How to keep your PC fighting fit

How to keep your PC fighting fit
Acomputer is quite like a car in some ways. If you don’t tune up periodically, it might not run as smoothly as it used to. Fortunately, unlike with a car, it is relatively easy to do a regular ‘servicing’ of your PC. Some sensible precautions coupled with the right tools can go a long way in keeping your system fighting fit.

No matter how careful you are, you’ll find that your computer slows down—appreciably or not—over time. This happens because it tends to accumulate junk, such as cache files, temporary files, unused programmes, most-recently-used lists, deleted items and more. Not all of these are bad things—they help us access our preferred settings and commonly used files and folders more easily—but they do over time have an effect on performance. Staying on top of PC performance is not hard. Here are four simple things you can do to keep your Windows computer on its toes.

Treat your system well

Prevention is better than cure—this goes for machines too. Keeping your software, including antivirus and other security applications, updated means that it will be that much harder for malware to mess things up. Even simple things like clearing out the browser cache (look for the ‘delete private data option’ in your browser) and emptying the recycle bin help to reduce junk on your computer. Regular back ups and scans are also recommended.

Use built-in tools

Windows comes with almost a dozen built-in system utilities that perform functions ranging from defragging and cleaning the hard disk to memory diagnostics and resource monitoring. Most of these can be accessed from the start menu or the control Panel. It’s also a good idea to fire up msconfig and review the list of applications that start when booting. Uncheck anything you don’t want. It helps to take the time and familiarise yourself with your operating system. If you’re having trouble with the shift to Windows 8, Techradar.com/news/software/operating-systems/windows-8-what-you-ll-need-to-relearn-1085293 is a good read.

Avoid unwanted ones

Unwanted applications take up system resources unnecessarily and it is recommended to remove them. This should be done from the ‘programmes and features’ ‘uninstall a programme’ section of the control panel. Right-click the programme and select ‘uninstall’. For even better results, you could use a third-party uninstaller such as Revo Uninstaller. The free version is good enough for everyday use, though Pro (about $40 or Rs 2,500) gets you advanced features.

Use a system optimiser

While it is good to know your way around your PC and how to keep it shipshape, there is a variety of excellent system optimisation tools that can take control of housekeeping tasks. An old favourite is Glary Utilities (Glarysoft.com) which has over 20 optimisation and tune-up tweaks. Glary Utilities has free and pro ($30) versions, and includes a one-click interface that quickly gets rid of unwanted files, problem registry entries and messy start-up items among others. The aptly-named System Mechanic from Iolo.com also does a great job in ‘whip[ping] lethargic PCs back into shape with aplomb’ (PCmag.com). It has tools to boost speed (start-up, internet and general performance); diagnose and repair a host of system-related problems; clean out junk and wipe sensitive data; and even ferret out malicious programs and faulty settings. The full version retails at $40, but a free version with fewer features is also available.

SlimCleaner is another excellent choice, with cleaning and optimisation utilities, including a battery-life boost. It also has free and paid ($35) options. There are plenty of others, though it is recommended to read reviews before installing. zz

(The author is a freelance

technology writer)

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