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Step 1. 
Run an anti-virus program, preferably the free version of Avast.

Step 2.  Run CCleaner once a day to clean your system of unused files.

Step 3.  Run Malwarebytes once a week to clean your system of spyware.

Step 4.  Run Disk Defragmenter once a month to clean up your hard drive.

Step 5.  Back up your music, photos, documents, favorites, and address book.

Avast, CCleaner, and Malwarebytes are FREE programs.  Follow directions below.

Directions for installing and registering Avast can be found here: 

Directions for installing and running CCleaner can be found here:

Directions for installing and running Malwarebytes can be found here: 

Disk Defragmenter comes with your computer and can be found by clicking Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Disk Defragmenter.  With this program open, highlight the C: drive and click on the Defragment Button. 

You should have your defragmenter Icon placed on your desktop so it's easy to get to each month.  Navigate to it as outlined above, right click on Disk Defragmenter, click on "Send To" then choose Desktop. 

In Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 you can schedule defragmentation to automatically take place once a month, but make sure your computer is turned on at the specified time, otherwise do it manually. Do this operation manually on a laptop because you shouldn't leave it on 24/7.

Use caution when installing any program to insure that you only install the intended program and not third party add-ons. (Piggy Back Installations)  Example: Toolbars or Google Chrome.

Make sure your Favorites, Address Book, Photos, Music, and Documents are backed up to an external source!  If you purchase an external hard drive and back-up software was not included you may try this free backup which I have used successfully. 

Without specialized back-up software, the simplest way to secure your data files, music and photos is to right click on "My Documents" and choose Copy.  Now click Start, Open My Computer, right click on your external source (external hard drive or flash drive) and choose Paste.  The time it takes will depend on how many files you have to back up.

Favorites and address book require a different procedure.  To back up your favorites in Microsoft's Internet Explorer, click on File then on Import and Export.  Click "Export to a File" then click Next. Click Favorites then click Next twice.  In the window asking you "Where do you want to export your favorites" click the Browse button, navigate to your external drive, highlight it and click Save. Now click the Export button then Finish.

If you use Outlook Express as your mail client the following procedure may be used to back up your address book.  Open the address book, click on File, Export, Address Book (WAB).  In the "File name" window type in "Address Book" and today's date.  Open the "Save In" window, click on your external drive then click the "Save" button.

If you ever lost your Favorites, or Address Book it's a simple procedure to restore.  Just click File then Import and follow the reverse procedure.

Once a year you should remove the side from your computer and clean the dust and debris from the inside. The worst enemy of electronic devices is heat, and dust will increase the amount of heat which will shorten the life of your machine.   Use a can of compressed air for this project and be sure to spray all the fans.  Also spray the connections on the back of the computer, and connectors and plugs on the front.  Here is a photo of a typical computer that has been neglected.