Technology changes constantly, and if you’re not careful, your existing PC or laptop could become obsolete before it’s time.
With PC and laptop sales ranging from $500 to $700 on average, and up to $1500 for a Mac, the cost of an upgrade can be significant.
But what if you didn’t have to throw out your existing computer?
The good news is, you might not have to. Here are 9 computer maintenance tips you can use to keep your computer running for longer.
1. Clean Any Dust or Grime
Like every other item in your household, your computer isn’t immune to the scourge of dust and grime that can build up over time. That’s why it’s important to add cleaning to your computer maintenance checklist.
Dust plays a part in clogging up fans and reducing the effectiveness of the performance of your computer. A hot PC can deteriorate quickly, so it’s important to regularly clear out any fans or air vent holes.
Grim can build up elsewhere, too. Give your keyboards and mice a wipe down to stop them becoming frustratingly ineffective over time. Plus, they’ll look nicer!
2. Run Cleanup Software
It isn’t just the physical clutter you have to think about. The maintenance of a computer relies even more on keeping your machine free of file clutter that could be slowing it down.
Cleanup software can help you determine any problems that need fixing on your machine. Windows computers, for instance, come with the inbuilt Windows Disk Cleanup software that can clean your PC of any unnecessary files.
If you’re looking for an even deeper clean, optimization software like CC Cleaner will run a PC performance audit and fix any problems for you automatically.
Take a look at this list of the best PC optimization software you can use on your computer to help you get started.
3. Check for Malware and Viruses
You can’t always discount malicious reasons for a PC slowing down and seeming ineffective. If you’re looking into how to take care of your PC, you should never forget about the risk of damage due to malware and viruses.
Certain types of malware, like ransomware, won’t hide from you but other malware will. If you notice your PC suddenly slowing down, especially your internet connection, it could be a sign of an infection.
Install and run anti-malware and anti-virus software on a regular basis to make sure you avoid this issue. You can find a list of potential anti-virus software to install here.
Still not sure whether your machine is infected with malware or viruses? Check out these 10 warning signs to help you allay or confirm your suspicions.
4. Defragment Your Drives
Thanks to the way Windows stores and accesses data, over time your files can become ‘fragmented’. You won’t notice it when you look through your files, but they won’t be saved in an efficient order on your hard drive.
This can cause slowdowns and reduce the amount of storage you have available to use, so it’s worth running the disk defragmenter tool that’s provided with Windows.
One word of warning, however.
You should only use the disk defragmenter if you have a traditional hard drive. If you’re running a solid state drive (SSD), the disk defragmenter is unnecessary and could actually damage your drive over the long term.
5. Remove Unnecessary Software
Part of your regular maintenance of computer hardware and software should focus, especially, on the software.
And by software maintenance, we mean a good, old-fashioned clear out. Old, outdated or unused software doesn’t do anything but fill up your storage if it isn’t being used.
Every few months, go through your list of software and uninstall anything you don’t need or want. This will give you the space you need to install other software you might use in the future.
6. Install a Solid State Drive
One of the most important changes you should make to help your computer last longer is to swap out your traditional hard drive for a solid state drive, or SSD.
Solid state drives don’t rely on a spinning platter to access your data. It’s flash memory – similar to an SD card – so both reading the device and writing to it is much faster.
It’ll boot up quicker, too. A PC with an SSD should boot up in a matter of seconds, meaning you won’t be left frustrated with any slowdowns. If you’re looking for a boost of longevity, installing an SSD should be at the top of your checklist.
Don’t take out word for it. Hard drive manufacturer Crucial has a list of the pros and cons of a solid state drive versus a more traditional hard drive here.
7. Install Additional RAM
We’ve already mentioned the fast-paced change that comes with technology, but it doesn’t mean an old computer can’t learn a few new tricks. We’ve recommended SSDs, but there’s another hardware upgrade you could perform to help your machine last longer.
Adding more RAM (random access memory) to your computer could give it increased performance as you work on intensive tasks.
It’ll allow you to have more programs open at the same time without slowdowns, making it a great addition alongside an SSD for increased performance.
8. Check Temperatures and Install Additional Cooling
Our warning about the dangers of dust should still be fresh in your mind, but dust isn’t the only reason for a computer losing its cool.
Software like SpeedFan can help you check your computer temperature. If any part of your computer is running too hot, SpeedFan will usually display a little fire symbol.
During the heaviest usage, ideal temperatures for your computer should be around 50 to 60 degrees Celcius. Anything above that and your computer could burn out – quite literally – much sooner than you think.
Dust plays its part, but you might find that a fan has simply lost its effectiveness. Where possible, install additional cooling and reapply thermal paste to critical components like your central processing unit.
9. Reinstall or Reset the Operating System
Our last, and rather drastic, recommendation is one of the types of computer maintenance that can leave the average user concerned, but if all else fails, it’s a good option.
Simply reinstalling your operating system can make a computer seem fresh again. All the cleaning and tune-up software in the world can’t bring you the fresh speed that a reinstall can offer.
In many cases, you won’t even need the installation disks. Windows 10 allows you to perform a ‘reset’, similar to a full reinstall, that will return your installation to a fresh state.
Mac OS offers a similar procedure, allowing you to erase and reset your installation using the Disk Utility software in recovery mode.
Regular Computer Maintenance Will Keep Your System Working for Longer
No computer is going to last forever. Eventually, your machine will become too old to be much use, day to day.
But that day doesn’t have to be today. These computer maintenance tips should help to breathe new life into your computer and give you the chance to save you the immediate cost of hundreds of dollars on an upgrade.
With regular maintenance and component upgrades, especially a solid state drive, you should be able to keep your computer working for a lot longer.
Looking for professional help? Contact us for advice on maintenance and upgrade services for your computer.