In the early days, home computers were largely self-referential; people used them because they
were interested in them. Now, computers are usually used for real-world tasks, yet they still need some navel-gazing attention at times!
The basic routine maintenance tasks are:
• Data backup
• Malware management
• File system maintenance
To backup is to create a redundant copy, so that if anything should happen to the original file, you have recourse to the backup. The process can be as simple as copying files to diskettes, but this soon becomes a problem where files are too big for diskette, where there are too many files, or where too many diskettes are required. For large data sets, you may need to use a bulk storage medium such as tape, Zip disk, CDR or similar. These are generally faster and more reliable than diskettes.
There’s more on safe computing and malware. Malware includes viruses, worms, trojans, and increasingly invasive commercial applications, and management has several parts:
• Risk avoidance and evaluation – choice of applications and system setup
• Risk avoidance and evaluation – user education and safe computing practice
• Risk detection and destruction – choice and use of antivirus software
• Keeping abreast of malware – antivirus updates and ongoing user education Updating an antivirus generally involves these steps:
• Go to antivirus vendor’s web site via (say) Internet Explorer
• Navigate to the download section of the site
• Download any updates that are relevant, noting where these are saved
• Extract files from downloaded archive to the antivirus program directory OR Select the update option within antivirus software.
File system maintenance
Much can be done during system setup to improve the survivability, maintainability and recoverability of the file system and its data, as discussed on the data management page. Thereafter, there are three tasks required on a regular basis:
• Check that sufficient free space is available;
• Check the file system for errors, and manage these
• Defragment the file system once it is known to be error-free