We have all been there. Your computer is slowing down, is old(ish) and you are thinking about changing it for a new model. Do you really need to spend hundred of pounds on a new shiny model or is there a cheaper way to reclaim your computers lost performance?
So before you go spending all that money lets try to refresh your PC. Because most people run some form of Windows we will concentrate on that.
1. Run a complete virus and spyware scan. I can recommend Avast Free (antivirus) and Spybot -Search and Destroy (spyware) for this. This area is of course personal choice but I would recommend these to any of my clients.
2. Get rid of any old programs you have installed but hardly use. Word of warning here - only get rid of programs that you have installed and you know what they do. If you don't know what a specific program does then my advice is to leave it alone or you could mess up your system.
3. Use disk clean up. This is a tool within Windows that helps you to free up hard disk space by deleting unnecessary files. It can be found by right clicking on the icon for your computers hard disk. The tool itself is safe but there are three items you need to be wary of - Office Setup files, compress old files and Hibernation File Cleaner. Personally I would leave these items well alone just in case.
4. Defragmentation. Your windows hard disk is like a filing cabinet in the way it stores data. Over time some files will be moved into other locations or worse, files will get split up and stored in different locations. When this happens it takes the operating system longer to retrieve all the parts of a file and therefore slows down your system. When you run the defrag program it basically orders your files allowing the operating system to locate the files quicker. It can be run by locating your hard drive in Computer and right clicking. Choose the tools tab and click the "Defragment now" button.
5. Reinstalling your operating system. At some point you may have so much "junk" on your system that it is quicker and easier to reinstall the operating system from scratch. For this you will need a windows installation disk and your activation code. However if your PC / laptop came with Windows pre-installed after 2001 there is a good chance that you should be able to go back to factory settings- usually by accessing your BIOS. You can access your BIOS by checking your screen prior to windows loading and pressing the appropriate buttons; something like F2 or Delete.