Guest post by Ashley Wilson
Working remotely comes with a lot of freedom and different collaboration etiquette. A remote job brings perks you wouldn’t have in a traditional office, but it comes with its own unique responsibilities too.
If you’re working from the comfort of your home, you can’t exactly make a call up to the IT department whenever there’s an issue with your computer. As a remote worker, you have to troubleshoot your own problems. We’re here to help you understand five fundamental rules you should know about for keeping your PC up and running.
1. Prevention is the Best Medicine
Some of the most common computer problems arise because we don’t address the compounding issues on time.
Running regular maintenance on your PC is one of the best ways to prevent a major problem occurring. And while that level of upkeep may frustrate you, Windows offers a decent variety of tools that can simplify the job. Utilities you should pay the most attention to are the Disk Cleanup and Drive Optimizer tools. Unnecessary files, folders, and apps can build up over time, and you can consider the Disk Cleanup tool as spring cleaning.
It provides a simple checklist format that allows you to identify unnecessary data in your drive and dust it up. You can also largely automate this feature. We suggest that you use the Task Scheduler to automate clearing out temporary files regularly and manually run the Disk Cleanup a few times a year.
Microsoft Drive Optimizer is even easier to make the most of. This defragmenting tool will rearrange the files on your disk drive to ensure you’re making the most efficient use of your space. Set Drive Optimizer to run once a week, and you won’t have to worry about doing anything manually. And while many remote workers prefer Macs because they are more secure and stronger computers that require less maintenance, Windows PCs are still the best-selling computers in the world. You can get a lot more bang for your buck with a Windows PC, but it also requires a bit more DIY knowledge.
2. But You Should Also Have a Backup Plan
Even if you put all the precautions in place to keep your computer running in tip-top shape, there’s still a chance that something could go wrong. That’s why it’s important to back up all your information so you have a fallback plan in case there’s a catastrophic failure. There are a few options here.
Windows 10 has two tools in place: File History and Backup and Recovery. The former is for backing up all your personal information. That includes your Contacts, Libraries, Desktop, and Favorite folders. File History is automatic by default, but have a dedicated drive, either physical or cloud-based, on which to store your personal data. Backup and Recovery is far more comprehensive. It creates an entire system image of your computer so you can recover everything back to the way it was. While most PC owners rarely use the Backup and Recovery tool, we suggest that you schedule backup updates about once a month. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of time recovering your desktop in case something goes wrong.
3. Maintenance Isn’t All-Digital
While keeping your files and software neat and tidy is important, you also need to pay attention to the physical body of your computer.
A dirty machine can be a major trigger for hardware failure, so you should be sure to schedule a manual cleaning in the same way you schedule any other chore around your house. There are tools you can use to get in the space between your keyboard keys, but you’ll also want to open up the actual case to your computer and properly dust it. There’s no need to be nervous. Damaging the hardware requires some serious effort. Turn off your computer, open up the case, and thoroughly dust off the interior components with some puffs of compressed air. Once you get a feel for how to open your case, you should be able to get into the routine of handling physical maintenance in no time at all.
4. Get to Know the Task Manager
If your computer’s running slower than it should, chances are that there are some unnecessary processes or programs running in the background. Most computers come glutted with software that’s not necessarily malicious but will still affect your overall performance. If you’ve ever noticed a pile of unknown icons in your system tray, then you’ve dealt with that clutter before.
The Task Manager allows you to identify all the software running on your computer and see how much memory it’s hogging. Getting comfortable with how the Task Manager works and learning to look up processes you don’t recognize will allow you to improve the speed of your computer dramatically and winnow down the unnecessary software that automatically runs at startup.
5. Protect Yourself From Malware
The people who create viruses and those who protect customers from them are in a constant arms race. Each month brings increasingly more sophisticated threats and professionals looking for a way to combat them. The bottom line is that you need to find a good antivirus program and attempt to always keep it up to date.
Regular updates ensure that new virus protocol is in your program library and you’ll always have the tools to combat them. Fortunately, there is good antivirus software you can get free. Microsoft Security Essentials and Avast Antivirus are worthy of note. But your antivirus platform isn’t the only software to worry about. While software and operating system updates may be a pain, they exist for a reason. Designers often make software updates to patch up potential security issues that hackers and virus creators have discovered. So be sure not to neglect your software updates. Schedule them regularly when you aren’t usually working so you won’t have to keep postponing them and potentially putting your PC at greater risk.
Ashley Wilson is a digital nomad writing about business and tech. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.