Spring Cleaning

How’s your PC doing? Does it feel like you may have purchased it back when Canadian teams were still winning the Stanley Cup? 

Our computers do tend to get slower as they get older. This is for a variety of reasons, but typically there are three main ones. 1. Your computer software as it updates typically requires increasing amounts of resources. And by resources, I mean more memory and more hard drive space. 2. Your computer is running too much stuff. Lots of background applications are the culprit. 3. You have malware.

Let’s talk about cleaning this up and breathing some new life into your PC. There are two good reasons why we want to do this. Getting a longer life out of your technology and not replacing it is as green as you can get. Every year that goes by before you replace your technology means you get more for your money when you replace it.

Before you do anything backup your computer and create a restore point in your computer. To create a restore point open Explorer and right-click on This PC. Choose Properties. Choose System protection. Click Create a restore point right now... Give it a useful description like “Before cleaning” so you’ll know which one to go back to if you have a problem.

The solution to the resource problem is to give your computer more or faster resources. Often the best way to speed up your computer is to give it more RAM. Open Explorer and right-click on This PC. Choose Properties. Look for the line that says Installed memory (RAM). If it says anything less than 8 GB you need to upgrade. If it’s less than 16 GB there’s a good chance more RAM will help somewhat. Over 16 GB and increasing it probably won’t help much.

The process of replacing RAM is too long for this column but almost any tech guy or gal can do this for you for the cost of the RAM plus a nominal fee.

If you’re still running an old-style hard disk, upgrading to a Solid State Drive (SSD) will speed up your computer. First, check and see what kind of drive you have. In the Windows search bar, probably located on the bottom left of your screen, type in ‘defragment’ and choose Defragment and Optimize Drives. Your hard drives should be listed, and the media type will tell you if it’s an SSD. If not, you can get a tech person to install an SSD and move your operating system on to it. This will make everything on your computer snappier.

If you do not have an SSD then while you have the defragger open you can go ahead and defragment the drive. There’s almost no value in doing this for SSDs but for older drives, it can help a bit.

Let’s turn off unneeded background apps. In the Windows search bar type in ‘background’ and choose Background apps. Turn off any that don’t need to run in the background. There are some things like music and WiFi that need to run in the background, but most applications don’t. Turn off any you think aren’t needed. You can always turn them back on later if you discover they need to be on.

It’s also not a bad idea to go through and uninstall any applications you don’t need. In the Windows search bar type in ‘add’ and choose Add or Remove Programs. Click on any programs you don’t use and choose Uninstall.

Finally, Let’s check for malware. I like Malwarebytes. They have a free for personal use version. It works just fine. Download it from https://malwarebytes.com/ After it’s installed choose Scan. It’ll update itself and scan your computer for malware. It’s very thorough and can take a while.

All this can perk up an old computer for a while.

One last word on registry optimization programs, don’t bother. Windows does a fine job of optimizing already and with the risk that something will go amiss, the cost/benefit just isn’t there.

Happy Computing.