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Making Your Old Computer New Again

Posted on May 14, 2011
As new technologies and innovations seem to be announced on a daily basis, it doesn’t take that long for a new computer to suddenly seem old and outdated. Some people respond to this situation by purchasing a new PC every year or so, but that line of action can be pretty costly. Computer prices may have come down a lot in the last few years, but they’re still high enough to justify getting every ounce of life that you can out of your own personal computer.
If you want to breathe some new life into an older computer, there are a number of things you can do – both on the hardware and software front. Many of these tasks are actually quite easy and require spending little to no money.
Clean Out the Junk
One of the simplest and least intrusive things you can do to improve the performance of an older computer is to get rid of all of the unnecessary temporary files that are stored in various locations on your hard drive. Not only do these files serve little to no purpose, they eat up valuable hard drive space.
Reclaiming hard drive space is about more than just making room for new files and programs. As your hard drive fills up, it becomes slower, affecting the performance of your entire PC. So, any measure that you can take to get rid of unneeded data on your computer has a lot of benefits.
Every time you visit a web page, add or remove a software program, download files, or perform other routine computer tasks, temporary “junk” files are created on your hard drive. If you haven’t cleared out this junk in a while, you may be quite surprised when you find out exactly how much hard drive space you can reclaim by deleting them.
One problem that you may run into is that these unnecessary temporary files are not always easy to find. Depending on the file type, they could be stored in a number of different locations. To make the process of deleting these files easier, you may want to check into PC cleaning software. These handy tools are quite inexpensive and make the file cleaning process go much smoother and faster.
Remove Unused Software Programs
Since it’s so easy to download and install trial software and freeware from the Internet, you may forget to remove these programs if you decide you don’t like them after all. Take a few minutes and go through the list of all software installed on your computer, and see if there are any applications you never use. If you find any, go ahead and uninstall them. Software applications can be pretty bulky, so going through this process can free up a ton of space.
Transfer Rarely Used Data to Other Storage Devices
As hard drives have grown larger, it’s become commonplace for people to use that space as an archive for files that they “might” want to access again. For example, if you have a digital camera, you may have your entire library of digital photos stored on your computer, but you probably don’t open those files that often. Or, you may be keeping that term paper that was written three years ago just in case you need it again later.
While it is important to save these types of files, you don’t have to keep them on your primary hard drive. You can either burn them to a CD or DVD, or you can invest in another type of storage device. Both USB flash drives and external hard drives are very reasonably priced nowadays. They’re also extremely easy to use – just connect them to your PC via a USB port and you’re done.
Once you copy these files to another storage device, check to make sure that you can access them and then delete them from your hard drive. While you’re making this transfer, it’s a good idea to go ahead and back up those files to another location as well. This way, you’re killing two birds with one stone – reclaiming hard drive space and safeguarding your files in case of accidental loss or deletion.
Defrag Your Hard Drive
After you’ve made your computer’s hard drive as lean as possible by performing all of the other tasks listed here, it’s time to defrag your hard drive. It’s a good idea to wait and defrag your hard drive as a final step, since deleting files can further fragment your system.
The defragging process can take quite a bit of time, especially if you haven’t performed this task recently. So, you may want to wait and do this at a time when you won’t need your PC for a while. Better yet, you can start the process before you go to bed and let it run while you sleep.
Keeping Your Computer in Good Shape
After putting so much effort into getting your older computer in better shape, it’s important to maintain its condition so that you don’t have to go through this whole cycle again in a few months. Proper maintenance only takes a few minutes a week, especially if you’re using software products with built-in automation capabilities.
At the very least, you should clean up temporary files and defrag your hard drive once a week. If you don’t want to be bothered with the details of these tasks or if you’re worried that you’ll forget, invest in software that will do these things for you. Such software products are fairly inexpensive, and most will take care of all the dirty work for you – freeing up time that can be spent actually using your PC rather than maintaining it.

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