Different Types of Computer System Maintenance
By Alan Hughes
Computer systems are made up of hardware and software that work together to perform a multitude of computing tasks. All of the components of a computer system, including the actual data stored on the system, require periodic maintenance to operate at peak efficiency. Failure to perform maintenance on hardware, software and data will eventually result in slow performance and eventual failure of the system.
Computers are machines, and they require maintenance like any other machine. Technicians run diagnostics on the various components to identify weak or failing circuits, and they clean the interiors of the machine by removing dust or other foreign material. Technicians also update the software built into the computer’s circuitry, called firmware.
Computer hardware is not very useful without software that tells it what to do. In addition to the built-in firmware, a computer needs an operating system, which is a large software program that runs the computer and facilitates running application software. Both operating systems and applications require maintenance in the form of software updates. These updates contain fixes for “bugs” and security updates. Periodic software updates provide stability and security to computer software.
Computer hardware and software combine to provide a platform for storing and retrieving information quickly. After months or years of storing new information, databases become bloated and inefficient. Occasional maintenance on information includes archiving and purging obsolete information and reorganizing the database that houses the information. Database reorganization improves information retrieval time, facilitating higher-end user productivity. The Windows operating system comes with several maintenance programs that improve the efficiency of your computer. Disk Cleanup, Disk Defragmenter, Check Disk are three useful maintenance utilities that will improve the performance of your computer.
Computers operate in a number of different environments, ranging from clean, air-conditioned data centers to a user’s overcrowded cubicle. While desktop computers seem to tolerate less than sterile conditions, failure to provide a clean and cool environment will shorten the life of a personal computer. Mainframes require clean, climate-controlled rooms to operate properly. Dust and heat are the two worst enemies of computing equipment, and providing a clean environment will extend the life of your computer, regardless of the size.
Alan Hughes has more than 30 years of experience in IT including mainframes, programming, client/server, networks, project management, security, disaster recovery, information systems and hardware. He holds a master's degree in applied computer science and several certifications. He currently teaches information technology at the university level.