Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Give long life to your PC...

Prescriptions for your PC’s longevity

Rx

Have more Memory

Memory may not be an issue if your PC is new enough. Your PC may have installed more RAM than the entire capacity of Hard Disk of a PC that is few years old. If your PC has Hard Disk more than 10 GB and RAM greater than 128 MB then you can safely skip this prescription to follow next one. Simply be sure that if you have assigned virtual memory manually, then it should be sufficient and big enough to dump data of your RAM. But if your PC is few years old and low on memory, you can increase its life by installing more RAM and Bigger Hard Disk (for bigger Virtual Memory), since small RAM makes your Hard Disk and PC to work overtime. Further, do not stuff unwanted programs and files to your Hard Disk even if you have large Hard Disk. These unwanted stuffs may tends to make your PC slow since your PC need to search huge database and scan huge registry for starting and running applications.

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Update Your Device drivers

Scientists, researchers and developers constantly work overtime to refine their products and devices. Every day some new features are added, bugs are removed and products are upgraded. Therefore it is recommended to install latest, updated driver for your hardware; especially for your Graphic card, Sound card, Modem and BIOS chip. Newer PCs have Driver for their mother board too, and this also needs updated. Updated device driver fixes known problems and enhances performances of your devices.

In Windows OS, updating device drivers are fairly easy. Get new driver from manufacturer’s web site and down load the appropriate driver file in your hard disk. Often, they are compressed for quick downloading, so you have to decompress them prior to installation. Now, through control panel’s device manager, you can change driver for your devices. Some driver files are self executable compressed file that expands and installs upon running those. In Linux and UNIX, device drivers are installed as modules in Operating System’s Kernel hence you need to recompile Kernel that may be tricky. BIOS upgrades are also tricky and you need special precautions and procedure to upgrade them. Make sure that to uninstall the old driver prior to installing new one else you may encounter driver conflicts, and your device may stop functioning. You can find updated driver for your devices from some download sites such as http://www.drivershq.com, http://mrdriver.com, and http://www.download.com. In general, device drivers are distributed free. However, keep in mind that some latest driver may not work for older devices and hardware since they are exclusively made for some new features in new devices and new hardware.

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Run Disk diagnostic utilities regularly



Run disk diagnostic utilities such as scan disk and disk defragmenter at regular intervals. With these tools, you can improve your PC’s performance, get advance information about your Hard Disk’s condition, recover lost space and remove hard disk errors. You can also use third party utilities like Norton’s Speed disk and Disk Doctor for fine tuning your Hard Disks and removing errors from it.

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Condition your PC’s power supply

For your PC’s better health, a good UPS that delivers smooth sinusoidal output is ideal. UPS with battery power monitor software lets you save your work prior to power failure. If a good UPS is out of your budget then at least you must use a good Spike suppressor. A mobile spike suppressor is must for your laptop/mobile PC since you never know the condition of power at sites you visit. There are multi socket surge suppressor that provides you protection for you PC as well as some other devices such as modem, printers, scanners, and other USB devices. If you are using Laptop or any portable PC, then you can increase battery life by setting power saving feature from control panel. In Windows OS, Click on Start button, go to settings then click on Control Panel and select Power options. Select either of the option Hibernate or Standby. Whereas Hibernate shuts down the computer at the current state which can be retrieved quickly, standby only close your monitor and hard drive. Both are used as time and power saving tool. Retrieving from standby is quicker than PC’s hibernation, however; if you want your portable PC is to be kept off for considerably longer time then using hibernation is best option. These settings for battery and electric supply must be different in each case and should be considerably lower for battery option (a typical setting is 30 minutes for Electric supply and 3 Minutes for Battery supply).

Make sure to turn off your Laptop or portable PC ten minutes prior to packing it up in your brief case so as to allow it to cool sufficiently. If you pack up it immediately after a marathon presentation, it may be too hot and remain in hot state inside your briefcase for a long time and thus its electronic parts may get damaged.

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Use you PC regularly

Like other things in your life, the phrase “use it or loose it” holds good for your PC too. Most parts of your PC except disk drives are static and hence needs little maintenance. However, since Indian sub continent is situated in tropical zone which is hot and humid most of the year, a little more care is necessary for your PC’s longevity. You have to use your PC regularly to warm it up enough to drive out moisture content off your PC; especially if you are not using Air Conditioning. If you are using Air Cooling in summer, then ensure that Air Cooler’s air flow do not reach to your PC directly, since they contain tiny droplets of water and may harm your PC. Air coolers are notorious in increasing moisture content to a high level. If environmental temperature is too high during summer, you may need to install additional cooling fans inside your PC. Similarly, you have to maintain dust free environment for your PC, and if it is not possible, then you need to clean your PC’s inner parts by blowing air or by cleaning through a soft brush. Suspended dust particles may creep inside your PC and deposit over the parts of circuitry and work as heat insulators. The layer of dust increases your PC’s working temperature. Further, with the help of moisture, dust may cause electrical disturbances and eventual failure of devices. There is a small battery inside the PC that keeps the clock running inside when the PC is off. Some of the batteries are of rechargeable type. When you keep your PC off for a long time, the battery may drain quickly since it may not get charged and your system may give you error messages during boot process.

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Remove removable media

Floppies are on death bed, but CD and DVD are young and running. If you play lot of games, audio or movies off CDROM or DVD drive, then try coping its content to your Hard Disk and running it from there (though some disks are copy protected, and cannot be copied traditionally, and need special technique and software to copy them). Anyway if you run these from CDROM / DVD drive, some of its contents are temporarily being continuously copied to hard disk for processing. When you run your games or movies from Hard Disk, CDROM / DVD drives are kept idle. These high speed drives generates lot of noises and heat. Besides, life of your CDROM / DVD drive’s lens that read and writes through LASER beam is increased this way. Except for saving and retrieving contents, it is advisable to not use removable Media unless extremely essential.

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Use Cleansers and Lubricants

PC and its peripherals need regular cleaning. When you feel jerky movements of mouse pointer, you instantly know that the time to clean mouse rollers has come. Clean it with cotton or cellophane tape. Cotton swab available for ear cleaning can be effectively used for cleaning mouse rollers. Your printer’s Rollers, gears and guide bars also need frequent cleaning and periodic lubrication. You can use maintenance spray like Pidilite’s Zorrik that cleans, protects and lubricates printer’s moving parts and gears etc. After spray, do not forget to clean extra fluid with the help of clean cotton cloth that is free from loose fibers. Colin spray can be used for cleaning monitor screen and other plastic parts of your computer. Key Board also needs frequent cleaning since dust can accumulate between the space of different keys and may cause some of keys to malfunction.

These simple prescriptions can be followed without any pain and you will see in the end that your PC is working forever without giving you any trouble.

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