It's Spring: Time to Clean Up Your Technology

A moment arises in the life of every PC when obsolescence beckons. Little tasks that once were completed in the blink of an eye now seem to grind on long enough for an actual snooze. The programs you use every day become slower and slower, and the machine becomes crankier and crankier.Your computer is just getting old, you say. It’s the circle of life. Or is it?

In fact, many people don’t realize that PC machinery does not necessarily degrade over time. Your hard drive and other hardware are probably humming along just fine. What’s changed is that fragmented programs, unused applications and unwanted code are probably gumming up the works.

It’s time for some spring cleaning. Here’s how to do it.

Kill Unused Applications

Step one is to stop the several dozen unused programs that are running in the background of your PC right now. Hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete and scan the list for anything that looks unimportant. Close these one by one and check for a performance bump.

For a longer-lasting fix, head over to the Control Panel and check your master list of installed software. Chances are, you’ll discover several programs with no discernible purpose. These may have installed alongside the software you actually use; feel free to kill them with impunity. (Go to Start > Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features > Uninstall a Program.)

Exterminate the Bugs

Viruses and malware may be part of the problem as well, especially for older PCs, which have not always been protected by a good antivirus program. These won’t show up through conventional channels, so some dedicated software will be required to ferret them out. Download a few good virus-scanning applications and run them all.

Beware Overextension

Browsers come with their own unique source of ballast: extensions. These little add-ons work in tandem with your browser, offering special functions such as photo-zooming and ad-blocking. Once they start to pile up, however, extensions can slow your favorite websites under the burden of all that extra processing. The solution? Disable or uninstall your extensions one by one until you locate the culprit (or culprits).

Make Your PC Whole

Fragmentation can affect everything your PC does as well. As your data is saved over time, it gets slotted all over the hard drive. Soon your programs have to work increasingly hard to cull the bits they need from the bytes they don’t. Defragmentation is the answer. Go to Windows Button > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter and run a scan. This could take a while. Consider coffee.

Good luck with your spring cleaning. We're sure you’ll find it well worth the effort!

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