Instant Answers

How can I extend the life of my aging computer?

How can I extend the life of my aging computer?

These devices and strategies will bring new life to your old reliable:

Be a Dust Buster
If you have a PC, open up the computer tower where the cooling fans live, and use a can of air ($3 to $10) to clear the field of the dust bunnies that suffocate your faithful workhorse. By eliminating dust, you’ll minimize the heat that can give your computer a premature heart attack.

Empty the Trunk on Your Hard Drive
Delete all the junk you don’t need anymore: dead programs, obsolete files … stuff you know you’ll never need or use again. Remember to back them up first, just in case. Make yourself some room on the hard drive. For PCs? Defragment your hard drive. This is a Windows CHKDSK/F utility you can download and run to clean up any file fragments and lock out any bad sectors.

Lose the Buggy Browsers
Install the free Firefox web browser, and the AVG antivirus program, which is also free. You may have to search for the link, where you’ll find the ZoneAlarm -- a free firewall program. Migrate from Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook: These programs are buggy, bloated and slow.

Clean out Your Ware-house
Now it’s time to choose between adware, malware and spyware -- they don’t just cause annoying pop-ups and a blue screen of death, they also take up massive resources that can damage the physical hardware from being overworked. Yes, they can help you identify and weed out unwanted spyware, but doubling and tripling up on these antivirus programs can make your computer slower as it indexes, searches through and deals with all the extra stuff. Pick one and cut the other(s) loose.

Or, Look Some-ware Else
How? Get Ad-Aware by Lavasoft. Not only is it free, but it also regularly finds malware that the big names, such as Norton and McAfee, cannot detect. If you’re heavily infected, I recommended running this program a second time after booting up in safe mode.

Lighten Your Computer’s Load
Again, if you’re a PC guy, you should also get Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender. Not only is Essentials a free malware protection program, but it’s also lightweight and won’t put additional stress on your hard drive. Rather than shell out cash, get this program, which provides free Firewall protection as the first line of defense against future attacks.

Clean up Your Act, Dude
Get CCLEANER by Piriform. Also free, this excellent utility cleans up temporary files you didn’t know existed. It scrubs all the other recycle-bin stuff and old, unused registry entries that slow your boot times and place you on the FBI watched list.

About the Expert

Web developer, blog author and computer guru Marc Aarons relieves computer headaches at Uncomplicating Mobile Broadband.