Science & Tech

What to buy to make your computer faster

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Slow running computers are frustrating
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Learn what to buy to make your computer faster and work more efficiently

You may be reading this on your tablet computer or smart phone, but when it comes to work, playing elaborate games or downloading and watching long videos, you're probably using a desktop computer or notebook PC. Anyone who has used these Windows devices (sorry, Apple users (keep your smugness to yourself and move on) knows that their performance slows down over time.

There are many reasons for these decreases in performance and even more solutions, some of which are free but most of the good ones require a fee. The nature of the performance problem will determine what to buy to make your computer run faster.

If you notice a recent and dramatic decrease in the speed of your PC, you've probably acquired a virus or some sort of advertising spyware. These malicious programs may doing things like collecting personal data or forcing annoying popup windows to appear that advertise software to remove spyware!

While there are good free anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, the advanced versions that you pay for, like Norton Anti-Virus or AVG, have heavy-duty search and quarantine features, larger databases and excellent performance software to speed up PCs after infections. Viruses and spyware can also affect startup times; use commercial performance software to check startup files for unnecessary or suspicious programs that run in the background and will slow down your system's performance.

The biggest non-virus culprit to poor performance on a PC is the disk drive. The enormous amount of activity involved in running programs, adding and deleting files and maintaining disk health leaves disk drives fragments and full of damaged sectors.

After running the free disk optimizers and defragmenters provide by Microsoft and others or a good commercial defragmenter, take a good look at how full your disk drive is. A crowded and nearly full disk will slow down a system because it takes longer to find files and the small amount of free space makes memory swaps more difficult.

Replacement disk drives with at least twice as much space are simple to install. Make sure your current disk is fully backed up with a good backup program many of them run automatically and some will store your data offsite over the Internet. Consider adding an external hard drive to offload infrequently-used files or extremely large data files, like movies.   

One final way to make your computer run faster is to upgrade to the latest operating system and all of its current parches. For Windows computers, that's the Windows 7 Operating System which has been out since 2009 and is pretty stable. Windows 8 will be released in October 2012 but most users should wait until the initial bugs shake out. Check the basic system requirements for the operating system and make sure you have enough CPU horsepower and memory space; most experts recommend to get as much RAM beyond the minimum that you can for better performance.

Personal computers are easier to use than ever and we're all finding more things to add on and download every day. With a little care and planning, you can keep your PC's performance fast enough for your favorite apps and games.

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