Routine computer maintenance consists of tasks that you should perform on your computer daily, weekly or monthly in order to keep the computer running efficiently, fast and for a long time. Most maintenance tasks take only a few minutes and should be part of the routine of computer usage.
Over time, mostly in one week increments, the hard drive will accumulate "trash." This includes temporary files, recycle bin files and cookies that clutter up your hard drive and slow down you computer. If you use Internet Explorer, for example, and don't clean out the temporary files, it may seem like the browser is moving at a crawl. Running DiskClean in Window's System Tools will help.
As you use more and more files and add files to the hard drive, they get split into fragments and are spread to different locations on the hard drive. Run Defrag, which is also located in System Tools. Defrag will pull those fragments into one location, making it easier and quicker for the computer to find the full file. This procedure should be done about once a month.
Keeping computer software up-to-date fixes bugs and security holes as well as provides the latest versions of software that typically run better. Most software programs allow you to set automatic updating for certain times, which ensures regular updating. This is particularly recommended for antivirus software.
Backing up your computer, while not strictly a maintenance function, should be on your maintenance checklist. Using an external hard drive and backup software, you should run the software at least once a week or set up the program to do it automatically. That way, if your computer crashes, you won't lose any data you've saved on the computer's hard drive.
In addition to software maintenance, you should also do regular physical cleaning. If you have a desktop computer, open up the case and blow out the dust inside. For laptops, use canned air to blow in and around the keys to get rid of the dirt, dust and other debris that has accumulated there. Dust and debris can create heat, which can affect your computer's motherboard performance. The more that collects, the more of a chance your computer can overheat, requiring a shutdown.