#184: Urgent Care – PC Edition

Computers are sort of like cars in the sense that over time, without a little TLC and regular maintenance their performance starts to be somewhat less than it was originally (and 99.9% of the time no matter what you do at some point they just get too old.) Since many of us are working on computers that are getting to be a little long in the tooth, you may be interested in some tips to try and wring out every last bit of juice you can from that “old beater”. (Even if you have a new computer, these will help you keep it operating at top speed.)

Until we can bring our own computers to work here’s how to maintain the one you’ve got.

1. Keep Current with Windows Updates

If you have a company issued PC this is probably already taken care of. For your home PC, it’s definitely a good idea to set this up to happen automatically.

2. Prevent Viruses & Malware

Again, if you have a company PC this is probably covered already, but for your home PC you are on the front-line of this battle. And it’s not enough to simply install them, you’ve got to keep them updated…..or it could get very ugly. Here are a few things I use at home: Free AVG Anti-Virus , Microsoft’s FREE W indows Defender and FREE Zone Alarm Firewall

3. Remove Unnecessary Software

Over time you probably accumulate at least a few programs that you either don’t need anymore or picked up somewhere and really never needed in the first place. You can remove the ones you don’t need via Control Panel » Add/Remove Programs. The built in program from removing software in Windows isn’t always the greatest so you can try the FREE Revo Uninstaller if you’re having trouble getting rid of anything.

4. Tidy Up Your Hard Drive

Both Windows and the software it runs, tend to leave a big mess of temporary files scattered around on your hard drive, wasting valuable space. Surfing the web also causes your PC to accumulate a bunch of pesky ‘temp’ files. With a nearly full hard drive your PC will probably act strange and slow considerably. Cleaning up unneeded files, scanning for disk errors and defragmenting the hard drive can help to restore some zip to your system.

How to run Scan Disk to check for errors.

How to Defragment your hard drive and How to schedule a weekly defrag

If You Do Nothing Else!

If all of this is too intimidating and you do nothing else, especially for your home PC, go get a little program called CCleaner and run it once a week. CCleaner will let you give your PC a good cleaning; nice and simple.

Schedule CCleaner to run automatically

If you’ve done everything above you’re probably in pretty good shape. However, if you’re like me and that still has you at a crawl (did I mention my laptop is 6 yrs old?) here are some further options to help you out. * Duct tape and bubble gum not included.

Optimize for Performance

Turning of some Windows functions can help. I’ve recently had to tweak my Windows settings to “Optimize Performance”, which means turning off a bunch of stuff that’s normally on. This one is super quick & easy. However, there are trade offs such as things not looking as nice on your screen, etc. You’ll have to decide for yourself if this one is worth it or not.

1. Right click on My Computer and select Properties

2. On the Advanced tab click the Performance Settings button.

3. Select the Adjust for best performance option and click OK.

Don’t Launch Programs if you don’t have to

If launching programs take a long time, try not to open them. For example, choose to View email attachments instead of actually opening them. In Lotus Notes, you can right-click and choose view for many files.

Lifehacker Pack:

A great website that I regularly read, called Lifehacker, has created the “Lifehacker Pack” which contains all of their favorite, must-have Windows applications including CCleaner and Revo Uninstaller among others. (I’m running most of them at home myself.) You can jump over there and grab only what you want in a few easy clicks.

Get the full Lifehacker Pack description or just go and get it .

I hope that helps you give your computer at least a little speedier.  Do you have any speed-up tricks that have worked for you?

UPDATE: Another great site has their version of recommended software. Check out the Make Use Of pack here:http://ninite.com/makeuseof (they both have lots of apps in common)


4 thoughts on “#184: Urgent Care – PC Edition

  1. Terry Puckett says:

    Up until the current era, we were swapping out machines often enough at work that such clean-up practices were not as important. However, being the tight wad that am, my personal machine had to last for a l-o-n-g time. For those home machines, I have employed a variety of maintenance steps, most of them similar to the ones you listed. Ultimately, while it requires a number of hours to complete, by far, the best results are achieved by setting aside a copy of all my data, and then: wiping the hard drive clean; reloading Windows; and letting it download and install all the necessary service packs and security updates. Then after re-installing the software that I use all the time (Office, other browsers, etc.), I reload my data and I’m back ready to go. In variably, I end up never re-installing a lot of the software that was previously on the machine. Bottom line, without all the clutter that was cleaned out and without all the extra routines running in the background, it is like having a brand new machine. Due to the time required, typically I go through this ultimate cleaning exercise about every other year on my home machine.


  2. So, the irony of this edition is that it comes on a day when my hard drive decides to take a nosedive! Good stuff… but sometimes a sledgehammer just *feels* so right. 🙂 Call me the Hard Drive Killer!!!!


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