Computer Maintenance For The Writer

computer and writersby Catherine L. Tully

Every now and then I like to write a post on maintaining your writing instrument–the computer. If you want to have it act right, you need to treat it nice.

Here are some tasks that should be done on a regular basis, along with links with some directions, just in case you don’t know how to perform the task:

Defragment your hard drive. Think of this as “housecleaning”.

Back up your computer. If you don’t have a system for this yet, it’s time. All you have to do is have things crash once to make this oh-so-worthwhile.

Back up your e-mails. Didn’t know you had to do this? If you use Outlook, you need to back up what is called a .pst file, otherwise you are not going to have your e-mails if there is a problem. The server will only archive them for so long, so be sure to do this and then burn to a DVD or back up on other media. It won’t automatically back up when you back up the computer, so do this step too.

File e-mails in folders. This one is pretty self-explanatory, but people don’t do it. Keeping up with your e-mail is key when it comes to running a good freelance writing business. Being able to find an e-mail can mean the difference between looking pro and looking slow.

Clean up. Use anti-static wipes to clean your screen and blow out the keyboard with compressed air.

Take out the trash. Empty your recycle bin.

This is a simple guide for PC users. I’m not a Mac, so if anyone cares to leave a tip or two for Mac users, I wouldn’t complain. ; )

2 thoughts on “Computer Maintenance For The Writer”

  1. I’m a longtime Mac user, though I’ve done my share of troubleshooting on Windows machines for my wife.

    Your point about backing up absolutely applies, as I recounted in a Jake’s Take blog post a while back about a hard-drive crash. If you are a Mac user, the Time Machine is built in, *really* easy to use, and backs up automatically every hour. If you haven’t already done so, ante up the $100 for a good usb hard drive and do it. The nice thing is that you can “revisit” your files and emails at various points in time going back 3 years. I’ve used it many times to recover old emails that I deleted.

    I also have a account that backs up daily to “the cloud,” just in case I had a simultaneous catastrophe in my computer and separate hard drive. (House fire, earthquake, theft.) I’ve also heard good things about Carbonite and some of the other services — the point is, you need to do something, and even better to have dual backups.

  2. Thanks Jake! I knew there’d be a Mac person out there somewhere! 🙂
    Sounds like you have a pretty good plan in place–you’re prepared! Hopefully you won’t ever need any of it!

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