In this day and age, computers are a household item, a rather expensive one yes, but still an everyday commodity. No matter how much you may think you are looking after your PC, something will go wrong sometimes, this applies to everyone. For the average clueless PC user, regular maintenance probably doesn’t even ring a bell, after all, it is hard to tell something is wrong with your computer when all you use it for is Facebook and Youtube. Mac users don’t have much to maintain hardware wise, mostly due to the fact that everything inside is glued together and compact to the point that it is more aesthetics over usability. Then there are the Windows power-users who mostly know what they are doing, and Mac power-users who probably rely on their Applecare to look after their PC for a pretty hefty fee. There are also the Linux users. During the time they’re not dealing with kernel panics on their Archlinux setup, they know exactly what is going on and what needs fixing. With that brief introduction out of the way, let’s look at ways which any computer user of any caliber can keep up the lifespan of their rig.
Most causes of PCs underperforming, slowing down, “getting old” and whatever else people might call it, are caused by the end user. Nothing happens without a cause, even if it might initially seem like it. Largely the cause of PCs slowing down is nothing to do with the hardware, as paranoid as you might be getting, no your new 1080 GPU probably did not go up in flames, and your fans are still working. Software bloat is a major issue in the “my computer is running slow because it is old” department and with a few steps, you can probably bring it back up to speed.
Now depending on your operating system of choice, this will work slightly differently so let us go through them separately.
On Windows, open up “Control Panel” then click on “Programs and Features”. You should see a list of the programs installed on your PC. Look through them and see if you are unsure about the origin of any of them (using task manager to spot suspicious processes might help). Remove anything which might seem suspicious or you cannot pinpoint the origin of. Not to say that it is directly anything drastic like a virus or something along those lines, but it might be some bloat which is keeping your PC from running smoothly. Some “technically politically correct” business practices like options to install toolbars, or changing your default search engine, boxes being ticked by default during installations or sometimes even before that. This is a fairly common practice and there is technically nothing wrong with it, but it takes advantage of the fact that most people don’t look at what they’re agreeing to during an installation. For example, when installing Skype, during the installation there is one page where it tells you something about Bing and MSN, most people just ignore it because they probably do not want anything to do with it. If they looked closely, however, they would realize that the page had two preemptively ticked boxes to make Bing their search engine and MSN their homepage. Now, this doesn’t seem too bad, after all, it is just some minor changes which can be quickly be reversed. Some other programs tend to be not as kind however and install a load of junk or “bloatware09-” which usually uses some form of underhanded technique to make money off you in one way or another.
If you are on a Mac or any other device which may be running OSX, all you need to do is go into your Applications folder (shortcut: Shift + CMD + A in finder) and simply drag applications from there into the trash can. It is usually be found on the far right end of your dock. On OSX installing things works a bit differently, all you do is essentially drag the program into the applications folder so you are mostly free from worries of someone slipping in some preemptively ticked options, however, you can still get tricked into installing various things by downloading a preemptively modified disk image. Sometimes sites have that exact “ticked box” scenario but it happens before you even click download, try being more careful and fully look over the website before you start downloading.
Image source: Pixabay
Regular maintenance doesn’t have to be cleaning out your computer fans and dusting off the PSU. Everyone’s probably heard these before but it really does help. Cleaning out the clutter that gets on your PC through consistent regular use really works wonders. Deleting all the Temp files, file fragments, as well as browser cookies from various sites amongst other things, will visibly boost your computer’s performance. If you are tech savvy enough to do it yourself, then set a monthly reminder and do it yourself. If not, then just get CCleaner to do it for you.
This is not as much of an issue nowadays due to solid state drives not needing to do so, but around ten years ago, defragging was standard procedure on every PC everywhere. Defragging is sure to boost your hard drive’s performance without a shadow of doubt. Defragmentation essentially reorganizes data on your disk in a way where it makes it easier to access files, therefore making it faster as a result. If you have a standalone PC then you most likely have regular hard drives rather than Solid state drives, therefore regularly defragging them is highly recommended. Defragging on OSX is also beneficial but does not need to be done anywhere near as often due to different methods of writing data onto discs.
If you keep up all of this as well as an annual reinstallation of the operating system, then your computer should remain happy for as long as possible.
Image source: Pixabay
In case of your computer acting up to the point where it is literally impossible to access anything on it to even attempt to try and fix it, then some drastic measure might need to be taken. Services providing PC repairs that specialize in both software and hardware tend to be cheaper to hire than manually replacing parts in your PC when you are not even sure what is broken in the first place. As much as the average user can do with some basic computer knowledge, sometimes it is hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong with your computer at one point in time. Especially when the point of no return has been reached and the computer just doesn’t boot.
CEO and Founder at Mighty Shouts.
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