6 Do-It-Yourself Maintenance Tasks for Improved PC Performance

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computer maintenance techWhether you use the Internet for work or pleasure, nothing is more frustrating than having pages load slowly or not at all. You can have the fastest Internet connection in the world, but if your PC is not maintained on a regular basis, you’re still going to encounter problematic issues.

Rather than having your computer professionally serviced, basic optimization can be completed on your own, regardless of whether you’re a “techie” or not. Also, just about all of these simple tasks can be completed at little to no expense, and in less than a few minutes.

1. Remove Dust

A CPU that is caked with dust can cause serious damage, including a full blown crash. Regardless of where your computer sits, it is going to gather dust. To resolve this, purchase a can of compressed air and remove the side cover from your CPU. Visually inspect the inside, and more than likely you’ll find at least a modest amount of dust build-up. Hold the can five to seven inches away and thoroughly spray the interior of your tower. Make sure you clean the vents, and try to spray as much dust off the fan blades as possible. Once you’re finished, securely replace the side cover.

2. Disk Cleanup

Running this tool on a monthly basis will help free up space on your hard drive, which will make your computer run more efficiently. Among other things, this program will remove the following:

  • Temporary Internet files
  • Windows components you aren’t using
  • Installed programs you no longer use
  • Everything in your Recycle Bin

The process for running this program will vary slightly depending upon which operating system you have, but this is the general procedure:

  1. Press the “Start” button
  2. Select “All Programs”
  3. Select “Accessories”
  4. Go to “System”
  5. Go to “System Tools”
  6. Select “Disk Cleanup”

You then select the drive you want to clean, which will typically be the C file. Follow the command prompts and in a few minutes, your drive should be clean.

3. Disk Defragment

This tool does not free up any space, but it does rearrange the files currently on your hard drive, which will reduce the amount of time it takes programs to load and allow your system to start up faster.

Depending upon how much time has passed since this tool was last run, this process could take a while. I suggest running it right before you go to sleep – it should be finished by the time you wake up. The process for running it is as exactly the same as for “Disc Cleanup,” except you click on “Disc Defragment.”

4. Clear Browsing Data

If you’re experiencing minor issues with your PCs performance after you’ve completed these items, you may need to clear your browsing data, including your cache. You also want to delete “cookies” from time to time. Cookies are small computer files that get stored on your unit via daily Internet surfing. The process for clearing browsing data and deleting cookies varies greatly depending upon which browser you use, but a simple Internet search should tell you exactly where you need to go.

5. Clean Your Desktop

If your computer has been running more slowly lately, one great place to look to solve the problem is your Windows desktop. If you have an abundance of files sitting there, this will bog down your computer, as your operating system uses memory for these files every time you start your computer.

Limit what you keep on your desktop to only the files and programs that you most frequently use. Everything else should either be deleted or stored in a proper file.

6. Install More Memory

Additional memory installation is not for the faint of heart, although it really isn’t that difficult. Upgrading the memory in your PC is a great way to improve performance and make it run faster.

Bring your PC’s model number to your local computer retailer to find exactly which type and amount of memory is compatible for your computer. You can ask for advice on how to install it, or research the topic online. Basically, this task simply involves inserting a new memory stick into a memory slot located inside your tower. Once you’re finished, check your system to make sure your computer recognizes the new memory. To do this, go to “Start,” “Control Panel,” and “System Information.”

Final Thoughts

If you don’t mind spending the extra money, there are optimization programs that will perform several of these functions for you. However, this industry is glutted with programs that aren’t any good, and many will actually cause damage to your computer. So, for peace of mind, you may want to handle these tasks yourself. If you want to purchase a program, research it thoroughly online for reviews before making your final decision.

What ways can you think of to improve your computer’s performance?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethy @ Credit Karma 2012/05/09 at 1:14 pm

Nice tips! For both my work and home computers, I’ll admit that I forget about these simple performance improvements from time to time. Hm… time to defrag, methinks.

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Jerry 2012/06/25 at 4:21 am

This is great advice and insurance that you’ll keep your PC running longer. I’ve done some of these things and I’ve had my PC for years and it’s still running great. Anything that leads to savings is great in my book!

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Josh @ Live Well Simply 2012/07/13 at 3:10 pm

I work part-time as a computer repair technician and it is incredible how dirty some customers’ desktop computers are. Most never clean them out and they die a slow death, choked in dust and caked in cobwebs (the computers, not the people). :)

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Tony @ A Young Investor 2012/07/26 at 9:43 am

I remember joining a club in high school where we fixed and cleaned used computers. Needless to say, I tried their methods at home, and fried my PC. Never put a vacuum close to the electricity supply.

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Spedie 2012/08/02 at 9:13 pm

I have been using cr*p cleaner for years. It has been harmless. Use the defaults. http://www.ccleaner.com – this helps a lot but I still recommend the five steps listed.

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John 2012/12/08 at 12:39 pm

Great tips here! I can see how these tips can also save people some serious money – instead of going out and buying a computer, they can just upgrade and clean up their old one! Now that, is a huge money saver! Thanks!

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Kate 2013/03/18 at 1:18 pm

Remove dust – and cat hair. LOL I have a small artist’s brush that I use to brush off the front air vents on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure my keyboard will never be cat hair free.
Thanks for the list of things to do in Disk Cleanup because I usually just stare at the menu and wonder what’s safe for a non-geek to even attempt to do.

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