Maintenance: How to keep your rig performing like new (or as close to it)
AIR-COOLED AND AIO SYSTEMS ONLY.
I have zero experience with water-cooled systems.
Also, do not hesitate to provide feedback and inform me of corrections to be made to the guide. Let's make it as accurate as possible.
Hi! I'm new to PC Building, having only ever built one PC in my lifetime, so I got curious about knowing what I should do for maintenance of my fancy-ass 1050Ti and Ryzen 5-1600 powered 8GB system! I looked it up here, and there's a bunch of posts but I couldn't really find a central guide for it. So I thought I'd make one, with links to all relevant pages/or comments from other posts, or even other posts directly. This is mainly for my own convenience in future, but also hopefully it might answer most, if not all, questions for maintenance.
The guide will be structured as follows:
- Hardware (which includes subtopics as MoBo, GPU, RAM, Case, etc.)
- General Tips
will be bolded and Subtopics
will be italicized. Time interval for performing that specific maintenance procedure will be written below the text box as a quote. With that out of the way, let's get started with...
I've decided to cordon off OS as a separate section apart from Software, as it has many subcategories of it's own. Hardware
General - Dusting your PC regularly can ensure that your temperatures remain low for all components, as well as reduce the chances of your fans clogging up. On average, you should be expected to do this around once or twice a year. In no way however does dust potentially short your components. According to this post on Stack Exchange, unless in very specific conditions, generally the biggest damage dust can do is cause an overheat. Please keep in mind however, if you have pets close by, smoke, or vape (which can attach to dust and make it potentially conductive, thereby shorting, one of the specific conditions I mentioned earlier), you may want to clean it more frequently. For AIO Systems, dust the radiator. (Thanks mmosarecool !)
Dusting can be completed with a can of compressed air, and ensure that your case fans do not spin when dusting them.
"Maintenance isn’t so bad if you keep up with it. I vape inside my rec room and it gets dusty often. I clean out my pc and peripherals once a month. Keyboards can gather so much dust; I even found my ball for my nose piercing one time." - Felicats
6-12 months once, more if dusty room/pets/smoke/vape Processor - The processor is arguably the brain of the computer, and it is vital that you ensure it's kept running cool. Besides dusting, there's also the thermal paste to be aware of. A good rule of thumb is to monitor your CPU's temperatures to see if it's overheating. If it is, and you can be sure that it's not because your CPU cooler is defective/malfunctioning, then reapplying thermal paste is a good idea. A good utility for this would be Core Temp. I'd suggest after first boot to take note of the temps you're getting after an average use session (gaming/editing/browsing/etc) and see if it changes after about 3-6 months. You can also compare your temperatures with that of others on the net, but bear in mind ambient temperature can raise or lower the temperatures. And of course, reapply your thermal paste if you remove your cooler. Bear in mind once again you may be getting higher temperatures due to a faulty/unplugged fan, so check that before blaming the paste, as it's meant to last a good long while. (Thanks, mmosarecool !)(Again!)
To reapply thermal paste, remove your CPU cooler, dab some 91% Isopropyl Alcohol on a coffee filter paper, and clean the surface of both your processor and your CPU cooler until there's no trace of the thermal paste left. Then reapply your thermal paste in whatever manner you're familiar with, reassemble the cooler, and you're done.
To be done when CPU Temperatures are high or you experience thermal throttling. Use Core Temp to monitor temps. GPU - In general, there's not much maintenance to do for the GPU besides your usual dusting. There can be something done on the driver side, but that will be covered later in this guide.
Refer to General RAM - Same as GPU
Refer to General PSU - General cleaning also applies to the PSU
Refer to General OS
Registry - Most importantly, do NOT use Registry Cleaners and CCleaner or apps like those. The Windows Registry is extremely sensitive to modification, and blindly deleting what a registry cleaner tells you to may cause irreparable or hard to repair damage to your system. Seriously, don't use a registry cleaner. Besides, it's not like the days of yore when Windows' registry was not as optimised as it was today. This is one area you should leave as is.
DON'T Temp/Junk files - Feel free to delete these at will. It's Completely safe. You can use Windows' Built in Disk Cleanup utility or navigate to the temp folder by hitting Win+R to open the "Run" window and typing in "%temp%" without quotes, then selecting all the files and deleting it. Check it here. You can also use BleachBit to clear up other junk, like browser caches and things like that. (Thanks mmosarecool !)
Every few months or so, especially if you're noticing you're running out of space Defragmenting - Check this Lifehacker post for further explanation, but basically on a HDD, sometimes data can be written to separate sections of the drive, splitting it up and causing the time taken to read the data to be even longer. Defragmenting repositions the data blocks to be closer to each other, improving read times. Windows generally takes care of this automatically, but you can get it to do it anytime by going to (On Windows 10) Start and searching "Defrag". The Defragment and Optimize Drives utility should open up, then hit Optimize. you can also modify the frequency at which Windows does the optimization automatically. Please note, if you use an SSD, it's generally a bad idea to defragment, as the way it stores and reads data is different from a HDD.
"Since Windows 8 on, the OS won't even let you defragment SSDs, hence why it says "optimize". It just runs a TRIM command instead." - redrubberpenguin
Done automatically, but feel free to do so once in awhile Scheduled OS Backups - Look, things can go wrong, so why not take a precaution? Set up a scheduled OS partition backup using software recommended by MikeyFlipped (Thanks!), which is Veeam and always have peace of mind should anything ever happen to your OS. EncoreBlade also recommends Macrium Reflect Free and according to him, "It works very similarly to macOS Time Machine software."
