OK. So your computer is getting on your very last nerve. It’s slow, it takes forever to boot up, your programs are sluggish, it crashes frequently and for no reason, video and audio playback are slow and seem to “skip”, the internet seems lethargic…. So you say to yourself “Maybe it’s time for a new computer!”
Not so fast. A new computer may not be the only answer to your problems. Your computer may just need some cleaning and optimizing or it may be in need of an upgrade. Most people don’t realize that your computer takes on added duties and responsibilities as you use it or “it grows older.” Every time you load a new program, or surf the web certain files are added to the registry or saved to your computer. The larger the registry gets and the more files that are on your computer directly affect how fast your computer is. There are several things that you can do to clean and/or optimize your machine. Doing this will enhance your performance. Here are some examples of things you can do to “Clean up” your computer. If you are not familiar with these procedures or don’t feel comfortable performing them, call or contact one of the vendors listed at the end of the article and they can do this for you for a very feasible fee.
1. Uninstall unused programs – If you go to your Control Panel and click on the Add/Remove programs icon, a list will come up that shows most of the programs installed on your machine. If you click on the name of a particular program, it will become highlighted and you can then choose to uninstall it. Uninstall anything that you really don’t use… for instance, if you used to use AOL as you internet provider and now have cable or a phone providers internet service, then the AOL program and all of it’s features are no longer needed (unless you prefer using the aol interface instead of using a standalone browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, etc.)
2. Check for and uninstall “stealth” programs– I call them “stealth” programs because a lot of times they are installed unbeknown to the user. For example when you download the free Acrobat Reader from Adobe, there is a little check-mark that is displayed that says “install the free Google Toolbar.” If you don’t carefully read through all the screens, this program is installed even if you may not have particularly wanted it. Many programs that we install from the internet have “add-ons” that may sneak by you if you are not careful…. So check for those and remove them.
3. Delete your Temporary Internet Files– Every single time that you get onto the internet and visit a website, files are saved to your computer. The purpose of these files is to store some of the images and other portions of the page so that when you visit the site again, it loads faster because the files can be pulled from your machine. Periodically, these files should be deleted. Depending on the amount of surfing you do, these files can take up a lot of space and will thus, slow your computer down.
4. Delete unwanted/unneeded files – In order to perform the processes that you ask your computer to perform, it uses three main components; the processor, the memory and the hard drive. The three components work in conjunction to perform any process or function that you ask the computer to perform. Deleting old, outdated, unwanted files from your computer frees up disk space which in turn allows your hard drive to perform better and will allow your computer to perform better.
5. Perform a “defrag” – A “defrag” or disk cleanup goes through the sectors of your hard drive and frees up unused space and streamlines how the files that are on your computer are stored. The hard drive is checked for files that are fragmented (parts of a file in one place and parts in another) and repositions them so that they are streamlined and clustered together. This process allows your hard drive to perform better and will allow your computer to perform better.
6. Run “MsConfig” – Running MsConfig our computer will allow you to determine what programs and features are being started when you boot up your computer. Most times, you will find that not all of the programs that are listed are wanted or needed and, as I mentioned before, every little thing that is run or started when you turn on your computer contributes to the degradation of speed.
Perform these small steps and you will see an improvement in your machines performance. Is it enough to make you want to hang on to that old machine? Well, that’s for you to decide. If so, great! If not, maybe you need to upgrade.