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Upgrade Your Old PC

In today's economic climate most of us are looking for ways to spend less money. So if you have been considering buying a new computer, you may consider upgrading and optimizing the old one instead. Here are a few items to look at:

Clean Up

Programs installed on your PC don't slow it down unless they are running. The problem is that many programs configure Windows to start them each time you turn on your computer. This is how you end up with the little icons in the System Try near the clock.

To cleanup these startup programs, you can use a built-in utility. Click on the Start button. Now click on Run. A small window opens. Type in msconfig and click the ok button. This runs the System Configuration Utility. Now click on the Startup tab at the far right of this utility. This screen lists most of the programs that start when Windows boots up. Simply uncheck the box next to the ones you want to disable. Now click the ok button and the restart button.

If you can disable several items on the startup screen, you can actually make your computer boot and run considerably faster. You can also disable some things on the Services screen, but be sure to check the Hide All Microsoft Services box first. This will hide all the services that your computer needs so you do not disable something critical.

If you do disable something that you want back, just run the msconfig utility again and check the box next to the program you want to enable again.

Memory

If your computer is running Windows XP you should have at least 512MB of memory for best performance. To see how much memory you have, click on the Start button, then right-click the My Computer icon and click on Properties. This screen will tell you which version of Windows you are running, how fast your processor is and how much memory you have. If you have less than 512MB, you should certainly upgrade. If you have less than 1GB (1024MB), you should consider it. If you are not familiar with the internals of a computer you will need help upgrading memory. Memory can be purchased at any computer repair shop.

Hard Drive

The hard drive is where your files are stored. Most computers built in the last five years will have an 80GB drive or larger. Upgrading your hard drive will not get you any performance increase since hard drives have not really gotten much faster. You would only need to upgrade your hard drive if you are running out of space. You can see your hard drive capacity and how much space you have used. Click on Start and then click My Computer. Now right-click on the C: drive and click Properties. Here you see a pie chart that shows your capacity and usage. You want to have at least 3GB of space. Any less and you will be filling it up soon. A computer shop can duplicate the data from your hard drive to a new larger drive so that everything looks the same and you just have a larger drive. You can also simply add an additional drive if your computer has space inside for it.

Cleaning up and upgrading will not make your computer as fast as a new state of the art system, but it is substantially less expensive and can buy your old computer a little more life.

Posted by Charles Swihart on 5/1/2009

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