Mt. Vernon Register-News

Ask a Geek

February 10, 2009

You probably don't need a new computer...

Every few weeks I hear the same thing from a different person: "My computer is slow, I guess I need a new one. Any advice?"

More often than not, your computer is just as capable and fast as it was the day you bought it. The problem with slowdown usually arises from 'clutter' in your PC. Everything from the mysterious Registry in Windows to files that remain after a program is un-installed will add to your computer taking longer to perform tasks that used to be no major issue.

Just as I find myself having a harder time finding things thanks to my children's clutter, your PC has similar issues digging through the mess on your hard drive. There are several ways to help clean up this muck, but I will only cover a few that are pretty safe and easy for everyone.

My first suggestion is to use the free program Ccleaner (www.ccleaner.com) to remove some of the gum from the internal workings of your system. It will remove garbage from your temporary files (which aren't really temporary) and clean out your registry. I will say use this at your own risk, as there are always chances, but there have been no issues with this program in my experience or reading.

Up next is defragmenting your hard drive. As you use your computer, the drive (like a record player) has a 'head' (needle) that floats across the tracks reading and writing information. To save time and increase speed, it just writes information wherever it happens to be over the tracks. This helps speed, but leaves information scattered everywhere.

By using Windows' built-in defragmenting tool, it will re-organize your files into neat tracks. With all of your information together and in order, your hard drive can access files faster and more easily. This means less slowdown as the head jumps across tracks reading all the pieces of files scattered around.

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