• Norm McLaughlin

Windows PC Health Checks

Updated: Dec 26, 2021


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It's a good idea for your Windows computer to have a regular health check

If you have a Windows computer, it’s a good idea for it to have a regular check-up to ensure that it’s performing at its best. Norm's Computer Services offers Windows PC health checks and PC tune-ups for clients in Brisbane, Logan and the Redlands. The PC health check and tune-up is a fairly rigorous process involving seven main steps. In this post I'll describe the steps. You may want to work through this process yourself but, if not, don't hesitate to get in touch and I'll be happy to help you out.


1. Hard Drive Health Check


The first step is to check the health of your computer’s hard drive. If it turns out that your hard drive is nearing the end of its life, then there would be no need to carry out the remaining steps. It would be a much better solution to replace the hard drive and reinstall the operating system and the applications you use. If your hard drive is indeed approaching the end of its life, it’s an ideal opportunity to replace it with a Solid State Drive (SSD) which will result in a significant improvement in the speed of your computer.

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The health of a traditional SATA hard drive can be checked by reading its SMART status. This is self-monitoring technology which is built in to hard drives and which provides information about the status of the drive, and its likelihood of imminent failure. The status can be checked using command prompt but I prefer to use a utility which readily provides more information. There are plenty of options out there but I normally use a tool called CrystalDIskInfo. This utility returns the health status of the drive, together with lots of other information.


Checking a hard drive’s SMART status is only relevant if it’s a traditional spinning SATA hard drive. This technology doesn’t apply to SSD’s. If your computer already has an SSD, you can skip this step and move on.


2. Hard Disk Clean-up

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Once you’ve established that your hard drive is healthy, it’s time to clean it up by removing unnecessary clutter and files which are no longer required. The easiest way to do this is within File Explorer. Just right-click on your hard drive and select Properties. Then click on Disk Clean-up. After a short time you will be presented with a window showing files which can be safely deleted without harming your operating system.


Tick the boxes to select the items you’d like to delete and then click OK. If you want to free up even more space, you can click on the box labelled Clean up system files. After doing so you'll be presented with another window in which you can again select items you’d like to delete.


3. Malware & Virus Scan

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No computer health check is complete without a scan for malware and viruses. You may have antivirus software running on your computer but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re virus-free. Check out my last blog post which is a guide to comprehensive malware and virus removal. For the purpose of this health check a single scan with a high quality malware scanner is all that is required.



For this purpose, there is no better product

than Malwarebytes. It’s available on a 7-day free trial and, for the purpose of a one-off malware removal, the free trial is adequate. Malwarebytes does an outstanding job and provides thorough removal of malware and spyware.


When running a scan using Malwarebytes I would recommend enabling the Scan for rootkits option, as well as the option to Use expert system algorithms to identify malicious files. Enabling these options will result in a more comprehensive scan.


4. Uninstall Unnecessary Software

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Most computers that have been around for a while will have had a number of applications and software packages installed. You may find that you even have software installed which you don’t recall installing, or which you used for a one-off purpose but then neglected to remove.


Traditionally you would have opened the Programs and Features pane in Control Panel to view a list of the programs installed on your Windows computer. However, nowadays you may well find that not all your installed applications will actually appear in the list in Control Panel. In particular, apps which were installed from the Microsoft Store will not appear in the list.


In order to see the full list of apps and programs installed on your computer, enter the Windows Settings by pressing the Windows key with I. Then select Apps to see the full list. You can then uninstall any one of these by clicking on it and selecting Uninstall.


Although the Windows uninstaller is the standard method for removal of installed apps and programs, it tends to leave some files and registry entries behind on the computer following the uninstall.

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For this reason, I prefer to use a more comprehensive uninstaller such as Revo Uninstaller. Using a product such as this means that no trace of the installed app or program is left behind following uninstallation.


As you can see, the software offers uninstallation of both programs and Windows apps.


5. Optimise Computer Startup

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Often when software is installed on a computer, it is automatically configured to be launched when the computer starts up. Depending on the software you have installed on your computer, this can result in a lengthy list of apps and programs which are unnecessarily consuming the resources of the computer. I would normally disable almost all of these as any software you require can be launched manually when you require it.


To access the startup items, enter Task Manager by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting it. Then click on More details and select the Start-up­ tab.


Simply click on any item you’d like to not launch at startup and then click on Disable.


6. Check Running Processes and Services


This step is a little technical and requires more in-depth knowledge of your Windows operating system. It’s also not entirely necessary since, by this stage, you’ve already run a malware scan, uninstalled unnecessary software, and disabled items which don’t need to be launched at startup.


Essentially this step involves manually scanning the list of processes which are running on the computer, and the list of Windows services, in order to identify any rogue processes or services which should be terminated.


You can view the running processes by entering Task Manager and selecting the Processes tab. You will then see a lengthy list of the apps which are running, the background processes, and Windows processes.


In order to view the services, click on the Windows start button, and start typing Services. Then select it when it appears as the best match.



7. Clear Browser Caches

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The final step in your computer health check and tune-up is to clear the caches of the internet browsers you use. You can do this manually, but I prefer to use a tool called CCleaner. This software is totally safe to use, and it not only clears your browser caches but also checks the health of your computer. By this stage in the process your computer should already be in a healthy state, but it’s a useful final step. The free version of the software is all you require for this one-off health check. The software also has other optional features which you may find useful.


Conclusion


If you've followed the seven steps described here, your Windows PC is likely to be performing well and you shouldn't need to carry out this pc tune-up procedure again for a while. You may have arrived at this blog post by searching for something like "computer maintenance near me" or "pc technician near me". If you're looking for someone near you to assist you then please don't hesitate to get in touch. Norm's Computer Services covers a wide range of suburbs in Brisbane, Logan and the Redlands and I'd be more than happy to come and check the health of your Windows computer for you.


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