YOU Magazine - May 2008 - Quick & Clean Eight Tips to Improve Your PCs Performance
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Kathleen Petty     Kathleen Petty
AVP/Sr Mortgage Originator
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
Phone: (907)261-3458 Cell: 223-4440
Fax: (907)929-6699
License: NMLS Unique Identifier #203077
Alaska USA Mortgage AK#157293
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Quick & Clean
Eight Tips to Improve Your PCs Performance

Quick & Clean - Eight Tips to Improve Your PCs Performance

Every PC user has been there. One day, things are great your programs open swiftly and you are able to navigate the Internet with ease. But when you turn on your computer the very next day, you quickly realize that everything has changed for the worse. Here's the good news: these issues are very preventable. The following are our eight favorite user-friendly tips for keeping your PC clean and performing at an optimal level.

We'll start by saying that if you are an IT person, or someone who really knows PCs, much of this information will be stuff you already know. This article is not intended as a definitive work on PC maintenance. Instead, this is meant for people who use a computer, but who need a few pointers to keep it performing well.

1. Purchase a Quality Antivirus Program
Before purchasing a program of this nature, it is important to make sure that in addition to virus protection, it also protects against both spyware and adware. While viruses have the ability to take down a computer, the latter are capable of slowing it to a snail's pace and compromising your personal information.

While there are several quality antivirus programs on the market, two that we keep hearing about are Trendmicro (available at and Spysweeper (available at Whatever product you choose, make sure you do so before surfing the Net, or opening emails. Also, be sure to keep your software current by downloading any updates, and don't forget to renew your subscription every year.

2. Perform Your Windows Updates
Your computer will periodically instruct you that there are available Windows updates. It is important to perform these updates, as many will pertain to both computer security and overall operations. You can also set Windows to automatically update for you.

It's important to note, however, that some updates may have a negative result. This is because any time a change is made within your computer's operating system, it carries a risk of causing problems. The solution here is to keep track of all the updates you do. It will definitely help in troubleshooting any problems that may arise.

3. Utilize Your Windows Firewall
Current versions of Windows come equipped with a personal firewall, or a program that protects your personal network from any outside networks. It is highly important to make sure that this is turned on. To do so, simply click your start menu. Now click the "run" button and type firewall.cpl. Now click "OK." On the "General" tab, select "On," and then click "OK."

4. Make Sure You Have Plenty of RAM
Not to be confused with hard drive space, RAM is the memory your computer uses to store programs and data that you are currently working on. Here's what normally happens.

You buy a computer thinking that you don't need the biggest, fastest, or most powerful one on the market. Chances are you probably don't. However, what many people fail to consider is their potential to outgrow a computer. Considering the thousands upon thousands of great computer programs on the market, it's not hard to do. Run a few too many programs on a computer with insufficient RAM and it will definitely run slow.

There is only one way to fix this problem, and the good news is that it's fairly easy and cheap. Go to a local computer store, preferably the one where you bought your computer, and tell them you need to purchase more RAM. The cost will depend on the amount of RAM you already have, as well as the amount you need for an appropriate upgrade. In terms of installing it, there should be no problem having it done at the store.

5. Uninstall Any Unused Programs
Now that you've learned about the importance of RAM, you can understand why it's crucial to keep only the programs you use. To delete any unused programs, click "start" and then click on "Control Panel." Find the icon that says "Add or Remove Programs," and click it on. Scroll down to find the appropriate program, and have it removed. Your computer will prompt you with instructions.

6. Perform Regular Housecleaning
Regularly deleting your temporary Internet files, cookies, and Internet history will do wonders for maintaining a quick and clean PC. To do so, click "Tools" on the taskbar of your Internet browser. Scroll down and click on "Internet Options." From there, select what you would like to delete.

Another bit of housecleaning one should regularly perform is emptying your trash bin. It's called trash for a reason, so you need to deal with it in the same way!

7. Defragment (Defrag) Your Hard Drive
Defragmenting your hard drive may be the single best thing you can do to keep your computer running optimally. Here's why:

As you add programs and data to your computer, the information in question takes up blocks of actual physical space on the hard drive. Imagine these blocks of information piling up linearly, one right after another. Whenever one of those blocks is deleted, a blank space is created. Build up enough of these blank spaces and it causes your computer to take complicated paths in order to find information. By defragmenting your computer, you remove the blank spaces and create a more efficient pathway.

In order to perform a "defrag" on your hard drive, start by double-clicking your "My Computer" icon. Next, right-click on the "C-Drive" option. Click "Properties," "Tools," and then "Defragment Now." Depending on how fragmented your computer's hard drive is, some system defrags can take several hours, and during that time, you cannot use your computer.

8. Use an Email Service with a Good Spam Filter
The ability for an email service to effectively filter out insidious spam emails is highly important when it comes to minimizing your risk. Some spammers are nothing but scammers; Internet grifters, if you will. Others are bad guys posing as good guys for the purposes of either tracking your online activities for marketing purposes, or looking for ways to steal your information and identity.

Aside from regularly cleaning out your email spam file, we also recommend never giving personal information via an email. A very common trick used by these "bad guys" is to send emails pretending to be your bank. The email will request you to update certain information and provide a link for you to do so online. After clicking on the link, you are taken to a website that may look like your bank's website, but it's not. If you provide the information, they've got you. If you ever do need to update information online, go directly to the company's webpage by way of your Internet browser.

You can now consider yourself well informed on the subject of keeping your computer clean and running quickly. But that's not enough. You should look at this article as a call to action. Trust us when we say that by taking a proactive approach with your computer, you will save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration.

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