5 Tips to Improving Your Computer’s Performance

According to Computers and Education, an international research journal, students spend an average of over 36 hours per week on a computer. Your computer usage in time is nearly equivalent to a full-time job! And depending on your career choice, your full-time job upon graduation may still continue and exceed this statistic. The only difference being less Facebook scrolling and more time spent reading/sending emails and carrying out work duties. Regardless of the scenario, computers play a significant role in modern lifestyles, and that role will continue to become more popular as the world around us becomes more influenced by the domain of technology.

Throughout this post, I want to exploit this advancing computer age with you. The American culture is well-known for being time-oriented. We value every tick of the clock as a limited resource, and if we get stuck in traffic or fall behind on school work, we get frustrated and stressed. It’s important for us to meet our needs conveniently and efficiently, even if it requires laying down money to do so. But put your credit card away because below I will share with you five free tips in making your computer a more efficient machine. Just as vehicles need their occasional tuning, computers need their occasional “cleaning”. The methods of cleaning or maintenance that I will cover include: manual trashing, anti-virus software, Disk Cleanup, Disk Defragmenter, and Error Checking. Most of these tips are Windows-based, but some of the concepts may be applicable to MACs as well.

Resist your hoarding temptations

Are you guilty of having a storage closet, basement, or garage that is full of junk that you will probably never use again? If you are, you’re probably just as guilty of stock piling unused software, files, and shortcuts on your computer. If your computer is not running as quickly as you’d like, this may be a prime reason why. Spend some time deleting unneeded shortcuts off your desktop, ancient Powerpoints from high school, and bulky video files. Afterwards, go to the Control Panel, click on Uninstall a Program, and remove programs or add-ons that you never use anymore. Every free MB of storage counts!

Time for the flu shot

There are several variations of malware including viruses, worms, spyware, and Trojans. Regardless of the type of malware, its presence on your computer is limiting the speed to carry out processes. To get rid of malicious infections and prevent future threats, make sure that you have some sort of anti-virus software installed. Not having anti-virus protection is like having a weak immune system in the middle of a cold winter. You’re bound to catch some sort of bug. So get protected and make sure it’s a respected program. One of the most widely-used and effective anti-virus programs is AVG Anti-Virus. I’ve been using the free edition for about 10 years, and as much internet browsing and downloading that I do, I’ve only received a few minor infections – all of which have been caught and wiped out by AVG’s net.

Cluster duster

The Disk Cleanup tool is like cleaning your room for the first time in a year. You find things you never knew you had and wish you didn’t have. The result is a full trashcan and a more organized living space. Disk Cleanup does just that. It analyzes your hard drive for unnecessary files, removes those files upon your approval, and, in turn, improves the performance of your computer. The pesky files that this utility looks for include: temporary internet files, temporary Windows files, Recycle Bin items, and unused programs.

To utilize Disk Cleanup, click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup. After the tool has calculated how much space you can free up, select the files that you wish to delete, and then click the Clean up system files button to start the cleaning process.

Pick up the pieces

Now that you’ve done your fair share of cleaning, it’s time to ensure that everything is organized and placed in the correct spot for future ease of access. Similar to tidying your room, Disk Defragmenter reorganizes the data on your hard drive. It does this by searching for fragmented files. Think of a fragmented file as a Lego set that has tipped over and broken up. The Defragmenter’s job is to piece back together all of the blocks, or consolidate the fragmented files, so that each piece gets neatly stacked in the same location. This process eliminates the hard drive’s need to search for the fragmented pieces of a file upon opening that file which essentially speeds up the process of reading and writing to your disk.

To use Disk Defragmenter, click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. Make sure that the disk you want to defrag is selected (typically the C: drive). To get an idea of how long the defragmenting process will take, click the Analyze disk button, and then click the Defragment disk button once you are ready to begin defragging.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But if it is, let’s do something about it

Has your hard drive ever given you a hard time? Possibly. But when you experience computer difficulties, sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint those inefficiencies or issues to a specific piece of hardware such as your hard drive. That’s where the Error Checking utility comes in. If your air conditioner is pushing out warm air, you have a problem. But unless you’re a central air conditioning expert, you don’t know what the exact issue is. You know it’s your air conditioner, but you’re not experienced enough to pinpoint the specific part that’s causing the problem. So what do you do? You pay a professional to take a look at it and either have it repaired or replaced. This scenario is exactly what Error Checking can do for you…except you are the professional! You may not know the exact problem or even if there is a problem, but that’s what this utility can accomplish for you. Error Checking scans the hard drive for bad sectors (unreadable clusters of data) and misplaced files that are causing poor hard disk performance and pesky errors. If any faults are found, the tool attempts to recover the bad sectors or fix the errors.

To initiate the Error Checking process, click Start > Computer. Right-click on the hard disk that you want to perform the checkup on (typically the C: drive), and then click Properties. In the Properties dialog box, click the Tools tab, and then click the Check Now button. Once the Check Disk dialog box pops up, select both options, and then click Start.

If you take the above steps, I promise your machine will be processing more efficiently. You may only notice minor improvements at a time, but every fraction of a second shed on the hundreds of operations you perform on your computer each week counts. In turn, those 36+ hours per week that you spend on your computer can be spent in a more timely manner. Certain loading times will be reduced, giving you more time to be more productive and less frustrated. So take the initiative to doctor your machine and remember to repeat these steps regularly – once every month or two should be sufficient. Your computer will thank you!

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