Maintaining your computer is similar to looking after your car. Just like your vehicle, your PC needs regular tuning in order to function efficiently and perform its best.

Serena Yong, general manager, personal systems group, HP Singapore, says that a slow performance might be caused by the accumulation of too many different applications and software on our computers.

This results in a slow system; even if you uninstall them, there are still remnants in your hard drive. Slow internet connections might make it seem like your PC is not running optimally.


Free up that hard disk space and get rid of your frustration
with your computer’s slow processing speed. Image: Corbis

So what should you do to get a faster performance on your computer? Free up that memory space then; we ask Serena Yong and David Hall, regional consumer product marketing manager of Symantec, Asia Pacific on how to get that done:

1. CLEAN YOUR PROGRAM START-UP LIST
Several programs load themselves automatically when you start your computer. Serena advises that you clean this start-up list, since it’s highly unlikely that you use most of them.

  • On a Windows computer, click on the ‘Start’ button, and type ‘msconfig’ in the search field.
  • In the dialogue box that appears, click on the ‘Startup’ tab. You can safely uncheck most of the boxes against the list of programs – just be sure to leave your antivirus or other security programs running!
  • You’ll find that your computer will start up much faster next time – and you can always re-check the boxes if you find that you’ve disabled a program that you want loaded automatically.

2. MAINTAIN AN UPDATED OPERATING SYSTEM (OS)
David says that “keeping the OS of the PC updated is important in ensuring compatibility for the latest programs and applications.” He explains that “you can find out more about OS updates on your PC control panels; you can also configure an automatic update if you prefer not to do it manually. The step-by-step instructions are easy to understand and implement.”

3. UPGRADE YOUR RAM
If your computer is at least two years old, you might want to consider upgrading your RAM, David adds. “Different PC providers are compatible with various memory modules, so it’s best to check with the retailer or a technician about compatibility.”

Serena agrees: “If your computer has a 5400 RPM hard disk – which is the speed it runs at, and directly affects its performance – you’ll find that upgrading to a solid state drive (commonly known as SSD) will give you an instantly noticeable improvement in performance.”

“A 7200 RPM hard disk is a cheaper alternative which is still effective. You can purchase a new hard disk from most third-party component retailers, and many will also offer a hard disk ‘cloning’ service which replicates the contents of your old hard disk so that your computer runs exactly as before the upgrade – only faster!”

4. USE RELIABLE AND EFFECTIVE INTERNET PROTECTION
While it may be a concern for you that installing an antivirus or Internet Security software may slow your PC down even further, reputable software such as Norton’s security solution, uses less than 10MB of memory, works silently in the background to protect you and does not affect your PC’s performance.

IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY OF THESE PROBLEMS:
When you notice any of these, it means your computer is running out of hard disk space or memory (Random Access Memory or RAM), and it’s time to send it for servicing.

  • Slow boot-up.
  • Command prompts that tell you there isn’t enough memory or disk space.
  • It takes a long time for your screen to refresh when you switch between windows.
  • Loud whirring sounds coming from the cooling fan in your PC and resultant heat generation – this happens when your hard disk is working in overdrive to compensate for a lack of memory.

NEED MORE HELP?
Instead of pulling your hair out, take your PC to these experts:

  • HP: They offer a HP PC Tune Up Service for a nominal fee. A technician will remotely connect to your computer via an internet connection and carry out a comprehensive set of PC diagnostics; and to help protect and enhance your PC’s productivity. Contact your local HP authorised dealer or visit the HP Singapore website at www.hp.com.sg for more information.
  • Fixall Computers: Established in 1998, Fixall provides maintenance and repair services. You can go to the store, or call for an appointment and they will come to you. Log on to www.fixall.com.sg for contact details.
  • A-Star Computer: Their technicians specialise in PC and laptop servicing and upgrades, and see to PC-tuning and performance, among others. Visit www. astarcomputer.com for contact details.
  • PC Doctor On Call: They assist with small to full-scale upgrades for all makes and models of laptops and desktops, including Apple. They can also perform regular maintenance – the mobile PC technician will come to you and do the work on the spot, from $70. Visit www.pcdoctoroncall.com.sg for contact details.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer July 2011.