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PC Health Check

Are you finding your PC is starting to slow down a lot. Sometimes hangs and doesn't do anything or may even be acting funny. Hopefully following the steps below will help your machine get back to where it was but, as with all technology, its not an exact science. With so many things your PC needs to do and run now there are infinite scenarios of conflicting programs or pieces of hardware so this is a general maintenance check sort of thing that you can and probably should do every couple of months. There are also a couple of points to help increase your online security and if something does go catastrophically wrong you have some way of getting your data back.

A quick heads up, some of these health checks require admin privileges and will not be available if you are using a machine that you don't have the admin login.

1. Disk check - Check Defrag and Optimise Drives

Go to Settings>System>Storage and select "Optimise Drives"

Select the drive you wish to optimise and click optimise

It may take some some but this will help speed up your drives

2. Windows Updates - Keeping Windows Up to Date

Go to Settings>Update & Security>Windows Update and click "Check for updates"

This will check if there are any updates for your machine and any optional updates as shown above. These include driver updates and bug fixes so can help speed up your machine

3. Driver Updates - Checking Device Manager Getting a little more advanced is checking your device manager to make sure everything is running normally on your machine. Driver issues can cause your machine to perform slower that usual so this is a good place to look

Right Click on the Start button and select Device Manager

This will bring up the Device Manager app and you are looking for any "?" or warning icons as seen below

This shows there is a missing or out of date driver and right-clicking the device listed allows you to update the driver.

4. Bloatware - Checking for unwanted apps

This is a fairly straight forward and easy to do task. It is recommended to do this every so often to help clean out your machine and make it a little leaner.

To remove bloatware all we need to do is go into Settings>Apps>Apps & Features and look through all the apps listed checking for any unwanted or unrecognised apps that are installed and selecting the app and clicking uninstall. It's as easy as that

5. Malware - Install Malwarebytes and run a system check

We recommend Malwarebytes to check and protect your machine from any malicious software (malware)

To do this download Malwarebytes or your preferred anti-malware software and run a full system scan to check and remove any malware that could be slowing your machine down. It is recommended to carry out a full system scan on a regular occasion to help prevent anything untoward infecting your machine.

6. Security - Windows Security

Windows has its own security as well with firewalls, network protection and many other things and is recommended to always have these on and running.

To check Windows Security open Settings>Update & Security and check that everything has a green tick to say it is working as intended. Otherwise follow the onscreen instruction to fix any errors or issues Windows Security is flagging up. This will help prevent any security issues or harmful attacks that may occur while on the internet.

7. Resource usage - Check Task Manager for unusual activity

Checking your system resources is an effective way to single out any apps that are particularly greedy. This is best done when you have just started your machine up as this is when the system is usually at its busiest where everything is fighting to load up To check for what's using a lot of resources press Ctrl+Shift+Del and this will bring up the Task Manager. To see the system resources click the "More details" at the bottom left

This will then show all the processes running on the system and a percentage of the CPU, Memory and Disk. When not using anything strenuous or booting up the CPU and Disk should sit below 50% give or take with Memory being possibly sitting much higher but is fine as long as its below around 80% (Google Chrome can use a lot of memory)

If anything is higher you can sort by highest usage by clicking the tabs, CPU Memory or Disk and check what app is using the most resources and you can then look at closing that app or uninstalling it entirely if you dont use it as, in this case, it's probably bloatware or malware.

8. Bios (UEFI) Update - Checking your BIOS (UEFI) version via msinfo32

This is much more advanced and is only really recommended if you know what you are doing and are comfortable going into the BIOS or UEFI and changing settings

First you will need to check the version of your BIOS or UEFI by opening the Run dialog box (Win+R) and typing in "msinfo32"

Click okay and your System Information box will appear listing all your hardware. You will need the BIOS version and the BaseBoard product

Next you will need to go to your manufacturers website and check the latest release for your Motherboard (BaseBoard)

As you can see this version is newer than the one listed on my machine so I can download this latest release (not the Beta version as that may come with other issues) and install the new update.

Each motherboard is different so please check your manual on how to do this if you are happy and comfortable using the BIOS as previously stated.

9. Password manager - Are you using a password manager

Password managers are an easy and effective way of keeping all your passwords secure with randomised phrases or characters without the risk of forgetting what they are. There are a lot of good password managers out that will allow you to never worry about passwords again as you will only need one master password and everything else is stored securely either on your machine or in the cloud depending on the provider you choose. A couple of reputable password managers are Last Pass, KeePass and Dash Lane. They offer slightly different packages depending on your usage.

We have written an article here about this that delves a little deeper as to why you should definitely have a password manager

10. Back-up - The Cloud is not a back-up

Contrary to popular belief, cloud back-ups like OneDrive or Google Drive is not a true back-up solution. Yes, they save your files elsewhere allowing you to access them from different devices but if you accidentally delete a file that is synced to your machine it will be deleted on the cloud as well and if you don't notice a file or folder has been deleted for 30 days its just gone, no way of retrieving it. A real back-up is something that allows you to access all your previous files including different versions of the same file so that if something is overwritten you can still get the original back. Our recommendation for this is Crash Plan as they offer plans on a per machine basis meaning the cost is low and they will be able to replace your drive if it fails and once installed it's as though nothing ever happened. Another great feature is you can set up a local drive as a back up so that if a file does end up corrupt or deleted you can grab it locally and not have to download it which depending on your internet can be considerably faster

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