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Sep 21

Get more life out of your laptop – software edition

Run a slicker, faster machine

Faster for free

This is the start of a series about extending the life of your PC, be it laptop or desktop. The idea is to show you how to breathe new life into a machine that you are on the verge of replacing, with the intention of saving you money. To that end, all of the program and tips here are free to use or implement.

So why is your computer running slow?

A good analogy is to consider the difference between normal cars and racing cars.

Essentially the same machine, it’s just that the latter has had everything unnecessary stripped from it to reduce weight. Certainly, they tweak the engines and breaks, and that will be the hardware we’ll look at later. But today, we are going to look at reducing the bloat.

Hard drive

The first thing to look at, and the easiest to fix, is your hard drive. If it is crammed full, then your computer will struggle to cope. As a rule of thumb, try to have the same amount of spare space on your hard drive as you do in your RAM, so for a 2GB machine have 2GB of spare space on your hard drive and so on.

First – document control.

Delete unnecessary files, duplicates and older versions of work, and back up anything you need for records, but not on your machine for regular access.

Next, if you’re running XP (and seriously, you shouldn’t be) then run a disk clean-up and defrag, in that order.

Clean-up

  1. Open My Computer.
  2. Right-click C-drive, and then click Properties.
  3. On the ‘General’ tab, click ‘Disk Cleanup’.

It should only take a couple of minutes. Next, on the same Properties screen -

  1. Select the Tools tab.
  2. Click Defragment Now.
  3. Click Defragment on the next screen.

This takes a bit longer than a cleanup, but should help. It’s actually pretty pointless doing this on any newer versions (Vista, W7), and even though you can get other programs that do the same, the built in function works fine.

Virus and malware checks.

Run a scan, preferably two, sequentially. If there are options, go for a full scan rather than a quick scan. Follow the recommended actions to get rid of anything that comes up.

I’d recommend:

 

Updates

Your operating systems and all your programs need updating. I know that those pop ups are annoying, reminding you to update  this and that, but they matter. The close security loopholes, fix bugs, and generally make sure that they run as they should. This includes your service packs, and Microsoft have a section dedicated to it here.

To check what other programs need updating, this is a useful little tool, updatechecker  as is SUMo. So much easier than going through every program and doing them individually!

Get rid of unnecessary programs

Of course, some of these programs you just won’t need anymore. So you’ll want to get rid of them. The best tool for this is Revo Uninstaller. The free version will do fine, or you could try the 30 day free trial. Yes, you could use the built in ‘Add and Remove programs’ built into your Windows OS, but this version is a lot more thorough.

Clean up software

CCleaner.  Don’t ask what the first C stands for.

CCleaner gets rid of a host of temp files, cookies, and more. Take some time to go through the options and make sure to deselect the options you want to keep, such as cookies for websites that might have saved your log in details. It will also get rid of recently used URL, website addresses, so make sure you bookmark any favourites first.

There is a registry option as well, best to leave this alone for now.

Privazer

Cleans your machine, very simple, very effective.

Auslogics registry cleaner

Actually says on the software – Experience Required: Novice User.

A safe way to clean your machine and make sure you delete any critical items.

Final touch

Hopefully, your machine will be running faster now. However, if you still find the boot up slow and frustrating, perhaps you need some anti-frustration software. That’s how Soluto brands itself.

Install the software and reboot your computer. Soluto will monitor all the programs that start up when you turn on your computer. It then displays three categories of programs, the first being “No-brainer”  These are programs you can select to either not start up when your computer does, or start up when the machine is idle. The next is “Potentially removable.” It advises you to leave most of these alone, but some of these should be obvious that you can remove. Again, trust your experience before playing with these. The third category, by far the largest, are those you should leave alone.

There is also a web browser option, which should speed up your internet experience!

So there you have it – a quick guide to cleaning and speeding up your machine as an alternative to buying a new one!

Let us know if there are any other options you think should be included! Remember, they must be free!