Antivirus - A great way to feel secure, there's plenty of legitimate and free antivirus to install to keep your PC clean. In fact, Windows comes with Windows Defender pre-installed, and it's a far cry from how ineffective it was in the past. If you're still worried, BitDefender is a good alternative. After the first install, it should run automatically in the background and keep you safe.
Startup - Open your Task Manager and you should see a tab called startup. Click on it and you should see a list of programs. These are all applications that can run on startup. Generally, game clients like Steam and Antivirus Software would be here. Reducing the number of startup apps will actually have a noticeable improvement on boot times, especially on a HDD. As a general rule of thumb, software like NVidia or AMD driver software and Logitech Software or Razer Synapse can be left to run on startup, as well as AV Software. On my own PC, I only have three startup apps, SoundSwitch, Logitech Gaming Framework, and ObjectDock. Everything else like Discord and Steam I run manually.
Drivers - This is mainly focused on GPU drivers because, well, yeah. Apps like GeForce Experience can keep the drivers up to date but still require your go ahead to install them. You can also download them manually from their website. Once in awhile, it may be a good idea to do a thorough cleaning and uninstall of your drivers. This can be done with Wagnard's Display Driver Uninstaller. It handles everything automatically, and recommends booting into Safe Mode to do a proper job. This is not extremely necessary however, unless you are facing problems related to drivers, which you should only diagnose if your symptoms are similar to those someone else is experiencing and the cause is verified to be drivers.
For other drivers, let Windows handle it.
Check for GPU Driver Updates at least once a month on the official website of your GPU brand to stay up to date. Please also bear in mind, occasionally the latest drivers may cause issues with game performance, and sticking with a slightly older driver may actually provide better performance, as was the case with Monster Hunter World.
Check monthly for updates to driver software General Tips
Keep data you want to keep on your non-OS drive - zeropaladn
If you think there is something wrong in the Windows open Command Prompt and write "sfc /scannow", without quotes. It will scan your protected system files and replace them with a cached copy - freakingcold
Along with "use sfc /scannow" I would also add do the "chkdsk C: /r" command to scan and (hopefully) fix hard drive issues. - The-Toon
Don't keep your PC on the carpet or carpeted floor to avoid dust bunnies in your case. Ensure your case fans don't pull air from the bottom. - Orfez
"If you're not keen on dusting inside your PC every 6 months or are in a really dusty environment, invest in some fan filters. After adding filters I went from needing to dust every 6 months to once every year - year and a half. I could probably get a way with every 2 years." - Kyvalmaezar
If you'd like to know about GPU thermal paste replacement, check out this guide by LTT on how to do it. I did not include it in the main body of the guide as it's rarely brought up as compared to CPU Thermal Paste Replacement however, but if you feel your card is getting too hot and you've already dusted it and checked the drivers, this might be what you have to do. Thanks theWinterDojer ! (BTW, he's got a great guide of his own as well! Check it out here!
"On the subject of startup programs, the other place not to forget about is Task Scheduler. This is usually where things like Google Updates and nVidia Telemetry tasks are run at startup. Again, this might be fine for most people, but if you really want the fastest startups then possibly worth considering disabling some of those too." - 88JM
"I would add that it may be a good idea to clean "old windows installations" with disk cleanup. I've seen 40+GB of files just sitting on the OS drive from system updates." - AlbinoPanther5
"You should always read line by line what you're choosing for those apps to clean. If you're like me and you have your browser set to reopen your tabs from last time, do not allow it to clean "Session", or you will lose all those tabs. Might be 3, might be 30." - Computermaster
Credits (if not mentioned above)
Kryzm for suggesting changing to coffee filter paper in Processor
SolidBladez for pointing me to the original source for DDU. Link in the post has been changed accordingly.
And that's it! If you ever need to refer to PC Maintenance, I hope this guide will help you. Perhaps in future I'll add a custom loop maintenance section once I have someone willing to help me with it, but this should be enough to get you started on an air-cooled/AIO system.
MAJOR EDITS Such as content removal or entire new sections done after posting
Removed the statement that quoted people saying to change it every 6-12 months as nobody seemed to see the actual recommendation, which is to change it only when facing temperature issues not caused by a faulty cooler.
submitted by Jass1995
Windows 10 proxies have been changed and locked
I stumbled upon an exe when I was checking to see why I was lagging and noticed that all of my connections were being routed through it plus stopping it just caused 403 errors since it was now the proxy
It’s also prevented me from changing the proxy settings so I can’t fix it from inetcpl.cpl, recommendations? currently downloading adwcleaner and ccleaner.
EDIT: I've solved my proxy being changed by altering the registery and I've removed the program causing it but I'm still unable to access the LAN settings gui from inetcpl, can't find anything in the policies or registery that would be preventing it
EDIT 2: I fixed it finally, https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-networking-winpc/removing-a-proxy-virus-1270018080/ccf3081a-e282-4796-b1b6-770bf5c39c1a
This specifically is what solved my issue; Find the keys in registry with the following names in the folders mentioned below. Proxyenable-------------change value to 0, Proxyoverride, Proxyserver--------------delete Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings Computer\HKEY_USERS.DEFAULT\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-18\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings Computer\HKEY_USERS\S-1-5-21-3996546682-3735944086-698702116-1001\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings
Proxysettingsperuser------------change value to 1 Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings
connection settings------------change value to 0 Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel
submitted by T2142