Updating Your PC

 Updating Your PC

My son is home visiting for three weeks from college. He came home with new skills. He literally has built a computer for a fraction of what it cost to buy a new PC for less than $600 which is about a third of what it cost us three years ago. I will no longer be purchasing a brand new PC computer. Here is a list of things that you can do to tune up your computer to make it stronger, faster and cheaper on your pocketbook. Now I need to tweak my newly custom built PC to make sure it is faster and powerful.  In this months MaximumPC July 2009 issue there are a few tips that most of us PC users fail to do to keep our systems up and running at optimum speeds.

  • Secure Your Applications-software inspection, it uses it massive database of security holes to monitor all the apps on your machine and let you know which ones need updating. It provides a link to patches and is on constant lookout for new applications security holes as they arise.

  • Clean Your PC-Just what it says, clean your PC because the build up of dust bunnies can slow your computer down and impair performance. A vacumn cleaner can clean the larger case fans and filters. Use a can of compressed air to clean out sensitive areas like your  motherboard and components.

  • Clean Up Windows-Disk cleanup will wipe out the junk you don’t need such as Microsoft Office temp files and old error reports. To run disk cleanup, open my Computer, right click the drive the OS is installed on and click properties. Under the general tab, you’ll see a disk cleanup button. Click it and the app will run an analysis of the machine. You can dump the download program files, temporary internet files, offline web pages, error reporting temporary files, recycle bin, temporary files, web client/publisher temporary files, temporary offline files, offline files, and catalog files for the content indexer with no ill effects.

  • Compress Your Files-As you approach your hard drive capacity of 160-250 GB drive, you will experience a performance problem. Windows has a built in compression tool which will make accessing the files no different than it currently is. Open my computer, right clicking on the drive you want to compress, select properties. Click disk cleanup and make sure compress old files is checked. Click options and specify the age of the files you want windows to compress. Click OK and windows will compress only the files you haven’t accessed in more than six months. Once windows is finish compressing the files, you’ll see the names of those files are colored blue. The name of the untouched files will appear black. You can go from 8 GB to 30 GB free by compressing older files.

  • ShadowCopy-this is included with Windows Vista Ultimate or Business. Home Premium users can pound sand. Microsoft removed your ability to access previous versions. The documents are still backed up if you have System Protection enabled in Microsoft Vista. To make sure it is switched (it is by default) right mouse-click my computer, click the system protection link, then the System Protection tab. There should be a check mark for each drive you want shadowed. To access previous versions of your file, download the free app Shadow Explorer from ShadowExplorer, install it and your done. You can browse through tons of backed of files. A drop down on th eupper left hand side of the window lets you view the backups by date. If you have a problem with all of your files being backed up hidden by Vista, you can erase all of those backups by turning off System Restore, right click my comuter, select Properties, then System Protection, and uncheck the C:drive, or purge all but the last system restore point, go to disk cleanup, select more options, than cleanup and delete what’s unneeded.

  • Scan for Updates-A quick and easy scan for outdated drivers is to run Phoenix Technologies web-based DriverAgent. Click the web scan button on the left. The app will run a quick scan of your drivers against Phoenix database of updated drivers and tell you which devices need updating. You can $pend the dollar$ for the service which will find the updated drivers for you or you can freeload and update the drivers yourself.

  • Search and Destroy Malware-There are several on the market. SuperAntiSpyware , Malwarebytes Anti Malware, and Panda Activescan. For a thorough description

  • Decrap Your Drive-Get rid of all of that junk that comes on your computer after it decompose on your harddrive and waste space. PC Decrapifier will automatically uninstall and delete the majority of trialware applications that are preinstalled on new PCs. Just download the free app, run, it will ask if your PC is new or not. If you select now new, the app will crate a system restore point. Otherwise it will continue to the next step and scan your computer for various trialware apps. You should be presented with a list of apps you can uninstall. Click next and the PC Decrapifier will automatically will remove the junk.

  • Archive Your Files-self explanatory

  • Get S.M.A.R.T-Self Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology, or S.M.A.R.T, which can you warn you if your hard drive is failing before it actually does. Free tools available that relay the message such as SpeedFan, and DiskCheckup but beware it is not for the faint at heart to try this fix. For a simple solution that anyone can try, run HDD Health. Install it, configure it to run at launch, and it will alert you (even by email) if enough S.M.A.R.T errors occur to rate a possible impending drive failure.

  • Revo Uninstaller-Basically uninstall applications that leave behind parts of the app.

  • S3 Fixes-Make your machine energy efficient. Update video drivers directly from the chips manufacturers’ website (Nvidia, ATI, Intel), update the BIOS by making sure your running the latest BIOS from your motherboard maker, and Insomia-you need to look this one up on the Internet.

  • Optimize Your Startup-You know those annoying start ups that run before you can begin to use your computer. Stop those applications from loading and schedule when you want them to actually want the programs to start. Use R2 Studios’s Startup Delayer to handle those pesky start up applications.

  • Ditto-stores hundreds of copy and paste entries as well pasting HTML as text. No Vista support

  • Tweak It-

  • Defrag Your Drive-Vista has an excellent tool for defragmenting your harddrive.

  • Overclock Your GPU-Not for the faint at heart. Read more at RivaTuner

For more information about making your PC more powerful, faster and stretching it a couple of more year check out MaximumPC

All he did was purchase a new box, motherboad, video card, DDR, Ram and power supply. He ripped apart a $1500 HP unit and used what he could from that system. I was able to use my old harddrive from that overprice box purchased less than three years ago. A girl is in business ya’all! I now have another faster system. Now I am going to rebuilt an old laptop laying around collecting dust by replacing the harddrive and CD-Rom.

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