One of the basic realities of owning a computer is that at some point in time, the computer will have a problem. These can include hardware failures such as the hard drive, virus problems, or operating system failures or unsuccessful updates which cause your computer to stop functioning. After the malfunction has been fixed, it may be necessary to set your computer up from the beginning. For this reason, it is important to have the things needed to set your computer up again. The absolute minimum list of things you should keep include:
- The motherboard drivers disc.
- The hardware drivers disc(s) for accessories such as printers, scanners, cameras.
- The software discs for any purchased programs. Many programs no longer come with a box or discs but are distributed as downloads. You should keep a copy of the installation programs and any updates as well as the license keys or unlocking codes required to reinstall these programs if you want to continue using them after a serious computer problem.
Expecting your local computer technician to have copies of everything you need to setup your computer from scratch is not practical. A backup of any personal files which are important to you should also be kept in a safe location. See post on Backing up your data.
If you have these discs and files, even if your computer stops functioning completely, what you had can be recreated within a couple of hours once any hardware failures have been fixed.
Apart from keeping the necessities to get a computer going once again, every computer needs protection from viruses and spyware, as well as regular maintenance of the storage devices and their contents. It is an unfortunate reality of computer ownership these days that there are viruses and spyware attempting to sneak onto unprotected computers through emails and infected websites. Even apple computers (not normally vulnerable to viruses written for windows computers) should have antivirus protection to keep from passing viruses on to people with computers running a version of windows.
Most tuneup software also checks for other maintainance issues, so it is important to chose your tuneup software (and your antivirus software) carefully.