How to Not Buy a New PC  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , ,

'Tis the season for spending. But between the economy and the environment, do you really need a new PC? Here's how to eke a bit more life out of your older machine.

Tis surely the season for spending. But between the economy and the environment, do you really need a new PC this year? Maybe you do, and maybe you don't! Before blowing your budget on a new desktop or notebook PC, take a few minutes to see whether's library of performance enhancers can eke a bit more speed and reliability—a bit more useful life—out of your older machine.

Clean Out the Gunk
...and dust, pet hair, and everything else that accumulates on and in your keyboard, monitor, printer, fans, and CPU case. This is a pretty simple fix that can lead to dramatically improved performance—and it's not too time-consuming, although if you haven't ever physically cleaned out your system, you may be appalled at the accrued filth. Click for our guide to degunking the works.

For both performance and security, make sure your operating system and all applications are up to date. In Windows XP, that means selecting the Windows Update link from Internet Explorer's Tools menu. If you've bitten the bullet and bought into Vista, launch the Windows Update Control Panel to get the latest patches.

It's common knowledge that insufficient RAM and low hard drive space will cause an otherwise healthy computer's performance to lag terribly. But nearly every part of a desktop PC can be upgraded, often cheaply and without much fuss. Be sure to check out our most recent Upgrade Guide for tips on what to upgrade and how to get it done.

Seek Swifter Software
For everyday activities such as checking e-mail and surfing the Web, your choice of application can make a difference. Various speed tests are now a regular part of PCMag's browser reviews, and Windows' native browser is regularly trounced on these tests by alternative browsers such as Firefox, Opera, and Chrome.

Weed Out Useless Running Processes
The story called "Speed Up Windows XP" focuses on pre-Vista slowdowns, such as how to kill memory-hungry excess processes. But Vista users will benefit as well from learning how to use the free Process Explorer utility. Windows is notorious for keeping dozens of arguably unnecessary processes running in the background, sucking up system resources. Show 'em you're the boss by killing the extraneous ones.

Clean Up Your Start-Up
Both Windows XP and Windows Vista include a Start menu folder called Startup, and in it you'll probably see some application shortcuts. If there are programs listed in Startup that you don't want to load at system start-up (which will slow things down, after all), you can simply delete the shortcuts there. Easy peasy.

These days, however, many programs and processes that load at start-up aren't listed in the Start menu. You can still find them in the System Configuration editor (Start | Run | msconfig). And you'll find our instructions on taking advantage of this powerful dialog box here. There's even a video! (full Story)

This entry was posted on Dec 29, 2008 at 12:34 AM and is filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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