Computer Maintenance

Simpsons - Comic Book Guy Computer
99% of you will use a computer to make music. I’m going to make the assumption that 95% of you do not perform computer maintenance tasks, nor do you employ any serious kind of file management. This is either because you don’t know how to do this, or because you don’t care. 
Keeping your PC or Mac running smoothly takes very little time and very little knowledge, but it’s the difference between your recording setup working and not working.
I am very often confronted by customers who claim that the equipment they have bought is faulty or does not work with their current configuration. Maybe one in a hundred of these issues is actually a fault with the product they have bought. The rest of the time, they either haven’t installed drivers properly, don’t know how to use the product, or their computer hasn’t had any care or attention since it left the factory two years ago. With a little care and attention (and 20 minutes of my time), everything is working in harmony.

With a Mac, the procedure is very, very simple and generally fixes every issue encountered. With a PC, the process is much more complicated, especially if you like to download lots of free software and hoard it until the end of time.

Providing that the drivers and software programs you are using are up to date, following the steps below will generally fix any issues. If everything isn’t up to date, head to the manufacturers website and download the latest version for your operating system first. If you are using a PC, a restart after installing is recommended, even if you are not prompted to do so.

Before we begin, if your Mac is running Lion, update to Mountain Lion immediately by launching the App Store. It’s only around $30 and you won’t believe the difference. Lion is the worst thing ever invented and should be rid from your system as if it were cancer.

1. You bought a Mac. Therefore, the first step is for me to congratulate you. Congratulations.
2. Go to your Applications folder and find the Utilities folder. 
3. Click on ‘Disk Utility’.
4. From the pane on the left, choose your hard drive.

5. First, click on the Permissions Verify button and sit back.
6. Once it has found a few issues (and it will), click on the Permissions Repair button and sit back.

That’s it. That’s everything you will ever need to do to make sure everything is running OK.

You will notice a disk repair/verify in the same window, but you only need this if you have serious errors with the OS and booting. This is usually not needed unless you’re still clinging on to a very old Mac. In this case, a disk repair is the least of your problems because if Apple find out you’ve been avoiding buying a new Mac, they’ll kill you.

The process for a PC is much more time consuming and more involved, and unfortunately, it doesn’t fix all issues. I won’t go in to the other processes to get a PC running smoothly, because some of them are really only processes that should be attempted by IT pros and if you’re one of these people, you don’t need me to tell you how to do it.

1. Go to your Start menu and choose All Programs>Accessories>System Tools. If you are using Windows 8, I’m not sure where it is.
2. Open System Restore and create a restore point in case you mess everything up.
3. Go to your Control Panel and open the Add/Remove Programs assistant and remove anything you don’t want. You will no doubt find some toolbar add-ons you don’t remember installing.
4. Go back to the System Tools menu and run Disk Cleanup (this could take well over a year to complete).
5. Restart your computer.

A disk defrag is also recommended for machines running older operating systems like XP. Windows 7 & 8 will have utilities that run automatically to keep the disk in order. You can find the disk defrag in the same place as Disk Cleanup.

It’s always worth performing the Windows & Mac optimisations for audio recording if you haven’t already. These can be found here.
Keep in mind that these changes are for audio recording optimisation. If you use the same computer for general tasks such as web browsing and word processing, you may find that your system doesn’t run as well.

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