Keeping your Mac or PC running at its optimal performance is not difficult and a small amount of effort can go a long way. Macs and PCs may operate quite differently, but the tenets of basic maintenance remain the same on virtually any platform.
They certainly have a habit of presenting themselves when it's most inconvenient. But they're important! OS updates, Service Packs, and security updates all patch security holes found since the software you're running was installed.
- Windows notifies you when updates are ready to be downloaded or installed. You will usually need to reboot for the updates to complete because Windows needs to update files being used to run Windows itself. You can usually get to Windows Update from the top of your Start Menu after you click on "All Programs."
- MacOS, similarly, will launch Software Update on a regular basis to check for new updates, and offer to install them. Like Windows, the most serious updates will need you to restart. Software Update is easy to launch on your own; simply click on the Apple logo at the top left of your screen, and click "Software Update."
- Flash, Microsoft Office, and Adobe CC! Don't forget about your applications. Flash checks periodically in the background and notifies you when there's an update. Office and Adobe applications only check for updates when you launch one of the applications. Every now and then, leave that update window open, so you can complete the update when you're finished working.
- iOS & Android, will likewise regularly ask you to update. App updates are available through both OS' respective application stores (App Store on iOS, and the Google Play Store on Android). Operating system updates are available through the settings for both iOS and Android.
For Windows users, antivirus software is necessary for maintaining a clean and functional system. Fortunately, there is an abundance of quality anti-virus applications for you to choose from. Keep in mind that the definitions, what the application uses to identify what is a virus and what isn't, need to be kept up to date. Most applications will do this for you, but it's best to check once in a while.
- Windows users can take advantage of Windows Defender that is included for free on every Windows machine. For more protection, invest in a paid anti-virus software such as Norton Anti-Virus (which Staff and Faculty can buy at a discount using OnTheHub)
- Mac users, just because your computer doesn't come with anti-virus software doesn't mean it isn't susceptible to viruses. For basic protection, you can download the free version of Sophos Home Anti-Virus or for added protection, purchase a copy of Norton Anti-Virus for Macs (which Staff and Faculty can buy at a discount using OnTheHub)
Take note: because anti-virus applications are so important, and everyone knows that these days, rogue malware developers prey upon that fact. Web pop-ups, purporting to be doing a live scan of your computer, and reporting that you have a number of viruses are common while visiting less reputable sites.
This is a lie. Do not be fooled. Always do an Internet search on the name of an anti-virus application to verify its authenticity.
Clearing Out the Junk
Malware and adware are some of the biggest problems affecting computer users today. Keep in mind that malware is not the same as viruses, which is why there’s a difference between antivirus software and anti-malware software. For your anti-malware needs read our guide on Removing Spyware and Malware from your computer.
A lot of trouble can be saved by protecting yourself before anything bad happens. As you use your computer, all kinds of temporary files, cookies, and caches build up. These are not inherently bad but can slow down your computer.
- For Windows, CCleaner is a popular option, as it automates most of the cleaning work for you.
- Mac users can use MalwareBytes, which works much the same as CCleaner, and offers a similar level of automation as well as advanced operations, depending on the user's preferences.
In addition to the above tools, Mac users can do some of the most basic upkeep without additional software.
- You can find a fantastic tool inside your Applications > Utilities folder, called Disk Utility. In addition to monitoring the overall health of your hard drive, if things start to act a little funny you can utilize Disk Utility to verify/repair your disk.