PC running a little slow? Laptop on its last legs? Computers, like all tech, can lead to frustration when they don’t run as smoothly as we like. But we, as users, need to care for our tech as if they were our own flesh and blood.
Extend the life expectancy of your PC with some solid (and mainly cost-free) maintenance practices.
Run Anti-Virus Software
Most anti-virus programmes will run a check of your system periodically. As annoying as this can be, potentially causing your PC to slow as it undergoes its check, the drawbacks of infection are markedly worse.
Viruses cause extreme slowdown to your PC. Not only that, but unwanted visitors such as malware, spyware and Trojan horses can monitor your activity and collect potentially compromising information about you. Defend against invasive threats with anti-virus software, and regularly scan for and remove unwanted software.
Defrag Hard Drive
Another simple task you can undertake for a speed boost to your system is defragmenting your hard drive. Whenever a PC saves a large file to its hard drive, it breaks it down into smaller pieces and stores them in a number of different locations across the component.
Large amounts of data lead to a decrease in performance of your PC. Defragging your PC’s hard drive reorganises this data into a more logical fashion, making it more accessible to you and improving your PC’s performance.
Windows has it own defragmenter built in, aptly named ‘Disk Defragmenter’. One final note, you may need to bring a crossword along, as the process is time consuming (depending on the hard drive size and number of files).
One final final note: SSDs do not require disk fragmentation- HDDs only.
Update Software and Drivers
Your PC runs a lot of different software. To keep everything running as well as the developers intended, its best to keep checking back for updates. Software such as anti-virus programmes and even Operating Systems themselves will release a constant stream of updates. These will often contain code for plugging security flaws, fixing glitches in the system and generally improving the quality of that product.
Similarly, updating your drivers (programmes that allow software to communicate with hardware) can provide a similar service to software updates, whilst also giving you a handy speed boost- particularly if you haven’t updated your drivers since purchasing a new system.
Again, the Windows OS has its own platform for software updates (“Windows Update”), where you can install the latest recommended updates.
Clean up Temporary Files
The PC can be a messy animal. Temporary files are littered around your hard drive, creating clutter and just generally causing slowdown . Thankfully, there are programmes out there that will sweep up these files and banish them from your storage. Common areas of clutter include your web browser history, cookies and internet cache. They may only be a collection of small bits and pieces, but every little helps.
For a general brush up of your hard drive’s files, CCleaner is probably the best out there.
Repair your Hard Disk
Further diagnostics can be run on your machine in order to get it running like a well-oiled machine. Another helpful tool is error-checking your hard disk. Problems can be highlighted within the storage unit that cause the device to slow down.
In Windows, the hard disk error-check can be found in the same tab as defragmentation. Find it by right clicking on the chosen hard disk (likely to be C:), clicking properties and moving to the tab named ‘tools’. From there, you can also programme the system to automatically fix any file errors they happen to find whilst churning through the repair.
Backup your Files
Sometimes, you just can’t account for a bit of bad luck. Spills and drops. Electrical faults. Deleting files by accident. It happens to the best of us. It may not directly boost your PC in terms of outright performance, but when your important data is at risk, backing up pays. You may just be thanking your lucky stars one day.
There are a number of options out there for replicating the files in your hard drive. Windows have an on board back up within their OS. Online solutions are aplenty, such as NAS (particularly for small businesses) and cloud storage services such as Dropbox or OneDrive. Alternatively, you could take a more physical approach- investing in an external hard drive and backing up to that.
Plus, you can hand your PC a timely speed boost by transferring old files you have no immediate use for onto an external storage system.
Other General Clean-ups
These few simple steps above are a good way to periodically plan out the maintenance of your PC, but there are still a few small pointers to be had to squeeze every last drop of performance and longevity.
Delete unused programmes
Your hard drive can quickly become crowded with bits of software you impulsively installed long ago. Used it once and never again. It pays to trawl through your installed programmes every now and then, deleting the ones that you no longer have use for.
Windows’ “Uninstall/change programme” is fine for a simple click-and-delete service, but it doesn’t quite get the job done right. Consider using Revo Uninstaller, a service that picks through your hard drive with a fine toothpick, removing each and every trace of any programme you wish to remove.
Launch Less Stuff on Startup
Startup can be one of the most irritating processes for users of a slow PC. If you’ve had enough of switching your PC on and nipping off for a bath while it loads, then consider slashing the amount of programmes that boot up on launch.
On Windows, press the Windows key and ‘r’ to bring up the ‘Run’ tab. Enter ‘msconfig’, and the ‘System Configuartion’ windows will appear. From here, you are free to untick any number of programmes currently booting up on launch- lifting a heavy burden from the shoulders of your PC in the process.
Install some more RAM
If you’re at your wits end with the performance of your PC, you can always upgrade it. Random Access Memory is directly concerned with speed of your PC, tasked with running multiple applications at once. If you find your PC is chugging along at nothing more than a crawl, and you can’t afford a new system, upgrading the RAM may be the best compromise.
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