It freezes and crashes, it is teeth-grindingly slow, and you can’t deny it any longer: You need a new computer. However, for whatever reason, you are dragging your feet in making that all-important purchase; maybe you need to save up for the exact make and model you need, or maybe you have a sentimental connection to your old machine, and you hate to see it tossed in the trash.
Studies on the total cost of ownership find that you should replace your computer at least every four years — but for most households, finding thousands of dollars in the budget so often isn’t so easily done. Likely, you will find that the following steps relieve so many of your computer’s issues that you it runs like-new, and you can put off that expensive purchase indefinitely. Without further ado, let’s get into how you can squeeze a few more months of use out of your old computer.
Delete All Non-Vital Junk
The more stuff you have stored on your computer, the slower it will run. Thus, you need to spend time sifting through your computer and eliminating anything that is old and/or unnecessary. This is particularly true if you have dozens of programs running in the background, such as media players, video game platforms, note-taking software or anything else; when this happens, your computer must dip into the slower hard drive for temporary memory. Then, if your hard drive is overfull of saved files, your computer drags along like it was built in the 1950s.
You should perform a manual clean-up, and you should also download a free clean-up tool, like Dr. Cleaner or CCleaner. These programs know how to sniff out unused strings of code and old cookies which are clogging up your device.
Physically Clean Your Computer
Your computer must maintain a regular temperature for each component to function optimally, and the accumulation of dust and grime can prevent it from regulating its temperature effectively. Thus, it doesn’t hurt to take an anti-static dust cloth and some elbow grease to your device every few months.
If you have a desktop computer, you should disassemble the CPU and gently wipe down the internal spaces of your computer, being careful not to roughly jostle or scratch any element. You should pay particularly close attention to the fan, which can quickly become clogged with hair and dust bunnies. Laptop users have it a bit easier; you only need to use canned air to force crumbs and other small debris out of the keyboard, wipe the monitor free of fingerprints and get back to work.
Update (or Revert) Software
Most often, software runs sub-optimally because you have been neglecting to patch or update it for many months. To solve this problem, you should allow your software to update. Admittedly, this will slow your computer down further while the updates are downloaded and installed, but afterward, you will likely find that your programs run more smoothly, and they might also have more useful features. To prevent this issue from occurring in the future, you can set updates to automatically download and install.
However, if your computer (and operating system) are exceedingly outdated, the latest updates might be too fancy for your machine. In that case, you might need to revert to a previous update — but doing so could open up vulnerabilities on your device, through which hackers can get at your data. If you believe your software is too new, you should contact the software provider for guidance or else bite the bullet and buy a new computer.
Use a Tune-up Service
If you are as close to a luddite as a computer user can be, you might want to trust updates, virus scans, device setup and other maintenance tasks to a dedicated service provider. Because maintenance is so critical to proper computer function, you need to perform regular computer tune-ups to get the most out of any device but especially rapidly aging devices. Trustworthy service providers will ensure your software is properly installed and updated, your services like internet and email are functioning well and your antivirus programs are up-to-date. Plus, most tune-up services remain on-call, so you can contact them with any questions or concerns whenever they arise.
Install New Bits and Pieces
Conversely, if you are sufficiently computer-savvy, you might feel comfortable updating your machine not all at once but in fits and starts. You can do this by replacing components of your computer one at a time. You can start with your power supply and graphics card, both of which wear out and become outdated relatively quickly. Next, the drives on your device — to include the hard drive as well as CD/DVD drive — can be modernized, followed by fans and any auxiliary tools, like monitors, keyboards and mice.
Before you drag yourself to the store to make what is likely a completely unnecessary purchase, you should try to fix the problems preventing you from fully utilizing your computer. With the right organization, the right maintenance and the right tools, you should be able to keep your computer humming for well over four years.