6 ways to protect your PC from disaster and keep it running

Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best

Disaster can strike at any time and there are so many things that can go wrong with your PC is surprising we don’t lose stuff more often. Are you prepared for the worst? Here is what you need to do.

Protect your windows PC from disaster with these top tips

1 Back up your files

Having a backup of your files is one of the best ways to protect against disaster. If the disk crashes, or if files on the disk are corrupted or deleted, they can be restored from the backup.

Not everyone makes backups though and this is perhaps because it is difficult, complicated or it costs money. It doesn’t need to be hard and there are several easy backup programs that are free.

Examples are AOMEI Backupper, Jumping Bytes Software PureSyncParagon Software Backup & Recover 14 and EaseUS Todo Backup Free.

Backupper Standard free Windows backup utility

There are, if course, backup facilities in Windows and you don't need extra software for file backups (third party backup software is better for whole disk image though).

Open the Control Panel in Windows 10 and 8.1 and click File History. Turn it on and select a USB disk drive. It automatically keeps backups of the files in Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos - the the most important folders.

Just set it and forget it. Backups are made every hour.

2 Look after the battery

Many people that have a laptop computer ask what they should do with the battery if they mainly use it with the mains power. Should you remove it, leave it in, charge it up, run it down? What is best?

The best advice is to use it as much as possible. With most things, the more you use them the faster they wear out, but the opposite is true with batteries. Use them a lot and they last for many years, but if you don’t use it, it will stop working after a year or so.

Charge up the battery by using the laptop when it is connected to the mains power. Then unplug it and use it for an hour or two. Do this once or twice a week to keep the battery in good condition.

Make the battery last longer with these tips.

3 Create a boot disc or boot USB stick

One day your computer might not start. Are you prepared? While your PC is working fine, you should download a copy of Windows and burn it to a DVD or create a bootable USB flash drive.

This is useful in two ways. One is for reinstalling Windows and if disaster strikes and the PC will not start, reinstalling Windows can get it working again. Do not format the disk. Select the option to keep your files.

The other use is to access the repair tools. Boot up from a DVD or USB stick and there is an option to install Windows. At the bottom of the screen is an option to repair it instead. Try this before reinstalling Windows. It enables you to use System Restore to put back the system the way it was when it was working.

Download Windows 10, 8.1 and 7 from the Microsoft website. There is a handy media creation tool for Windows 10 and this creates the DVD or bootable USB stick.

Older versions of Windows are on the menu at the top of the page. You need your Windows Product key, which is often on a sticker on the bottom of the PC’s case.

4 Run software in VirtualBox

Installing software is one of the most dangerous things you can do. It might be badly written and have bugs, it might contain adware, spyware other malware, or it might clash with the drivers on your PC. Anything can happen.

Play safe and run software in VirtualBox. It can be thoroughly tested in a secure and safe environment that is isolated from the rest of the PC. If there is something wrong with it, it will not affect your PC, but if it turns out to be OK, it can be installed for real.

Get VirtualBox and then download Windows for free and run it in a virtual machine. If you are having performance problems, the solutions are here.

Free Windows virtual machine

5 Stop the PC overheating

Heat is a killer of electrical components and when too much builds up inside a computer, many components can fail. Make sure there is plenty of space around the computer when it is being used. It needs air to keep cool.

When charging a laptop computer, make sure there is plenty of air around it. It will get quite warm and it needs to get rid of the heat. Do not put it under anything, like a sofa or bed, and don’t put anything on top of it.

6 Create a second admin account

If you are the only user of your computer, you probably have just one account set up. Is this wise though? Suppose something goes wrong with your account, such as an essential file is corrupted. You might not be able to log in to Windows.

Add a new user account in Windows 10

Create a second user account in Windows and make it an administrator. If you cannot log in to your account, you have a backup you can log into.

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