To maintain your systems stability, and to prolong its efficiency, there are some basic steps which you need to carry out. Just like a car, a PC has to be regularly maintained in order to get the best out of it, and it's these maintenance tips which I'll be discussing in this article.
The first thing I'll recommend is that you get a good antivirus and spyware scanner installed on your PC. These software products will ensure that your PC is free from infection, and that your data is safe from harm. Antivirus scanners normally scan files in the background whilst you're using the PC in day to day situations, but it's also recommended to create a schedule, where by the antivirus software performs a full scan of your system at a scheduled interval. Once a week is best, preferably when you're least likely to be doing strenuous work on the PC, or using it at all. I prefer to schedule my scans for every Sunday evening, as at this time I'll normally be relaxing in front of the TV with the family, and won't mind the PC being occupied for a few hours. Likewise, you can also get spyware scanners that scan files in the background, but at the time of writing this article, I hadn't come across a reputable spyware software package that could be run at a scheduled time. Only scans on demand were possible.
The above steps help to protect your data from harm, but another recommended tip is to remove any unwanted junk from the PC. I visit a lot of websites day to day, download a lot of data, and create a lot of content, so produce a lot of data in a very short period of time. Rather than getting overwhelmed with files stored all over the place, I'll do a monthly clear out, where I'll ensure everything is organised correctly, with the correct filename and stored in the correct directory path, but I'll also ensure that anything that is no longer needed is removed from the system. If I'm not 100% sure whether I'll need a document or file in the future, I'll store it in the 'Temporary' folder, which lies on my desktop, and keeps any documentation that I may not need in the long term.
When creating or removing a lot of files frequently, it's a good idea to defrag your hard drive. To defrag a hard drive means to organise the hard drives data, so that the bits of those files data, are all kept together as much as possible. This defragmentation isn't visible to the user, as all files are stored exactly as you see on the system when in use, but at a Operating system level, it sees these files very differently, and having bits and bytes of a file scattered across the hard drive increases the time it takes to save and load information from the file. Defragmentation isn't something that has to be done very frequently, depending on the size of the files you are creating and removing. I personally try to do a complete defrag of my system once a month.
I hope you've found these suggestions useful, and I recommend you put them to use if you haven't done so already.