. Other programs claim to defragment your memory. All of these programs imply that they’ll make your computer run faster.
I’m not sure that claim is correct. Even if they do optimize your memory, the speed increase is probably quite small.
But if the gain is small, the risk is high. Messing with computer memory puts every program on your computer at risk. That’s why, in normal operation, only one program is allowed to allocate computer memory—the operating system, Windows.
Memory optimizers may make your computer unstable. I’d especially mistrust shareware memory optimizers or those produced by a non-brand-name company.
You don’t need memory optimizers to perform good computer maintenance, so I suggest that you just avoid them altogether.
Good Computer Maintenance Gone Wrong
One very useful type of computer maintenance is cleaning your Windows Registry. Back in the Windows 95 and Windows 98 days, registry cleaning was practically mandatory at least once a year. These days it’s optional, but I still recommend it.
What I don’t recommend is using a disreputable registry cleaner. There are hundreds of registry cleaners on the market and the vague generic ones often can’t be trusted.
Cleaning your Windows Registry is a lot like purging old records from your home file cabinet. You wouldn’t let some random stranger clean out your file cabinet—he might get rid of something that’s very important to you.
Likewise, you shouldn’t use random registry cleaning software—not even if it’s a free download. Many major and reputable software companies produce top-notch registry cleaning software. It costs a little more money, but it can save you from having to reinstall all of your programs.
The Top Computer Maintenance Mistake
A tiny little mistake can kill your computer. That mistake is misreading or not following the version instructions for your computer maintenance software.
Software which fixes your computer on one version of Windows can easily break your computer on another version of Windows. Newer software is usually smart enough not to run on older versions of Windows, but older software might break modern versions of Windows, so be very careful.
How To Ruin Your Hardware
In most cases it’s nearly impossible to ruin computer hardware using software. In the typical worst case scenario, when you break your computer with software you just need to reinstall Windows and restore all of your data from backups.
But I can think of at least one case where routine computer maintenance can ruin your hardware—when you excessively defragment a Solid State Drive (SSD).
Most solid state drives are small and portable. They’re the Secure Digital (SD) cards or the USB thumb drives. Some larger SSDs are used in netbooks and small portable drives with between 32 gigabytes and about 500 gigabytes.
All disk drives wear out, but solid state drives wear out quicker if you write to them a lot—and defragmenting your disk drive requires a lot of writing operations as it moves data from one part of the drive to another.
If you use solid state drives, be careful. Don’t defragment your drive more than once a month, or you could perform the kind of computer maintenance that kills your computer.