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Monthly Computer Maintenance

Many of you subscribe to my monthly maintenance plan. I review your computers each month and report back to you. Some clients do this quarterly instead. The basic form I use is here.

If you'd like to do it yourself, here are my instructions. These issues should be checked every month. You can do it yourself, or hire me to do it for you. But check each month. I've seen too many people who were attacked by viruses because they didn't maintain their antivirus. I've seen people who needed a backup only to find that it hadn't run for 3 years! This kind of check usually takes only 20 or 30 minutes and will spot issues before they turn into actual problems.

Antivirus checks:

The real-time logs show what malware the antivirus program has protected you from. If over one attack a month was prevented by your antivirus, you need to change your behavior. Eventually, the attackers will get through. If you are careful online, you should have no attacks each month.

The scan logs show you the results of deep scans which I set up to run weekly. These will pick up malware that made it past the real-time checker. Check that these scans were run, and that hopefully, they found nothing.

Expiration is just checking for when your antivirus license expires and making certain you renew it.

Program Updates: Most antivirus programs rarely check for full program updates. They do simple database updates frequently. There is usually a manual check to force program updates.


Check that the Microsoft updates are being done. Also, if you didn't buy your computer from me, but rather from some vendor, check and see if they have updates that should be done. Many vendors supply an updating program. I install Ninite updater on all my computers. It checks for updates with 92 common apps and helps you update them. If updates are available, the Ninite icon turns red. When no updates are available for your installed apps, it is neon green.


I use either WinPatrol or Autoruns to determine if there are any suspicious or unneeded applications starting with Windows. Windows allows you to control these through task manager, and also the latest Windows 10 update (1803) has a startup app control program (Settings/Apps/Startup). My current favorite is Autoruns which I set to check each item against Virus Total (a service that checks programs against over 60 anti-virus programs).

I install TempCleaner for most of my clients. It removes temp files at startup, so I check that it is running. Programs create thousands of small temporary files while they run, and often fail to clean them up afterwards. It is best to remove these temporary files but NOT delete any in use. I assure this by having TempCleaner run when Windows starts.


  • Off-site: I always check that backups are running and getting done. For Spideroak you can check the Main Dashboard and Completed submenu to see that what you've been working on is getting backed up. Another simple check is to make a quick test file in the documents folder and see that it gets backed up. Then I check the expiration date of the online backup subscription. Finally, I check whether there are software updates, and what has been changed. Normally I install them.
  • Local Backup: I use Second Copy for backups. Check their log files to determine if there are any problems. The logs will also explain what the problems are.
  • Images: When I set up systems, in addition to data backups both locally and off-site, I also do a monthly image of the entire system drive. So I check on the external backup disk that it is being made and is an appropriate size.


I always check a computer's temperature. For most clients, I've installed the wonderful coretemp which I wrote about here. It is important to prevent your computer from overheating. I empty the recycle bin and if the client is on Windows 10; I check the Windows Defender Security Center, which provides a nice system check.

Finally, I run SuperAntiSpyware to have a second opinion checking for possible malware. This includes updating their database and then running a quick check. I used to use Malwarebytes, but it hounded my clients to upgrade and I stopped using it. I only use the free version. I do not want two malware checking programs running simultaneously. We already have a regular antivirus. I just want a monthly manual check for what our main program might have missed.

Frequently I check for something else that came up during the month. Perhaps a new attack or browser update, but in general, if you do these maintenance items every month, your computer will run much better and have fewer problems.

Date: June 2018

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