This is a guest post by Skellie. If you run a website or blog you might be interested in reading her tips and tutorials on creating better content. You can find them at Skelliewag.org.
If your computer is running slowly, not doing what you want it to, and taking forever to start up, you might be in need of some beginner PC care. If you consider yourself a bit of an expert, however, you’ll probably already be familiar with the points in this article. Perhaps you could pass it on to someone who is less tech savvy?
In this post, I want to suggest some very basic ways you can look after your PC. Set aside a few hours and follow the steps suggested here. You should find that your PC runs quicker, more smoothly, and is generally more stable. The instructions are written for Windows XP but should apply to Vista, also.
1. Make sure your Windows firewall is ‘ON’
This is the most important way to protect your PC from viruses and other nasties.
Browse to ‘Network and Internet Connections’ in the Control Panel, then click ‘Network Connections’ and right click on your internet connection when it appears.
Select ‘Properties’, then browse to the ‘Advanced’ tab and tick the internet connection firewall box.
2. Delete programs you don’t use
This is an important way to free up space on your computer and to get rid of programs that are slowing you down and using up your computer’s resources.
Go to the Control Panel and select Add / Remove Programs. This will create a list of all the things you have installed on your computer. Delete the programs you know you don’t use. If you’re unsure about what something is then it’s best to leave it — just in case it’s actually important!
3. Run Disk Cleanup
This can be found through the Start menu. Select All Programs –> Accessories
–> System Tools –> Disk Cleanup. This will help maximize free space and make your data storage tighter.
4. Get rid of junk
You know — the random detritus we collect as we use our PC on a day-to-day basis.
Most of us chuck everything we download into a folder, just in case we need it again. These folders can take up a surprising amount of space. Go through your stuff and delete everything you don’t need. You could burn things you might need to DVD in order to keep them safe while freeing up more space on your PC.
5. Run Disk defragmenter
If you’ve never done this before your PC’s files will be all over the place, making it much harder for your PC to link necessary files together. In other words, this makes your computer slower. Select All Programs –> Accessories –> System Tools –> Disk defragmenter and select ‘Defragment’ for all the drives you are storing data on (most people have just one). This can take a while so go have a cup of coffee. By now, you’ve earned it.
6. Do a virus check
Most people seem to have Norton Anti-virus but this isn’t a program I recommend. I have friends who use this and the program constantly pops up, nagging them about certain things. It’s very annoying.
I recommend downloading three free programs: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, AVG Anti-Spyware Free Edition and AVG Anti-Rootkit Free Edition — all of them are available here. I’m using these three programs on the computer I’m writing this post on and I never have trouble with viruses.
Do a thorough scan of all your drives with each of those programs (or your anti-virus program of choice). Make sure you allow the program to download updates first. This helps it to catch more recent threats.
7. Stop unwanted programs running at start up
In the bottom right-hand corner of the screen you will see the time and, next to it, some little icons. These are programs and processes that are constantly running in the background and will start at the same time as Windows. They can use up valuable resources and make your computer run more slowly.
Check that you actually need all of these programs switched on all the time. Some of them you will use but can choose to run them only when you need them. To stop a program beginning when Windows starts, find the program’s ‘Options’ panel and deselect ‘Run when Windows starts’. Easy, no?
Little by little or all at once
These tips should have your PC running faster, more smoothly and more safely. You could approach the list as a long-term project, implementing one tip each week, or set aside an afternoon and do them all at once.
I recently followed all these steps with my friend’s laptop and she says it’s working much better now. I hope they’re just as useful to you.