5 Tricks to Revive an Old PC

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If every click on your old, slow computer makes you want to tear your hair out but your budget just won’t permit replacing it, take heart. Even if you’ve already upgraded the hardware to the extent you can and performed all maintenance to rule out a malware infection, there are a few tweaks left that may make life with an old PC more bearable.

While the biggest performance boost most often results from hardware upgrades (more RAM and replacing your hard drive with a solid state drive can make a world of difference), bulky software can overly tax your system’s resources. This can lead to slower performance, crashes and errors.

Ditch Bloated Software

There are some common software culprits that can make even a new PC run slowly. If you’re still running Norton or McAfee, it’s time you save yourself some greenbacks, do your computer a favor and ditch your pricey, resource-sucking anti-virus in favor of a less bulky free program like Microsoft Security Essentials. When you open your browser, are the top three inches of your page taken up by tool bars? More often than not these search “tools” are just malware, tracking your actions and slowing your Web surfing. Purge your browser of these nasty buggers.

Downgrade Your Add-On Software

I know, I know – installing software upgrades usually results in fewer bugs and security holes. While this is definitely the case for most Operating System updates, the bulk of software developers design each year’s version of their program to be bigger and full of more bells and whistles. Upgrading to the newest version of Photoshop or Microsoft Office, for example, may be more than your system can bear. While it will likely require investing a little time and a few bucks on eBay, downgrading to older software on your old PC can actually result in improved performance. Consider applying this same philosophy to games and entertainment programs as well – the original Sims is a steal and will probably be less frustrating to play than a newer version that crashes and freezes.

Optimize What You Use

If you’re like most computer users, you probably spend most of your time cruising the Internet, or trying to as the case may be. Utilizing a faster browser can make a big difference in your day-to-day ratio of screaming to calm, pleasant Web surfing. Consider exchanging Internet Explorer in favor of Chrome, Firefox or Opera. In addition to weaning off the toolbars, don’t get lured in by the shiny personalization promised by plug-ins and extensions. The more stuff your browser has to load when you launch it, the longer it will take for you to get online.

Upgrade Your Extras

Even if a new computer is out of reach, you may be able to improve the parts that frustrate you the most. Does your DVD drive constantly skip or fail to burn discs? The AmazonBasics USB 2.0 8x DVD Writer is a basic, reliable external drive, available for around $40. Even a few bucks spent to replace your sticky keyboard or trackball mouse can make your computer feel like new, even when your tower hasn’t changed a bit.

Take Your OS Off the Rails

If all else fails and you’re truly desperate to eke another year or two out of your ailing PC, consider replacing your Operating System with a leaner, faster, albeit drastically different program. Consider one of the various versions of Linux, like Lubuntu or ArchBang, both of which are known for their snappy performance. Installing a new, radically different OS is a big commitment, but it may allow you to get some more life out of your less spritely machine.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.