Windows Preventive Maintenance Best Practices – CompTIA A+ 220-902 – 1.7

It’s important to keep your Windows operating system running at peak efficiency. In this video, you’ll learn about backups, disk maintenance, Windows updates, and much more.

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By far, a scheduled backup is one of the most important maintenance tasks that you can configure on your computer. It’s very common to configure these to perform once a day, once a week, and in some cases once an hour.

You need to configure what you’d like to back up. Maybe it’s every file that’s on your computer. Maybe just the files that had been changed. Or maybe you’d like to do an entire image of the computer. That way, if you need to completely rebuild this from scratch, you’ve got an exact duplicate of everything that was on that system.

Sometimes, you can provide these backups onsite. But of course, there are a number of offsite options as well. In Windows, for example, you have OneDrive, that’s in the cloud, that can take all of your documents and not only store them locally in your computer, but also store a copy out in the cloud.

We’re usually storing all of our files on some type of permanent storage device on our computer. So it’s important that that device always be working perfectly. We want to avoid any types of hardware failures or warning signs that we might be losing our storage device.

One built-in capability on these storage devices is called SMART. SMART stands for Self-monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology. You can use third-party utilities to look at the SMART statistics on your drive to see how it may be performing over time.

Another thing you can do inside of Windows is to perform both a logical and a physical check of the drive. The logical check will look at the file system and make sure that all of the files appear to be in order. And the physical disk check will go through every sector of the drive and make sure that we’re able to read and write from all parts of the drive itself.

If you’re using a traditional hard drive with spinning platters, then you may want to take advantage of the built-in defragmentation function inside of Windows. Whenever we’re storing files on our hard drive, parts of the file are stored in different places on the drive. So in order to read that file, we now have to revisit all of those different sections of the drive to put the file back together.

If we’re able to defragment that drive, we can take all those different pieces and put them into one contiguous piece. That way, we only have to go to one place on the drive to read the file, which means it will have a much more efficient read and write performance. Obviously, if you’re using an SSD, which is all solid state memory, you won’t need to perform a defragmentation.

You can start to the defragmentation in the Windows user interface by going into the Properties of a local drive. And you will see an Optimize and Defragment Drive option there. At the command line, you can simply type defrag to perform a defragmentation.

You might also want to set up a schedule to perform the defragmentation. You can do this directly from the Optimize Drive dialog under Scheduled Optimization. Or you can go to the Control Panel under Administrative Tools and change this in the Task Scheduler.

Another important best practice for maintenance of your computer is to always keep the operating system up to date. And we do this under the Windows Update section inside the Control Panel. This is going to provide you with security patches for the operating system. It may provide new features of the OS. And if there’s any updates to drivers, this may resolve problems you might have with interfacing with the hardware on your computer.

You can configure the Windows Update to happen all automatically, so all the files are downloaded automatically and installed automatically. If you’d like a little more control, you may choose to only download the files, or to maybe only notify you that files are available to be downloaded. Or you can disable this completely, and it will be up to you to manually setup the update process for your computer.

In environments with many computers, you may not want to have every device automatically install all of the updates. You may want to instead have a well-thought out patch management process. This allows you to manage the update process, because occasionally you run across an update that either doesn’t work properly on your computer, or it may break a feature of the applications that are important for you to use.

And there are so many different operating system patches, application updates, driver updates, that you want to be sure you know exactly what’s being installed on everyone’s workstation. So you may want to setup a process where you’re testing, you’re scheduling the deployment of these updates internally, you finally can implement and make sure they’re running properly. And you may want to have a fallback option as well, in case something doesn’t go well during the deployment.

The device drivers that interface our operating system with our hardware aren’t often updated. But when they are, they can resolve nagging problems that we might have interfacing with our hardware components. You may see some device drivers updated more than others. For example, it’s very common to see video drivers updated very often.

Some drivers are updated automatically through the normal Windows Update process. So if you have Windows Update set to perform all of these updates automatically, you don’t even have to think about it. But you may have to manually download some of these drivers that aren’t managed through Windows Update.

You can always look at Device Driver to see exactly what drivers are installed. And you can drill down on these to find out more information about the specific driver that’s configured in your Windows operating system.

An important maintenance and security update is for your antivirus and your anti-malware software. The bad guys are constantly coming up with new ways to get into our systems, so we want to be sure we have the latest signatures installed on our computer. This will be signatures for your antivirus, your anti-spyware, anti-malware, and any of the other security components that are running in your operating system.

You may want to set this up to occur every day. Or if this is a very important system, you may want to have it happen every hour. This may be a process that’s even automatically configured now, and you don’t even have to think about it. Your system will always have the latest signatures installed in the operating system.