Is your old computer starting to send you signals that its demise is imminent? It can be so frustrating when you can’t open a particular program, when your operating system slows to a snail’s pace or when your hard drive crashes. But rather than assigning it to the trash heap and suffering the expense of purchasing a new one, you might want to consider some ways to give it “life support” and keep it running longer and faster.
For the average “non-techie” person, here are some easy ways to increase the speed and efficiency of your older computer:
#1 Get Rid of Unnecessary Programs
Over time, older computers acquire many software programs that are unused but never discarded. This accumulation causes problems like using up your memory and taking up a lot of your hard drive space. To keep an older computer running more efficiently, the best fix is to remove all the unnecessary software. In Windows, go to “Add/Remove Programs” in your Control Panel. Then, uninstall the software that you are not using or do not need. A word of caution here: be careful to not uninstall the programs you computer needs. One way to avoid this is to note that the publisher of the necessary programs will be the PC makers name or as Microsoft. If in doubt, check with your computer repair person, or try a company like PC Decrapifier (the name says it all!), which is free for non-commercial use.
#2 Delete Temporary Files
Temporary files will pile up on your computer through your normal everyday use. These files remain on your hard drive, and over time will slow down your computer. Delete these unused files, which include internet history and cookies, by opening “My Computer”, select your C drive (C:/), select Windows folder and open the “Temp” folder. Right click on this folder, select all the older files and press delete. Then, go to your Recycle Bin and empty it. Getting rid of this “dead weight” will help your computer to run faster.
#3 Do a Disc Defragment
To do this, go to “My Computer”, right click on the hard drive, go to “Properties”, click on the “Tools” Tab and select the option to “Defragment Now”. This will cause your hard drive to work more efficiently in the way it stores information.
#4 Secure Your Computer
The newer versions of Windows receive regular security updates from Microsoft. However, older versions no longer receive these updates, and this makes them more susceptible to threats from the internet. All computers must be kept free of viruses and malware, but malicious software is a greater threat to older ones. To secure older computers, there are several antivirus, anti-malware and firewall programs that you can use to protect you. Other ways to keep from being exposed to internet attacks are changing your browser from Internet Explorer to Chrome or Firefox, and changing your e-mail from Microsoft Outlook (which is more susceptible to threats) to an e-mail server like Thunderbird.
#5 Proper Maintenance of Your Computer
Regular maintenance is an important part of extending the life of your computer. Here are a few recommendations:
- Shut down your computer several times a week or every day, if possible.
- Uninstall programs you do not need or no longer use.
- Install updates from the software vendor as soon as they are available.
- Do regular virus and spyware checks and cleanups.
- Delete large files such as movies, music and images that you no longer need.
#6 Back Up Your Files
Because your older computer may have more failures than newer ones, it is important to back up your files on a regular basis. You can either use an external drive to copy your files or use an online service that will back up your files for you.
#7 Protect Your Hardware
The hardware on an older computer can wear out and simply just break. It can become bent, cracked or burnt out. The most common things that break on an older computer are the fans, hard drive and the optical drive. There are a few preventative measures, however, that you can take to help your hard drive running longer:
- Keep your computer and the area around it clean. On a yearly basis, open your computer’s case and vacuum out or blow out any dust with compressed air.
- Prevent power surges from damaging your computer by using a surge protector.
#8 Replace or Upgrade Your Hardware
Short of replacing an aging computer, some cost-effective ways to extend its life and improve its performance would be to do upgrades on the RAM and hard drive. For those without technical expertise in this area, you can consult your local computer repair company to determine if upgrading or replacing hardware would be a viable alternative to replacing the computer.
#9 Consider How You Plan to Use Your Older Computer
If you only use your computer for email, creating documents or social media, your older computer should serve you well. However, if you intend to work with video/audio and other professional work involving the use of images, you might want to consider purchasing a new computer.
#10 Take Your Computer To SofTech of Prescott, AZ
SofTech Computers of Prescott specializes in both PCs and Macs, including:
- Computer Tune-Up
- Virus Removal
- Data Backup
- Software Installation
Call SofTech Computers, located in downtown Prescott, at: 928-443-8770
NOTE: To maintain and optimize the performance of a OS X Mac Computer, there are programs like MacKeeper that will do this for you. Also see an article on www.cnet.com , entitled “How to Keep Your Mac Running in Tip-top Shape."