The 10 Computer Tips That Matter
It’s important to always maintain your computer whether it’s for personal or business use. Simply knowing what to do in order to keep it optimized, is the first step to ensuring your computer maintains a lasting performance! A lack of maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean your computer won’t last awhile it just means it may not last as long. Computers can start to slow down and take a hit to their performance as time passes. That’s why by following these 10 computer tips you will not only extend the life span, but also improve its efficiency! So let’s get started!
10. Dust Your Computer!
It might seem like a given, but a lot of people avoid this one. It can be a bit scary messing around with the inside of your computer case, but it’s fairly simple to clean! While dusting the vents on the outside can definitely help, doing the components on the inside can improve performance. Dust can block airflow which creates more heat, meaning less performance. I use an electric duster like this one from Amazon — Metro Vacuum ED500P. You may also choose to use pressurized air cans for dusting, such as these from Amazon — Pressurized Air Dusters. I recommend that you check Walmart since their disposable ones are typically cheaper. But with that out of the way, follow these computer tips below to not damage anything!
- Unplug the computer tower, then hold the power button for 3 seconds (to drain remaining power).
- Place the computer tower on a surface like your kitchen table or countertop and remove the side panel.
- Touch the computer case with your hands before touching anything inside, to discharge static electric you may be carrying. You can also wear an anti-static wrist band but it isn’t required.
- Use the electric duster or pressurized air cans to remove dust from the fans and case.
- Use an anti-static cloth to remove dust from any windows on the case, if you have any. I use it to remove dust from other metal coverings or components.
- Re-attach the case panel and you’re done!
9. Clean Off Viruses or Spyware
Running a scan of your system regularly can help extend the lifespan. Viruses have been known to damage components and eventually make your computer useless. They can also attempt to overheat your computer which again will shorten its life. I like to use Emsisoft or Malwarebytes for a quick system scan. By keeping your system clean you’ll reduce the chances of your banking or account information being stolen as well.
8. Clean Temporary Internet Files
Make sure you keep your system clean even in the browser. Files like these are kept on your computer and some are harmful! Tracking cookies are very common but some malicious websites will track information to steal your data. Malicious threats aside, temporary internet files can take up space and slow your browser over time. Clear them off by navigating to your search history and selecting to remove cookies, cache and anything else you don’t need. Website preferences or passwords should be alright but most of the other things can go! Here’s a great article on how to clear history or other files for different browsers — Removing Internet History.
7. Tidy up Your Desktop Icons
Icons on your desktop are perfectly fine, but having too many of them can simply clutter everything. When you turn your computer on, it needs to load folders and icons on your desktop. If you have several folders with several gigabytes of data, it can slow your startup speeds significantly as it tries to display them all. Try to keep things to a minimum, don’t overdo the shortcuts or the extra folders. Beyond performance, it’ll also help you to notice if you accidentally install an unwanted program. Try to keep it clean!
6. Delete Old Applications
Having too much on your computer can bog it down over time. Even if you aren’t playing all those games or watching all those videos, they take up space. Every time your computer updates it relies on having extra space. But as time goes on, your storage gets older or parts of it become damaged. It’s a natural thing to happen as you rewrite over the same sections again and again. Filling up all the storage on your computer can and will eventually lower performance! Simply go to add and remove programs to uninstall large games. Delete old photos or check the downloads folder for anything that is not needed. Doing this will help save room for the things that matter!
5. Remember to Turn it Off
Yes, it’s another easy one for the computer tips list, but a lot of organizations leave their computers on. The reason for this is so that you can use it without waiting for a long startup, but this comes at a cost. Not only will the computer draw energy but it still has to accomplish tasks even in sleep mode. Sleep mode simply reduces what is running and this is good, but not for extended periods of time. Updates can require the computer to be restarted but this can be delayed for weeks without being shut down. If you open multiple applications, these processes can also remain in the background even if you click to exit them. Eventually this whole process can slow the computer and shorten its life span. Simply put, shut it off when you aren’t using it or at least during the night.
4. Check Airflow
This one is an easy one for computer tips, especially for laptops. The reason why it’s on this list of computer tips, is because many people overlook it. Whether it’s your desktop or laptop, they need proper ventilation. If your computer tower vents out of the bottom then long carpet may have an impact. Maybe you like to use your laptop on the bed for studying, those vents on the back or on the bottom of it could end up blocked! Overheating will shorten the lifespan drastically! A sit-up tray on the bed can help a lot. If it’s your desktop then try giving it an extra inch or two from the wall, or lift it off the floor using a small board. Airflow can definitely affect how noisy the fans get.
3. Clean Off Old Files
This sounds similar to deleting programs, but it’s more in-depth. After you delete games or programs they will leave some small files. Areas such as “Documents”, will hold onto saved data or other things in case you reinstall them. This is convenient if you do plan to, so you don’t have to start all your progress over again. But for programs that you never plan to use, it’s extra space being taken up. Eventually it can get harder to navigate because some programs will keep hundreds of files. It’s helpful if you are comfortable with doing the suggestions below, but if you aren’t that’s alright too! You can just skip this step or take a look to see if you can find these folders. Areas to check!
- Go to “Local Disk ©:” and remove unneeded files under program files. If you recognize a program you deleted, then remove the file here.
- Check your “Documents” folder and remove any files associated with programs you deleted that you don’t plan to use.
- Go to your “Downloads” folder, most things in here are temporary or are not needed anymore. Check for anything that you don’t need.
- Look for photos or videos that were saved by messaging apps (generally under “Documents”). Most messaging apps will automatically save small copies or the actual photos and videos, especially if you clicked on them.
2. Create Restore/Backups
Despite following all of the computer tips above, things can still go wrong. Whether it was something you installed or a system update, things will eventually go wrong. Creating a system backup is essential for ensuring that you don’t have to restart and lose all your files. Here’s a great guide for doing it — Create a System Backup. System restore can also help to take it back before an update or installation. Windows will offer several options, but I prefer to try system restore using a recent point. It’s easier and quicker than restoring from a full backup if possible. Just make sure you create extra restore points that you know are safe!
1. Decide When to Upgrade
If all the other computer tips don’t help, it could be a single part. If your display has turned black but your computer still turns on, try to plug the video output into a different slot if possible. A black screen can mean the video card or built-in display graphics has failed. The motherboard could also be damaged. A computer that is slowing down significantly, might just need a simple upgrade. hard drives start to slow down the more you use them and this happens after a few years. Data storage and what you use for it can have a major impact on speeds. If you play games then you might notice this after two or more years. You can easily replace the hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD). This will increase startup times and extend the life of your computer.
Final Comments for the 10 Computer Tips
There are many other ways to maintain your computer, but by following these 10 computer tips you’ve already accomplished a lot! While I can’t promise that your computer will last longer, I can say that you should notice an improvement! Simple things like clearing programs off can help to speed it up. But if your computer is still slow then upgrading to an SSD will help a lot. Most slow speeds are fixable by improving your storage drive or by cleaning off old files. I have used the upgrading method for doubling or even tripling the speeds of older computers! Hopefully this list helps and please leave any comments or suggestions below!
Originally published at techvirtuosity.com on February 19, 2019.