Speeding up your computer from the inside out
There are dozens of commercials and web advertisements every day for software claiming to significantly speed up your computer. These companies, such as MyCleanPC, may end up charging hundreds of dollars to “fix problems” on your computer. Unfortunately, more often than not they are just scams that make your computer more vulnerable to malware and junk than they were before. However, there are many free or fairly cheap software and hardware options that will drastically improve the performance of your Mac or PC.
CCleaner is a free and extremely powerful program for ridding your machine of unwanted junk. This program will clear-up extra space on your hard drive for other files, and will speed up many tasks. You can download CCleaner for Mac or PC at piriform.com/ccleaner. Once installed, you can select the types of data that you want to clear out, such as your recycle bin, Internet history, and browser cache and click “Run Cleaner.” If it is your first time running this program, it may take a minute or two to delete thousands of junk files. On a PC, you can also clean your registry (a process that is unneeded for Mac computers). You can select all of these check boxes and click “Scan for Issues.” Once it has found all of the errors, click “Fix Selected Issues…” You do not have to back up the registry in most cases. It is best to make a habit of running CCleaner once every few days.
Another great free program for PC is Malwarebytes. This is a free virus and malware scanning software that can cure major issues and performance problems on your machine. You can download this program at malwarebytes.org. The free version of this software will be more than enough for most users. However, because Mac computers do not often get malware or viruses, virus software is usually unneeded.
The built-in tools in the Windows operating system can play a part in increasing the performance of your PC as well. Disk Defragmenter will sort the files on your hard drive disk into places that will make them easier to access, allowing your computer to start up faster and your programs to open more quickly. Disk Cleanup is another built-in tool that will clean out junk files. It is especially helpful for getting rid of any files that CCleaner might have left behind.
RAM, or random access memory, is based in small chips inside of your machine that are most likely easily accessible and easily replaceable. For most people, 2GB of RAM is plenty to run the majority of the programs used on a daily basis. However, for more intensive programs like video or music editing software, or creative suites like Adobe CS, the extra memory can be necessary. These chips vary in size and speed, so it is best to know for sure what chips you need before buying anything. Crucial.com has an online scanner that will check what RAM you need and allow you to buy it straight from their site. Instructions vary as to how to replace the RAM in your computer, so make sure to do a quick search for tutorials before trying anything.
Solid state drives (SSDs) are a new type of hard drive that have no moving parts and are based solely on flash storage, the same type of storage used in most mobile devices and flash drives. These hard drives can cut start-up and file-transfer times in half as compared to standard HDDs. These disks can be somewhat expensive, usually around $0.50/GB and it takes a lot of work to transfer your files and software from one hard drive to another, but the benefits are worth the extra cost and effort. Crucial sells SSDs as well, along with retail stores such as Best Buy.
Kevin Hollerbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.