When you are running a small business, you may not have the time or the knowledge to keep your computers running smoothly. This benign neglect leads to slow performance and crashes. Your machines require regular security patches and updates to antivirus software as well as regular scans for malware. If you and your employees are using outdated browsers, this is also a source of trouble.

The upside to these potential problems is that you do not have to be an expert to avoid them. You just need to be observant and willing to do a little maintenance now and then. The following tips will help.

Keep Windows Updated

Microsoft regularly releases updates to its Windows operating system. Many of these are critical security patches that protect your machines from being compromised. The update feature is easy to use, and you can schedule it to run automatically each day. Hackers are always looking for outdated systems. Do not make it easy for them.

Keep Antivirus Programs Updated

One of the best defenses for your computers is up-to-date antivirus programs. Windows 10 provides Defender, a one-stop security solution that updates daily. At one glance, you can easily see where your machines are protected and where they are vulnerable. You should also consider a second antivirus program to run in the background and catch whatever Windows Defender misses. Kaspersky, Norton, Avast and Malwarebytes are quality choices.

Patch Utilities and Applications

Once you have basic system security taken care of, you need to focus on the programs each computer is running. These will require periodic updates for both security and efficiency, especially communication and productivity tools. Keeping programs up to date not only makes them safer but also allows you to benefit from faster start up and running times and new features.

Remove Unneeded Files and Applications

Over time, Windows machines accumulate temporary files that clutter and slow the system down. Even programs that you have removed can leave pieces behind that add to the bloat. Using a program like CCleaner will delete unneeded files and directories, leaving the registry more organized and less prone to slowness, freezing and other issues. In addition, you should remove all programs that you and your employees do not use.

Be Mindful of Installations

When installing applications, be alert to any extra programs that may be included with it. For example, Adobe adds McAfee security software to all of its downloads unless the user unchecks the boxes. While McAfee is not harmful, it may cause conflicts with antivirus programs you already have running. In other cases, the extra payload is not always friendly and may cause harm to the computers or open up backdoors for hacking. Always pay close attention to what you are installing.

Defrag the Hard Drives

If your computers have hard disk drives, regular defragging is a requirement. This is because pieces of programs can become scattered over the drive, causing it to work less efficiently and slow the entire system down. Tools like Defraggler will reorganize your drives and put everything back into the proper order. It should be noted that if your computers have solid-state drives (SSDs), you should not defrag them as this will cause them to wear out faster.

Keeping your work computers in optimal working condition is not difficult. By paying close attention and using the tips above, your machines will run well now and into the future.

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