TEXT: 501-837-7200 carmen@seemallardmedia.com

You plunked down a chunk of change on your super speed computer a year ago, started searching the internet, joined Facebook so you could keep up with the kids, surfed Youtube for funny cat videos, and did every single update that the computer told you to make.

Now this machine barely works, and it is collecting dust in the corner.  So somebody convinces you that they can speed it up with one program that will fix everything, but that doesn’t work.  Then you try it again, but that doesn’t work.

So, a year later, it’s time to plunk down another chunk of change on a new computer.  Computers get slower over time, you know.  It’s normal, right?

WRONG!!!!!

Well, sorta.  Yes, it’s true that the electronics in a computer can work slower over time, but it’s slower that is measured in computer terms, not human terms.  A process working a millisecond slower after a couple of years isn’t something measurable for the average user.

I’ve had my HP Desktop since 2008.  I invested nearly $1400 in this machine when I first bought it, but I’ve not had to spend a dime on it since.  Yeah, there are a couple of problems that have started popping up, mainly having to do with the graphics card shutting down whenever a 4K video tries to play on Youtube.  But, hey, 4K wasn’t available on the internet in 2008, so it’s all good for me.

So what am I ranting about?  It’s not the machine, and it’s not Windows (or Yosemite) that is making your computer slow. It’s a lack of maintenance.   I have not found any program, including the one that came with my HP, that can fully maintain and speed up a computer.    The only automatic programs I run on my computer are the HP maintenance, and AVAST anti-virus.

But even with these programs, there are things that every computer owner must do to ensure that their machine runs at the speed it came out of the factory with.

1. Make sure you are buying a fast computer in the first place.  There are plenty of cheap solutions on the market that can help a person start their computing experience, but as soon as they start putting more programs on the machine, the machine will slow down.

When someone tells me that they want to buy a computer, my first question is, “What do you want to use your computer for?”  Their answer makes a huge difference on what kind of machine they should buy, which also makes a difference in the price.  If you want to just get on the internet, then buy a Chromebook.  If you want to make videos, you’ve got to invest much more in a high-end desktop.  If you are a writer, you might want an average laptop that will run word processing programs.

If a person doesn’t know what they want to use their computer for, I advise they wait till they know.  A computer isn’t a TV.  A computer takes much more involvement from the user.

2. Clean off the desktop.  I recently read an article that said  storing files on the desktop will slow down Macs, but not Window’s machines. I disagree. I’ve had plenty of experience of moving files from the “desktop” folder to the “my documents” folder that significantly sped up the computer. It’s the first thing I do when someone asks me to help speed up their computer, and sometimes it’s the only thing I have to do.

Why? The desktop is a folder on your hard drive, but it is also part of how the computer system runs. The desktop is a graphical interface that is constantly having to redraw. You don’t see it, because it happens so fast. The desktop folder is read by the system, and if there are thousands of files in the folder, even if they are hidden in folders on your desktop, reading all these files will slow down your machine.  

That is why Window’s provided the My Documents folder. Learn to organize your files in there, and your computer will run much faster.

3. Clean off the hard drive.   The store clerk convinced you to buy the machine with the one terabyte hard drive, that it will hold a million movies and a bazillion of your grandkids pictures, and you’ll never run out of space.  But they fail to mention that the hard drive is also the hardest working part of your computer.  It contains the programs that run the machine, as well as the funny cat videos you’ve saved from the internet.  Programs constantly write and erase files on the hard drive in order to run.

When your hard drive gets full, the programs can’t work because they have no place to run.        High end computers have two hard drives, one for programs and one for storage.  Go out and buy yourself a one terabyte external hard drive an dump anything that isn’t a program on to that drive.

I recommend running the main hard drive at least half full.  So on a one Gig drive, you should keep 500 megs free.

4. Clean out the Programs folder.  Never never never (did I say never) install a program that some website has asked you to install.  These programs are viruses that slow down your machine.  Toolbars and search engines look harmless enough, but they also slow down your machine.  They can be deleted in the Programs folder on any operating system.

5. Delete extra tool bars and add-ons.  I’ve seen people’s internet programs where half the screen was taken up by toolbars.  Every time they installed a program, the program would install a toolbar.  Everything you add like that adds more work for the program or browser, and will slow it down.

The internet is the most useful tool for finding out how to maintain your computer.  For example, to learn how to maintain your internet explorer browser, type something like “how to delete extra tool bars and add-ons from internet explorer” and several web sites will come up with instructions.  (Be sure not to install a program promising to fix everything.  You can do it.)

 

 

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