6 Tips to Keep Your Computer Running Optimally

KTLA’s Tech Reporter Rich DeMuro recently discussed on camera with iolo engineer Damian Giannunzio easy steps you can take to increase your computer’s speed and stability by separately targeting:

  • software
  • files and data
  • disk fragmentation
  • the hardware itself

And if you’re not particularly keen to expend the effort all by yourself, System Mechanic® has many automatic and manual features to help clean, stabilize and accelerate your system for you.

Tip 1: Target Unwanted Software

In addition to programs you use regularly, chances are there are a number of completely neglected add-ons that may have come pre-installed on your computer or “piggybacked” onto programs you did install.

For a faster PC, it’s an excellent idea to remove unneeded programs in order to:

  • free up hard drive space
  • stay streamlined and organized
  • prevent freezes and crashes when duplicates compete for system resources

You can use the Add or Remove Programs function in the Windows Control Panel to review a list of programs and uninstall them from this screen.

Making informed choices is important here, however. To help ensure you do not erroneously remove a needed program, System Mechanic has two features that can:

  • make it easy to decide what’s safe to uninstall
  • prevent items from automatically launching when your PC boots

CRUDD Remover quickly scans your drive to identify redundant programs on your PC. For example, many people find they do not need more than one media player, and that having several can be a nuisance. CRUDD Remover lists redundant programs by function, and indicates whether or not they pose any threat to the stability of your system.

System Mechanic’s Startup Optimizer identifies unnecessary programs that may be automatically launching themselves at startup, negatively impacting overall boot time and further bogging down system resources once you’re up and running.

Tip 2: Keep Useful Programs Useful

It’s a very good idea to install software updates for the programs you do use. This can:

  • improve speed and responsiveness
  • increase security

After all, programs evolve to counteract ever-evolving threats, so you don’t want to get left behind. System Mechanic’s Security Optimizer goes actively looking for the latest Windows patches and installs them to help protect your PC from old security flaws that may have developed over time.

Another step to gain better overall performance and security is to make sure your hardware drivers are up to date. Designated Drivers will help you easily obtain Microsoft’s existing driver updates, further increasing OS security, stability and performance.

Tip 3: Remove Old Files and Clutter

Your PC will slow down over time in part because of the sheer number of documents, photos, media and other files that accumulate, much of which you probably won’t miss at all.

Periodically go through your computer manually, looking for easy targets for deletion. These may include:

  • documents that haven’t been modified for over a year
  • silly email forwards and pictures that your friends may have sent
  • fliers for events that have long passed, and so on

System Mechanic’s Duplicate File Inspector is a useful tool that finds duplicate files that slow things down by:

  • monopolizing precious drive space
  • causing software conflicts that crash or confuse the OS

Use the Find Duplicate Files wizard within this tool to view a list of these files and delete those you do not want.

You can also set up System Mechanic’s Incinerator® feature to work with your Recycle Bin to be sure your data is securely and completely wiped from your drive.

Junk File Finder can help you ferret out obsolete and unwanted files by searching for files with criteria you dictate.

Once you’ve manually chosen to remove a certain number of unneeded files, let System Mechanic automatically tidy up your system further by running PC Cleanup®, which automatically removes temporary files and other useless data that clutter your drive and slow things down over time.

And finally, Privacy Cleaner empties your Internet browser cache and clears your history, junk Internet files and cookies that naturally with repeated web browser use, contributing to sluggish system behavior.

Tip 4: Backup Important Files

Routine file backup is the important flipside to obsolete-file deletion.

File backup establishes your important data in more than one location, should something adverse occur with your primary storage environment.

It is also useful if, in Tip 3, you are not quite sure what older projects you can safely purge and what you may later need; archiving the files elsewhere will still free up space on your main drive.

  • Backup your files every three months to an external drive (massive amounts of storage has never been cheaper)
  • There are also many cloud storage options available, including Microsoft One Drive (15 GB free storage), Google Drive (15 GB free storage), and Dropbox (2 GB free storage)
  • Cloud backup usually occurs automatically, but usually requires some curating since the service can’t know what is important to you

Tip 5: Defragment Your HDD

Regular hard disk defragmenting is a vital step that will help you attain greater system speed immediately.

  • Your hard drive is by far the slowest moving part of your system’s major components. Making sure it is as stable and efficient as possible is paramount to optimizing for speed
  • Your hard drive benefits when extraneous movement is eliminated

These are accomplished by System Mechanic with two proprietary approaches.

Program Accelerator®:

  • Defragments the hard disk and the data files written to it
  • Next, patent-pending technology realigns related program files such as Word templates and add-ons, grouping them intelligently with each other for the very fastest access

Working in tandem with this powerful tool, AcceleWrite:

  • Speeds up file writing to disk in real time, as disk I/O is happening, therefore preventing a lot of the fragmentation that would otherwise need to be eliminated later with a traditional defragmenting tool
  • Sends data to the disk in contiguous batches rather than in separated fragments that write tediously and are slower to recall later

The result of this combined defrag and prefrag technology is much faster application launches and file loading times, as well as decreased system boot time.

Tip 6: Don’t Skip Hardware Maintenance

The final phase of any thorough PC maintenance ritual is to remove dirt and dust from hardware components.

Dust-clogged fans are a big contributor to overheating, which in turn can be responsible for system crashes or permanent damage to the motherboard, hard disk and other vital components.

  • First, completely power down your computer and disconnect the power cable
  • Begin removing dirt and debris by applying canned compressed air, such as Dust-Off®, to any area of your computer’s casing that visibly needs it. The fans and vents will require the most attention
  • Next, dampen a chamois (or “shammy”) cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently wipe down all surfaces. Never spray liquid directly into your system
  • It helps to start high and work lower so dust and dirt falls down into areas you haven’t cleaned yet. Include keyboard, mouse and monitors along with your computer case
  • If the debris build-up is particularly heavy, you may want to open your tower and carefully spray air and wipe the inside of the casing
  • Do not directly touch the motherboard, RAM sticks or other sensitive parts, and be vigilant to avoid accidently loosening any ribbon cables
  • Always ground yourself by touching something metal before digging inside your PC, and, again always make sure your computer is powered off and unplugged before attempting to clean the hardware

For a detailed demonstration of cleaning your system’s hardware, watch KTLA’s Tech Report video here.

iolo UptoSpeed

UpToSpeed™ is iolo's ongoing article series written by PC experts for everyday computer users. Each article is packed with easy tips and practical advice on the latest issues affecting computers to help you get the most out of your PC.

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6 Tips to Keep Your Computer Running Optimally