Unless you just bought a new PC, then your PC’s glory days are far behind it.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. PCs aren’t like people: their hardware doesn’t break down or age like our skin cells do. There’s no reason why your PC can’t perform at – or near – its original performance levels.
Ready to lose that baby fat and get your PC back in fighting shape? Here are some easy ways to restore your computer to its glory days:
Back it up, back it up
Just like Beenie Man once said, back it up, back it up.
Beenie Man was talking about butts, not PCs, but the lesson remains the same. Before you start really messing around with your PC, back it up.
You can back up your PC in a few different ways. The easiest way is to just transfer all your important files, songs, videos, and photos to cloud storage or an external hard drive.
Alternatively, there are plenty of good backup software programs out there – including Windows Backup – which save all your settings, software, etc.
If you’re using an old PC and don’t really care about your old software, then I recommend the first option. If you plan on using your software and PC for the near future, then you’ll want to perform a proper backup.
For most people, the Windows backup and restore program will work fine. Just open your Start menu search bar and type in “Backup” then click “Backup and restore”.
Now that you’ve backed up everything that’s important on your PC, it’s time to speed it up.
Perform a full antivirus scan
Or, they may have no virus and malware problems. In any case, you don’t know until you perform a scan. Scan your entire hard drive (and any attached hard drives or partitions) and see what comes up.
Once you’ve scanned for viruses, scan even deeper using PC Cleaner Pro. PC Cleaner Pro will identify registry problems and many other errors that may not be detected by antivirus programs.
Remove clutter and unnecessary “file bloat” from your system
For this step, you can use software like CCleaner or a built-in Windows tool like Disk Cleanup. Both software perform the same basic task, although CCleaner tends to go a bit deeper.
First, open your Start menu and type in Disk Cleanup and click on the tool shortcut that pops up. Check off all the files you want to clean or just leave it at the default settings.
Once you’ve chosen all the files you want to delete, click “OK” to remove those files and instantly clean up your PC.
If you want to go even deeper, perform a scan with CCleaner and see if it can find any “junk files” you may have missed during your initial scan. You may be surprised by how much junk is on your hard drive!
Whether you use Disk Cleanup or CCleaner, deleting these files won’t impact any of your important documents. Instead, the only major thing you’ll notice is a performance boost and more hard drive space than ever before.
I’ve cleaned out 25GB or more of junk with a single CCleaner scan. Even if you have a lot of hard drive space, it’s important to clean up from time to time.
Improve startup times
One of the most annoying parts about old PCs is how long they take to start up. Windows 8 had many flaws, but “slow startup time” was not one of those flaws. Windows 8 PCs boot up extremely quickly.
But you can always make your Windows 8 PC or Windows 7 PC (or older Windows PC) boot faster. To do that, follow the steps below:
For Windows 7:
Step 1) Open the Start menu and type in msconfig then press enter
Step 2) A System Configuration box will pop up. Click on the “Startup” tab and uncheck the boxes beside any programs you no longer need to boot. If you’re unsure what a program does, search Google for its name and see what pops up.
Step 3) Press “Apply” and then “OK” to apply your changes.
For Windows XP:
Step 1) Open the Start menu and click “Run”
Step 2) Type in msconfig and press Enter
Step 3) This will launch the System Configuration Utility. Click on the Startup tab. Then, uncheck the boxes beside any programs you no longer want to launch.
For Windows 8:
Step 1) Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the System Configuration box
Step 2) Go to the Startup tab
Step 3) Uncheck the boxes beside any programs you don’t want to launch, then click “Apply” and “OK” to apply those changes.
No matter which OS you’re using, this can have a significant effect on startup speeds. I’ve noticed 10 to 15 second boosts after cleaning up a bunch of junk programs.
Uninstall old software
Next, you’re going to want to uninstall old software and games you no longer use. Old applications can clog up your startup queue and take up huge amounts of space on your hard drive.
You can uninstall old software by going to the Start menu and typing in “Uninstall a program”.
In Windows XP, you’ll need to go to Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs
Then, scroll through the list and uninstall any programs you no longer use.
Consider a hardware upgrade
At this point, you’ve done all of the major performance improvements on the software side of things. But it’s time to consider a hardware upgrade: because that’s where you’ll really notice a performance boost.
The best performance upgrades include:
-Installing an SSD and moving your OS, PC games, or software onto it
-Installing an extra stick of RAM
If you go even further – and buy a new processor – then you’ll likely need a new motherboard as well, which might mean you need a new case, and at that point, you’re basically buying a new PC. This is an upgrade article, not a replacement article.
So stick to RAM upgrades and SSD upgrades – they’re extremely noticeable and cheap. Doubling your RAM from 4GB to 8GB shouldn’t cost more than $50 to $100, and 100GB+ SSDs can be found for between $100 and $200.
Remove duplicate files from your hard drive
AusLogics offers a duplicate file finder app which is surprisingly good at finding duplicate files on your PC. You can often eliminate 1GB or more of duplicate files after a single scan. On older PCs with lots of media, you can eliminate 10GB or 20GB or more of duplicate files.
Many of my duplicate files are songs or photos I have in multiple spots on my hard drive. I moved my iTunes folder, for example, but forgot to delete my old iTunes library after transferring songs over.
You can download the free duplicate file finder here.
Hose down your PC outside
Okay, don’t literally hose down your PC. But for this step, you’re going to want to physically clean your system inside and out.
Use eyeglass cleaner or screen cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth to clean your screen.
Next, you’ll need a canister of compressed air. Power down your PC and take it to a well-ventilated location – like outdoors. Then, open your case (or, if you’re using your laptop, aim down the ports and vents). Spray the compressed air anywhere you see dust or other buildup. This can be gross – especially if you don’t do this very often. Don’t forget to stop every once in a while to take a deep breath away from the haze of dead skin cells and cat fur.
When to say goodbye
If you’ve performed all of the steps listed above and your PC is still running at a snail’s pace, then it may be time to say goodbye to your old friend.
Once you’ve made the decision to upgrade or build a new PC, you’ll want to manually deactivate any licensed programs on your old computer – like Adobe software suites or Microsoft Office. This effectively renews your old license key – which you’ll need for reinstalling on your next PC.
This isn’t always necessary for Microsoft products – which typically allow 3 to 5 installs. But Adobe is stricter.
Meanwhile, if you use platforms like Steam, then you’ll want to backup your saved games and other in-game data. To do that, open Steam and look in the upper left-hand corner, then click Backup and Restore Games and follow the prompts.
Did you back up your important software, your iTunes/music library, your Steam library, and any important photos or videos? If so, then it’s time to say goodbye to your computer for the final time and press that power button. Goodnight, sweet prince.