Basic maintenance of a computer

Do you feel your computer was once the fastest around? If you are using Windows as operating system, let me tell you this problem is usual, but easy to deal with.

What is causing the problem?

To say it in plain English, the problem is not that your computer has become slow. Your computer has exactly the same capacity it had when you bought it. It cannot get old and tired because it is not a person! The issue is that you are giving it more jobs to do than you did before, even if you didn’t notice, and it needs more time to process all these new tasks. That's why you feel it slower. On the other hand, the computer seems to become slower because as software evolves, it asks for or requires more resources. Eventually, we will all need to renew our computers someday; yet we can still do a lot to improve our computers' performance in spite of this.

Basic maintenance of a computer

What we can do now is to give our computers basic software maintenance. I will divide it into a few steps:

Un-install what you don't use

You do this either by accessing the respective link in your computer's Control Panel or using auxiliary software, which can help you with it. I recommend the latter. Go ahead and remove all those trial applications, useless tool-bars, old versions of software you never need. If you not know what something is, please, leave it there.

It is good to do this because that way you will get rid of many small applications that run small tasks now and then without telling you.

Clean your browser's cache, recyclable bin and temporary files

This is the elegant way to "get rid of the garbage". Clean your browser's cache in its "Tools" menu, empty your recyclable bin right-clicking on its icon and delete your temporary files, as that’s where those nosy cookies reside, as well. There are applications that can assist you in the process, by the way. I recommended CCleaner in my article "Software you must have —a list for Windows".

It is good to throw out the garbage because current computers need hard disk space to work. Linux users create its own "swap" disk to do it, but Windows users use a "pagefile.sys" file instead, and that file needs space. If your computer is full of files, there won't be room for it, and your performance will be limited.

Get rid of intruders

Sometimes the computer is running well until a virus sneaks in. That said, carry out a general check and make sure there aren't viruses or spyware in your system. If you find intruders, destroy them.

Defragment your hard disks

In plain English, to defragment is to tidy up all the information you have stored in your hard disks, from the mess in which it was first recorded, to the tidy way in which it is arranged after that. Use your favourite defragment utility to proceed.

It is good to do this because the disk heads will need to jump form one section of the hard disk to another to carry out what you are asking it to do less frequently, increasing speed.

Kill useless processes

This one is a little more advanced, so it deserves a short explanation. Every time you turn on your computer, the operating system calls a few programs and keeps them active in the memory. These are called system processes. Some applications adds new processes to this list too.

You don't always need to have these processes active, however. It is safe to remove them from the list of processes which load during the system's start up. Just make sure you know what you are doing.

Tidy up

As time passes, you notice you computer gets full of files: documents you created, files you received by e-mail, etc. Those who organise their information properly do not need to spend much time searching where their files are, but many people are very untidy. Here some things you may like to think about:

+ Are there files you can combine? Your letters, for example?
+ Can you identify the contents of a file only by its filename?
+ Did you erase the drafts of your previous projects?
+ Have you ever heard about the .mp3pro format? It gives you almost CD quality but with a third of the size
+ Are your folders really well organized? Could you make up a new way if you took a moment to think?
+ Do you have backup copies of your files?

If you get to keep the order in your computer, you will both save time and work better.

Clean the area

Ironic or not, another point you must consider is to keep the place you work in clean. A computer is a delicate machine, sensitive to dust and humidity. Try to keep your computer in a clean ventilated area, with an appropriate source of light.

If after all this, your computer speed doesn't increase, then consider switching to other software alternatives.

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Knowledge + Computers