Before I begin I would like to tell you that the following article contains the DIY (do it yourself) tasks without buying any expensive programs for computer maintenance. From my 10 years of computer wrecking experience I can tell you that simple computer maintenance can be done by using the basic utilities programs which are a part of the Windows operating system. You can reap even more benefits if using freewares doesn’t hurt your ego.
Here I’ll be listing out tasks you should perform regularly to keep your old computer running as if it was a new one. As I am not a huge fan of Apple OS X or whatever that is, I’ll keep things more related to the Microsoft Windows OS.
Similar methods can also be used to perform easy maintenance for your Mac also.
You know, in computers it’s all the same when it comes to basic functioning.
1. Uninstall the programs which you don’t use often
These days the computers are very fast and a simple utility programs takes only a minute or two to get installed. So, what do we do?
We install the program, do what we want and then just forget about it.
This practice might not cause your computer to perform sluggishly with only a few programs installed but here we are talking about what tens of such not so frequently used programs can do to your computer.
Here is an interesting analogy:
Think about each program as your pet dog. It is very charming to see your dog do what you instruct it to but as time passes you no longer play with your dog and don’t even realise that it is consuming your resources (food, water) and some space to keep its kennel. Don’t forget about cleaning the leftovers and excreta.
Similarly, a program uses the precious hard disk or SSD space and vital system resources. And when such programs are made to start with Windows then they become resource hogs.
To un-install unused programs in Windows 7 go to :
Control Panel\Programs\Programs and Features
Double click on the program you want to get rid of and follow the on-screen instructions.
2. De-fragment your disk
The HDDs store different versions and parts of the same file over different places on the hard disk platter. It happens over a period of time and you might not even notice but after a few months it becomes problematic and irritating.
How fragmentation can lead to slow computing?
Here is what happens, when you try to open a file, the processor tries to access it. Now it is duty of the storage device (HDD in this case) to provide the file to the processor for required processing but as the file is scattered over different sections of your hard disk, it takes a little while before the whole file is made available to the processor. This delay varies with the amount of the fragmentation.
Here is an analogy to understand the same:
You are trapped into a haunted room with a carton box and 50 sheets of paper lying at sixes and sevens. To get out of the room you have to put all those paper sheets into the box in least possible time. It will take you a considerable amount of time if the paper sheets are lying randomly in the room. This situation is similar to fragmentation.
Now what if all those 50 paper sheets are bound together? It will only take you few moments to drop that paper stack into the box and escape that devilish room. Simple, isn’t it?
How to de-fragment?
In Windows 7, go Start Menu and in the search box enter disk defrag, now click on Defragment your hard drive. Select the drive that you want to de-fragment and click on Defragment Disk button.
3. Delete temporary and junk files
Even if you un-install the programs that you no longer use, they leave their traces behind. Those leftovers/traces might be in the form of junk files and saved user settings. For optimal performance you should keep the least possible amount of data on your HDD.
Here is how you can delete those temporary and junk files using Disk Cleanup utility in Windows 7.
In the Start Menu search box enter cleanmgr. Click on Disk Cleanup and select the drive that you want to clean. Select what you want to delete and then go to “More Options” tab and click Cleanup to delete restore points and shadow copies.
4. Check for software and driver updates
The program updates bring tons of security, performance and stability improvements with each new version. The difference might be negligible in terms of UI but in terms of functionality it might make a hell of a difference.
Many a times, some bugs and crashes which we users are unable to troubleshoot are removed in the next version of the program. On the other hand driver updates sometimes bring new features, support for higher data rate and other performance improvements.
Updating softwares and drivers to the latest version is of utmost importance.
FileHipppo update checker is a nifty little program which automatically tells you when newer versions of installed softwares are available.
For updating drivers it is always better to visit the manufacturer’s website. I don’t trust the updates provided by 3rd parties. Check these following links to get the latest drivers for your laptops.
5. Run full system scan once a fortnight
You can ignore this point if you have some reputed anti-virus solution installed onto your system but take a deep breath and think, “Does my anti-virus provide 100% protection?”
You know that it’s not full proof and hence you should run full system scan on your system regularly. If you’re wondering about how often should you scan your system fully then I’d say at least once in 15 days.
If you are addicted to adult websites then you must always run your browser within some sandbox software.
6. Trim your startup list
The program in the Startup list will load at the time of system startup and thus might lead to long reboot times. So, make it a habit to check the programs in the startup list every 15 days.
Some dubious programs always put themselves in the startup list and hence the need for user intervention arises.
To check which programs are automatically started when you start Windows type msconfig in the Start Menu search bar and go to Startup tab. Under the Startup Item column you’ll see which programs are started along with Windows automatically. Uncheck the programs which you don’t want to start automatically.
Our friends at itexpertvoice have composed an article on reducing the start time in windows 7
7. Update Windows
Like software updates Windows update also bring a lot of security, stability and performance improvements and sometimes even newer features. You should always keep your Windows OS updated.
8. Keep your computer clean
It might sound ridiculous when someone tells you that keeping your computer clean is directly related to system performance but trust me it is.
Keeping your computer in a dust free place keeps the dust from clinging to the exhaust vents, key board and the speakers. You know how dust affects the audio performance and makes your keyboard and display dirty which might affect your productivity. But it is a completely different scenario when dust gets inside your system. It makes the vital system components to heat up and lead to sluggish performance.
You can follow these easy steps to clean your computer and make your computer look presentable.
Summing it up…
Your computer is working just fine as long as you don’t this blue ring of the evil. This horrendously blue circle can also be used as a measure to determine the degree of messiness of your Windows based computer.
Always keep your computer away from such dreadful symbols by feeding it a regular dose of updates and other maintenance tasks.