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Are you thinking of buying a new PC? Unless your computing requirements have changed, or your computer hardware is failing in some way, it would probably be an economical option to try to make your existing PC last a bit longer.
Keeping a PC going for another two (or more) years when the alternative is buying a new one obviously has environmental benefits, so should we be thinking more along the lines of ‘make do and mend' - a phrase first coined in the 1940's?
Windows XP has now been with us for 9 years (since its launch in October 2001) and shows no signs of going away anytime soon. Microsoft recently announced that it will continue to provide support for XP until 2014, so any new security holes that appear will be patched to ensure that XP systems stay safe.
With a stable and safe operating system, there are a number of ways you can then extend the useful life of a PC:
Add as much memory as you can
Most PC motherboards can take 2Gb or even 4Gb of memory. If you pay a visit to www.crucial.com and download and run the scanner tool, in most cases it can produce a report on your system and recommend the best memory upgrade.
The cost of this will typically be around £65 at the most, so if you have less than the maximum amount of memory in your PC, you could definitely increase its performance very cost effectively.
Remove any programs that you don't use
Maybe a communications suite for a mobile ‘phone that you no longer use got left behind when you upgraded, or you changed to a different anti-virus program but didn't fully remove the old one, or you loaded a game that you don't play any more.
Check the Add/Remove Programs option in Control Panel and you might be surprised at how much junk has accumulated over the years. However do be careful when considering removing programs you're not sure about - for example many printer installations include other applications that the printer needs to have running in the background.
Tidy up your files
If possible, the best way to tidy up the hard disk is to copy all your personal data to an external drive, then wipe the hard disk and start again, re-loading Windows, your programs (for example MS Office etc.) and finally your data. This can be a time-consuming process which may take several hours, however this is the very best way to return the operating system to an ‘as-new' condition and once complete many users remark that it is ‘like having a new machine'.
If the wipe-and-reload option is a step too far (or if, for some reason, you no longer have your original installation CDs and can't obtain replacements), consider archiving old files to an external backup - either an external drive, or a CD, or backed up to a storage service on the Internet.
Run the Windows disk utilities
Once you have reduced the number of ‘live' files on the PC, run a Disk Cleanup and then Defragment. Both of these programs are accessible from the System Tools menu, and running them will help Windows locate files much more quickly on your disk.
Taken together, the measures outlined above should give your PC a new lease of life, and you can sit back and wait for ‘Moore's Law' to take effect - if you can defer the purchase of a new PC for two years, you will find that when you do go ahead, it may be twice as powerful as a PC you'd buy today, for the same cost. And in the meantime you've helped the environment by not creating more landfill.
Hotech - Getting IT Working
If you would like advice on how to keep your older PCs running, then Hotech can help. We offer an initial on-site meeting, at no cost and with no obligation, at which we can assess your requirements and make recommendations. For more information on Hotech click here or call 020 8544 9321.
« Back to News | Published: 18/10/10