Security

Year-end walk around for a computer checkup

The last day of the year is a good one for me to walk around the office and check-up on everyone's computer. Here's a list of some of the things I check for.

The last day of the year is a good time for me to walk around the office and check up on everyone's computer. Here's a list of some of the things I check for.

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Since I work for a relatively small company, I'm fortunate to be able to walk around to everyone's office to give their computer a personal checkup — a computer house call, if you will. Most people are out for the last week of the year (I took off Christmas week), and it gives me the opportunity to give their computers a good once-over. For those who are here, they usually don't mind using another computer for the few minutes I spend at theirs.

Here are some of the things I do and/or check for:

1. Clean (blow) them out: I take the computers outside, remove the side access panel, and blow the dust out of the case, out of the fans, etc. In some of my Antec cases, there's also an air filter that slides out from under the front panel that collects a fair amount of dust. It's amazing how much dust accumulates over a year's time. 2. Check the fans: I make sure the case fan(s), the power supply fan, and the processor fan are all in good working order. I'll replace the ones that are frozen or are making too much noise. I keep a few extras on the shelf, but I might have to go buy a few more. 3. Listen to the hard drive: Often times, hard drives make any number of noises before they fail. I'll listen for some unusual whirring or whining or clicking or scratching sounds or just listen to how much work it has to go through to boot up. If something doesn't sound right or if the hard drive doesn't seem to be behaving the way it should, I'll put it on my list for replacement. 4. Archive the e-mail: Unlike most professional offices, I don't host my own mail server, so the only place the user's e-mail resides is on his/her own hard drive. We have an office policy that people should save each individual e-mail as a file in the appropriate project folder should it need to be backed up in a different location, but not many people do this. We've gone over the auto archive options, and I've explained how it can be archived to a location on one of the servers, but many people either don't understand it or simply don't do it. I'm going to review the policy and process for backing up our e-mail files, and it's on my list of things to do for the upcoming year, but in the meantime, I'll at least copy their pst file to a location on a server. If people are around, I'll ask them if they want their documents folder, music folder, or any other personal stuff backed up, but they usually decline. This is about the only time I'll sit at their computers and back up their files. 5. Update Windows: I'll make sure Windows updates are current. When I initially provided the computer, this was set to automatically update on a daily basis (at 3 a.m.), but some people turn it off, instead choosing to be notified of pending updates. Some people are pretty good about following through, others aren't so good about it. So on any computers that are not current, not only will I run the update, but I'll set it again to run automatically. 6. Virus definitions update: The same applies to the virus updates as to the Windows updates. I initially configure it to update daily, but some people turn it off or try to change it. I'll make sure the virus definitions and software are current, and I'll run a complete system scan. 7. Check the virus history: Often times, people will get a virus and let Norton do its thing by placing it in quarantine. I'll check this and delete any files that might be listed. Even though they may be quarantined, I still don't want them around. 8. Check for malware: I'll run a couple of spyware detection tools. I recently polled TR members about their detection tool of choice, so I got some good ideas on a couple of different ones I want to try. 9. Disk cleanup: I'll run the Windows Vista disk clean-up program and possibly browse some known spots for those unnecessary temporary files and such. I'll delete files that I know people simply don't need. 10. Disk defrag: I got rid of the Vista defrag almost from the get-go. Instead, I use free Vista defrag program made by Auslogics. It will probably come as no surprise, but in some cases, this is the only time some users' hard drives are defragmented. 11. Clean: I'll clean the monitor, the mouse, and the keyboard. If the keyboard is especially grungy, I'll either replace it or put it in the dishwasher. (Don't laugh - I recently wrote about it, and it's not that crazy of an idea.)

As a user support professional yourself, do you ever have the opportunity to do a similar checkup? If so, what would you add to the list?

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