- Regular maintenance is essential for preserving the lifespan of your PC. Cleaning dust filters, deleting junk files, and backing up your system are key rituals to keep your PC running smoothly.
- Dust buildup not only ruins the aesthetics of your PC but can also impact system performance. Use isopropyl alcohol wipes and compressed air to clean dust filters and fans regularly.
- Creating frequent backups is another great way to keep an eye on your PC, and there are many ways to do it.
While the PC building process may end once you’ve installed the operating system, maintaining your PC is something you’ll have to do for a long time. With proper care, your high-end gaming rig can easily last for years, so it’s vital to perform regular maintenance to keep it in tip-top working order.
Sticking to a monthly maintenance plan for your high-spec system may not sound very enticing, but it can go a long way in preserving its lifespan. So, I’ve put together six rituals that I follow every month to keep all my PCs running smoothly.
1 Cleaning my dust filters
Because nobody likes a dust-caked desktop
No matter how hard you try, your shining PC cabinet will inevitably attract dust. Dust buildup doesn’t just ruin the aesthetics of your gaming rig. If left untreated, it can start impacting your system performance. Excessive dirt and grime can reduce the efficiency of your cooling setup, making it one of the biggest culprits behind thermal throttling.
Fortunately, you don’t have to clean your PC from the ground up every month. Since most modern-day cabinets include dust filters, all you have to do is slide them out and dislodge the specks of dirt stuck to them with the help of isopropyl alcohol wipes and a can of compressed air. But if your computing setup dwells in a particularly dusty room, you might want to give the CPU, GPU, and cabinet fans the same compressed air treatment.
2 Deleting the junk files
There’s no reason to keep useless files on your PC
Speaking of cleaning your PC, you can also use the built-in Windows Disk Cleanup utility to delete certain useless files and free up disk space. The temporary files created by apps alone can easily hit a few gigabytes within weeks, so you should make it a habit to clean them every once in a while. Aside from the Temporary Files, you can also get rid of downloaded program files, temporary internet files, and thumbnails without any repercussions.
That said, I advise staying far away from Windows registry cleanup tools like CCleaner. Sure, these apps can clear up additional drive space by getting rid of old registry settings, but deleting DLL files may disrupt Windows services and render the apps that require the registry files unusable.
3 Backing up my system
Regular backups can save your precious data
Regardless of your PC specifications, it’s still vulnerable to data loss via drive failure, sudden power outages, disk corruption, and many other factors. Therefore, creating frequent backups of your drives is always a good practice. There are plenty of ways to back up your system, and each method has its fair share of pros and cons.
The System Restore functionality in Windows 11 can be a lifesaver if you encounter issues after a buggy PC update. However, since it doesn’t save any personal files or apps, you might be unable to recover all your data. This makes backing up important files to online clouds a solid alternative, though you might have to go for a paid plan fee if you attempt to store all your files on a cloud. Windows 11 also has a backup utility that syncs all the marked folders to OneDrive, but it’s not very reliable as any deleted/corrupted folders can’t be recovered if they are synced with the OneDrive servers.
Creating frequent backups of your drives is always a good practice.
If you’re willing to set aside some time, you can create an image backup using Macrium Reflect and store it on an external drive. If you want a free backup app, Veeam is a great alternative that can also automatically create monthly image backups of your system.
I typically use a mixture of all these methods as my backup strategy. Monthly System Restore points can preserve system files while an online cloud is good enough for personal data, and creating frequent image backups adds another layer of security to my data.
4 Disabling auto startup for newly installed programs
Startup programs hog too many resources when you boot up your system
If you’re in the habit of installing tons of apps like me, you’d want to open up the Task Manager every once in a while to disable startup programs. Besides improving the performance of your system, turning off the startup tasks can shorten its boot time, especially if you’re running your Windows 11 machine on a hard drive.
5 Defragmenting my hard drives
Disk fragmentation can cut down the read and write speeds of your HDD
Hard drives may not be as fast as SSDs, but their large storage capacities and economical dollar-per-terabyte ratio make them the better option for archiving old data. Unfortunately, HDDs are vulnerable to disk fragmentation, an undesirable condition where your data gets stored as discontinuous clusters of data after multiple read and write cycles.
Since disk fragmentation can drastically reduce the speed of an HDD, I defragment all my hard drives every month. Windows 11 makes this process even simpler by allowing you to automate the defragmentation process with the help of its Optimize Drives tool.
6 Updating the GPU drivers
Even the most powerful graphics card can’t push high framerates without proper drivers
Since most operating systems include built-in support for your hardware, there’s no reason to manually install the drivers for all components and peripherals unless you run into errors. However, GPUs are an exception to this rule, and unless the latest driver is extremely buggy, you’re always better off installing the newer driver versions.
Besides receiving patches and bug fixes, regularly updating the drivers on your graphics cards can help boost performance in newer titles. Luckily, the procedure to upgrade the GPU drivers is pretty straightforward, as all you have to do is grab the .exe file for the latest drivers and run it on your system.
And that’s my monthly PC maintenance checklist. Of course, you don’t need to follow such a rigid schedule, and you can easily put off some of these tasks for a few months if you aren’t a power user. But if you’re looking to extend the lifespan of your PC, you’d want to give it the proper care it deserves!