PCs can age extraordinarily quickly if neglected. And if you’re anything like me you’re probably too busy to provide the care and attention needed to keep it running smoothly.
At the ripe old age of one, my laptop is no longer the nippy machine it used to be, so last night I decided to spend a couple hours giving it some TLC.
The results were immediate, and far better than I had hoped. So, instead of recycling your computer, here’s a quick, simple guide to sprucing up an old Windows PC.
Windows has a handy tool called Disk Cleanup, which will root around your computer’s hard drive and point out things that could be deleted. For tech novices, or those in a rush, it will flag up areas like your internet temporary files, which if left unchecked can start to clog up your computer’s memory.
The application can be found under System Tools (which can be found in the Accessories folder). After a quick scan, Windows will provide suggestions as to what can be deleted to clear space. The tool won’t flag anything up that’s vital to your PC’s performance, so there’s no risk of making matters worse.
Getting rid of your computer’s flotsam and jetsam like this every few months could make a noticeable difference depending on the state of your computer.
When a file is created it occupies a specific physical position on your computer’s hard drive. Any changes to that at a later date – let’s say you update your CV – are then saved at another point on the drive.
Accessing both to open the latest version of your document takes longer than if they were positioned together. This is known as disk fragmentation.
Fortunately this is easily solved. Windows’ Disk Defragmenter will reorganise all the data on your drives so that in future your computer will get to them as quickly as possible. Again this tool can be found in the System Tools folder and is easy to use.
Spyware hides in the background of your computer harvesting valuable information on your usage, before sending it off to some seedy hacker in the Philippines. At their worst, they can mine personal information which can be used in credit card fraud and at the very least they will slow up your PC and its internet connection.
Lavasoft provides the best protection with their Ad-Aware software, which can be downloaded for free. If you’d rather not bother with that, Microsoft provides their own online scan that will service your PC free of charge.
Desktop PCs harbour mountains of dust, which is of course a great insulator. If your computer’s circuitry overheats it can slow up and even be permanently damaged.
Firing some canned air at your computer’s air vents, is a quick way to clear some of that hard-to-reach dirt without having to open up your case, and risk voiding your warranty.