help@spu.edu | 206-281-2982
All computers need regular maintenance to keep them running effectively as well as ensure the security of your system. While modern operating systems do many maintenance tasks automatically, there are still additional tasks that need to be performed on a regular basis. These tasks include:
  • Patching security holes (Windows Update)
  • Updating virus spyware definitions
  • Running spyware cleaning programs
  • Cleanup system files
  • Defragment hard drives
With an established maintenance routine your Windows installation will run more reliably. We recommend performing these steps at least once per month, more often if you are a heavy user.
How To:
Update Windows
  1. Verify you have an active Internet connection
  2. Select 'Windows Update' or 'Microsoft Update' from the top of the 'Start Menu' (or go to Microsoft Windows Update web site)
  3. An Internet Explorer window will open displaying the Update website.
  4. Click the 'Express' button and your computer will begin scanning for required updates
  5. When scanning is finished, the software will begin downloading and installing all required critical updates
  6. After installation you computer may need to be restarted. If so, you will be prompted to do so.

Note: Most computers are set to automatically receive and install updates.


Update and Run an Anti-Virus Scan using Microsoft Security Essentials
  1. Download and install Microsoft Security Essentials
  2. Ensure that virus defintions are up-to-date.
  3. Scan your system for viruses and spyware.
  4. Review the scan results for any known viruses. You can generally choose Clean Computer or Remove for most viruses.

Note: Some particularly nasty infestations will not be removed automatically. In these situations we recommend you call a computer repair professional.


Run A Spyware Sweep using Lavasoft's Ad-Aware (you can also use Microsoft Windows Defender) as an alternate choice, although the instructions will vary slightly)

  1. Open your Start menu and click Start->All Programs->Lavasoft Ad-Aware SE Personal->Ad-Aware SE Personal
  2. Click 'Check for Updates Now'
  3. If updates are found choose 'Download Update'
  4. To run the scan click the Start button in the lower right corner of the AdAware window
  5. Click the 'Full System Scan' radio button and click 'Next' to begin scanning.
  6. After scanning completes, a list found malicious items will be displayed.
  7. Right-click one of the items and choose 'Select All'
  8. Click 'Next' to remove the found items. When this completes you may exit the program

Note: Some particularly nasty infestations will not be removed automatically. In these situations we recommend you call a computer repair professional.


Cleanup System Files
  1. Open your Start menu and click Start->All Program->Accessories->System Tools->Disk Cleanup
  2. Select the drive you wish to clean; usually this is the C: drive.
  3. The program will scan the disk for cleanable items. This could take several minutes.
  4. Select all checkboxes
  5. Click OK to remove the checked items.
Defragment Your Hard Disk
  1. Open your Start menu and click Start->All Program->Accessories->System Tools-> Disk Defragmenter
  2. Click the 'Defragment' button
  3. The defragmentation process can take several hours to complete. Also, the programs requires at least 15% of your drive to be unused to run.
Common Problems:

My Computer Is Running Slow
Computers begin to run slow when the amount of available resources is less than Windows requires. This can be caused by spyware, viruses, too many programs running (especially in the task bar), failing hardware, or not enough hard disk space or computer memory (RAM). Performing a Spyware sweep as well as a manual virus scan can eliminate some of the problems that are causing the slowness.

You should also check to be sure multiple anti-virus software programs are not installed. Installing both Norton and McAfee will result in files being scanned twice on access, bringing the system to a crawl.

If these steps do not solve the slowness you are experiencing you should contact a local repair vendor.

See Also:
Software Distribution (update software applications on your computer)
Buy or Repairs (need a new hard drive or more RAM? look here for vendor information)