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Determining When to Perform Maintenance
Some types of preventive maintenance need to be performed more often than others. The frequency of preventive maintenance depends on the nature of the activity; some things just need to be addressed more often than others. It also depends a lot on what your PC is being used for.
The interval for preventive maintenance on PCs can be determined based on elapsed time or on usage metrics. This is similar to how your car's oil and filter should be changed "every 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first". PC maintenance activities are usually specified as time-based, because this is easier (a PC has no odometer) but they should be performed more frequently depending on prevailing conditions. A PC used on the manufacturing floor of a steel mill needs to be cleaned more often than one being used in a hospital. A disk that is doing heavy Internet file transfers needs virus checking much more often than one that is used standalone and has no modem or floppy disk.
One enemy of preventive maintenance is simply remembering to do. It's one thing to say "I will clean the read/write heads on my floppy disk every six months", and even to mean it. But how will you remember when the six months are up? One way to address this problem is through the use of a preventive maintenance schedule, which will remind you of when do perform key maintenance activities on your PC. Some software preventive maintenance activities can also be automated.
See this section for a sample preventive maintenance schedule that discusses various maintenance activities and suggests some timing guidelines for performing them.