Owning a PC is like owning any other machine in that it requires a little (preventative) maintenance to ensure maximum performance and longevity. By following these 5 easy steps you can add years of life to your computer, boot speed, and avoid countless headaches.
#1. Physical Cleaning
While it may not sound like it matters, physically cleaning fan slots and fan blades can improve performance and dramatically increase the longevity of your computer.
It’s very easy to do this task as it really only requires some “canned air” or “PC duster”. These cans of compressed air/gas are a great tool for this job as all you have to do is aim the straw of the can at a fan slot and let the air do the rest. I recommend not doing this in a small space or without a mask if you’re sensitive to dust. Quick note, do NOT hold the can upside down while spraying into your computer!
Removing the dust that builds up on and around fans will allow for the fans expelling heat from the system to do their jobs more efficiently and will keep the system cooler. Remember, excessive heat is the #1 killer of hardware!
#2. Uninstall Unused Programs
Holding on to that 1990’s game you bought and played once? Ditch it! If you’re not using software then why have it take up space on your system or possibly have it running parts of it in the background ultimately slowing down your PC?
Uninstalling software is really easy. In Windows 7 PCs, click on the Start button and select Control Panel. Then, under Programs, select Uninstall a program. You will then be greeted by a list of all installed software on your system.
When you’ve identified a program that you no longer use and don’t intend to use again, click on the program and select Uninstall. Some programs will have an uninstallation wizard to guide you through the process while some will just automate the entire uninstallation process.
#3. Remove Temporary Files
Temporary files can take up tons of hard drive storage and can definitely slow down the speed of your PC if too many of them are kicking around. If forgotten about, the temporary files can amass to huge amounts of data that will essentially just sit on your computer and not provide you much in return.
To remove temporary files using Disk Cleanup, click on the Start button and type “Disk Cleanup“. You’ll then see the Disk Cleanup software listed at the top of the search list. Click on the program to get started.
Disk Cleanup will first ask you which drive you want to clean up; generally the default option is OK for use. Click OK and Disk Cleanup will begin indexing temporary files and collecting data necessary for a successful cleanup.
Typically you’ll want to remove the following (but it’s ultimately up to you on what you may want to keep or not):
- Downloaded Program Files
- Temporary Internet Files
- Recycle Bin
- Temporary Files
If you’re looking for a more in-depth cleaning of your system, check out a FREE program that I highly recommend called Piriform CCleaner. Here’s a link to their website: Piriform CCleaner – Download
#4. Boost Boot Time With MSConfig
MSConfig, or Microsoft System Configuration Utility, is a tool used to manage certain aspects of your Windows PC. One of the best features of MSConfig is its Startup Editor. The Startup Editor allows you to tell your PC which programs you’d like to start when your PC boots up. By eliminating unnecessary startup processes you will notice a huge difference in boot-time performance.
To launch MSConfig, click on the Start button and type “MSConfig“. You’ll then see the msconfig.exe software listed at the top of the search list. Click on the program to get started.
When the program loads, select the Startup tab at the top. Here you will find a list of all processes set to start when your computer boots. Deselect all processes you no longer want to boot up with your system and click Apply to save your changes. Note: It’s generally not a great idea to try to disable anti-virus programs or drivers as you may lose some functionality in certain programs. If you’re unsure, don’t change that particular software’s settings.
#5. Scan For Viruses
If you have an anti-virus installed, learn to use it! Generally all it takes to run a scan is to click on the anti-virus’s desktop icon or the taskbar icon in the bottom right of your desktop and select “Run a scan”. Find out how to set daily/weekly/monthly scans, this is extremely important as it allows your anti-virus to protect your computer silently in the background.
If your anti-virus software has a big exclamation mark or red X on its icon, chances are it needs attention and may not be protecting your PC. Ignoring this will only lead to disappointment later when some malware or virus overtakes your system because you let your anti-virus down when it was calling out to you for help! Anti-viruses are made to be easy to use and while they’re complex under the hood, they’re usually user friendly if you take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the software.
If you’re looking for suggestions on anti-virus software to use, here’s a quick list (no particular order specified):
- Norton 360
- Microsoft Security Essentials
If you’re not willing to go out and buy an anti-virus software, at least do yourself a favor and get Microsoft’s free anti-virus that you can download from their website: Microsoft Security Essentials – Download
By following these 5 easy steps you will notice faster performance and less problems over time with your Windows PC. I hope you enjoyed this article! If you have any questions related to removing software or temporary files or if you’ve found a product that you think does a better job, please comment and I’ll make sure to share my thoughts and try to help you the best I can.