You don’t need to be a computer expert to give your PC or laptop a bit of fine tuning to keep it running and working smoothly. By following these five easy steps it doesn’t take long to ensure your computer is in tip-top condition. All you have to do is make use of some of the tools that are already available.
1. Install an antivirus program
If you haven’t installed an antivirus program on your computer, do it now. Free and effective programs are available and installing them takes minutes. A few of the most trusted free programs include:
• Panda Free is a newer antivirus that’s getting rave reviews from tech sites
• Avira has been around for years and has proven itself to be one of the best free antivirus programs
• Avast gets a four-star rating from many of the PC experts
• Bitdefender is an award-winning free antivirus program
• AVG is another highly rated antivirus program.
You can upgrade to paid versions of any of these programs, but millions of users are happy with their free service.
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2. Update your programs and applications
All of your computer programs and applications need to be updated occasionally. Most will send you reminders, and don’t dismiss them when they do.
Updating only takes a minute and at worst, you’ll have to restart your computer to activate them.
Updating your programs and applications is important because security and performance updates will protect you against viruses and make them run more smoothly.
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3. Clean up and organise your files and folders
You don’t have to roll up your sleeves and manually clean up your PC. You just have to know where to look and remember to do it occasionally.
On any computer with a Windows operating system, the two most important system tools are the disk clean-up and defragmenting tools. To find them, go to Programs/Accessories/System Tools on the Start menu and you’ll see them listed.
Start with the disk clean-up. This will remove hundreds of temporary and other files you probably didn’t know were lurking in the background and slowing your computer down.
The ‘defrag’ tool puts your files and folders back in order again. This one takes a while to run, but you can still work on your computer while it does so in the background. If your computer has started to slow down, running defrag after cleaning up your files could be all it takes to get it running smoothly again.
If you have an Apple Mac, defragging isn’t such an important issue because Apple’s iOS operating system doesn’t move small files around like the Windows OS does.
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4. Check your downloads
If you spend much time online, you’ve probably downloaded dozens or even hundreds of items and after closing them, forgotten about them.
Your computer hasn’t, though. You’ll find them listed in a ‘Downloads’ folder on your computer’s hard drive.
Your forgotten downloads might include documents, videos, photographs and even programs and program updates.
Over time, all those downloads take up valuable storage space in your PC. Check them occasionally and delete the ones you don’t want to keep.
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5. Back up your important files
Backing up your important files isn’t going to make your computer run smoother, but it will give your ‘inner computer’ peace of mind. There are a number of ways to back up your files:
• Save documents, photos, videos and other data on CDs or DVDs;
• Purchase an external hard drive, copy files to it and put it in a safe place; or
• You can use a free online storage service. Dropbox, for example, gives you two gigabytes of free storage space.
Read our guide to backing up data
Keeping your computer in good condition shouldn’t be a burden. The few minutes you spend following our five easy steps can extend the life of your computer and save you from costly repairs.
Next article: How to back up your computer >>>
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