They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is especially true when it comes to computer maintenance. Here are five simple ways to keep your system running smoothly:

1. Use Antivirus Protection

To keep your computer safe, you need protection against malicious software. You should use both antivirus and anti-spyware programs. Make sure that both programs are kept up to date.

These anti-malware programs can help you avoid many of the headaches that plague computer users. Maintaining your subscriptions to these services is important, so be sure to make note of any renewal dates.

2. Back up Your Files

Frequently backing up your files is a good way to make sure that you don’t lose anything vital if your hard drive gets damaged.

Be sure to periodically back up important files to a flash drive or external hard drive. You can also use a cloud-based service to back up your files. There are several companies out there that provide in-house, off-site, and cloud-based options for data backup.

3. Defragment Your Hard Drive

Another task that must be done on a regular basis is defragmenting your hard drive. Defragmentation rearranges files that are saved on the hard drive so that they are stored in contiguous locations. This lowers the amount of time it takes to access your files.

Windows’s built-in Disk Defragmenter tool can help you with this. Before starting the defragmentation process, make sure to turn off any programs that are running in the background. The process will take much more time if you don’t shut down these programs first.

4. Perform a System Restore

If your system starts acting strangely, you can always restore the system from a point in time at which everything was running properly. Restoring the system lets you undo any negative changes that you may have made. A system restore will not affect personal files like your documents and photos.

Windows has a system in place for regularly creating restore points on your computer, but you can create a restore point manually if you want. To use the System Restore tool, just search for “System Restore” by using Windows’s search function.

5. Reformat Your Hard Drive

If your computer is still not working properly after a system restore, you may need to reformat the hard drive. This will remove everything from your computer. You will then need to reinstall Windows and all of the other programs that you are using.

Reformatting your hard drive erases everything that is stored there. This lets you remove any hidden problems. However, it will also delete all of your data, so be sure to back up your files beforehand.