Taking Care of Your PC

Is your then-bank breaking personal computer slower than a turtle’s grandma? Do you find yourself smashing your keyboard because your game always freezes just before you get that pwn? Are leeettterrsssss randomly sticking and you can’t figure out why? You can attribute these problems, along with a host of others, to poor maintenance. It doesn’t matter if it’s a desktop or notebook or if it’s expensive or affordable. A computer without regular upkeep will perform poorer and poorer over time. Read on for some easy PC servicing tips.

Stay Safe on the Internet

Contrary to popular belief, the Internet is not a place solely populated by gentle, caring souls. No, there are trolls, flamers, baiters, bashers and crooks around each corner of the World Wide Web. They’re not looking to take you out for coffee. Rather, they’re looking to get something from you, ranging from an angry response to sensitive, personal information.

To avoid adding your name to the long list of Internet victims, you should first and foremost get a safe browser. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are two of the best in terms of establishing a secure connection, though Opera and Safari are not far behind in encryption. They also have

built-in fail-safes that automatically terminates your connection when you attempt to visit a known, malicious site. Speaking of which, stop clicking on links that your gut tells you are malicious.

For a more detailed explanation on internet vigilance, head to page 83.

Get Yourself Some Antivirus Software

Sadly, being Internet-cautious by itself doesn’t guarantee that you’re safe from the evils of the digital world. Exploits in websites can render them vulnerable to adware, and the flash drives we willy-nilly plug in our PCs may have been infected by other machines. Like a club bouncer, an antivirus stops malicious files from wreaking havoc in your machine.

Famous names like Kaspersky, Symantec, Mcafee, and BitDefender all do a fine job with security. All these have in-house cyber security experts that detect, tract, and prevent countless viruses each day. Better yet, you’ll receive software updates when a new threat comes up. If you can’t shell out big bucks for the above suites, Microsoft’s own Windows Defender is also good enough for common attacks. Pair all these with Malwarebytes for an almost fool-proof security detail.

Update Software and Drivers

Software updates are good. They ensure that whatever you’re using, be it a word processor, media player, or videogame, runs smoothly and with no hiccups. Patches also fix security and memory leaks for better stability.

When it comes to hardware drivers, however, new isn’t always better. What’s more applicable is if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.  There’s really no need for your motherboard, PCI cards, and peripherals to always be up-to-date as newer drivers sometimes cause more harm than good. Unless the upgrade brings significant features, security, or performance improvement, your current working drivers are going to be fine.

The only hardware driver you should be frequently updating is the graphics card’s. Each new update brings with it significant performance and stability improvements in games, both new and old.

Store in the Proper Environment

If you aren’t comfortable eating your food there, then don’t put your computer there either. Avoid areas that are damp, dirty, and dusty as particles will inevitably make their way into your rig. When that happens, prepare yourself for overheats, coil whine, and random system crashes, among others. The best place for your computer is on top of a clean table with adequate ventilation.

Clean the Inside

It takes only a few months for the guts of your computer to go from being the Sistine Chapel of technology to Pandora’s Box. No matter what you do, dust, stray hair, and other particles will find its way into your machine. Let them accumulate and over time, your system will get noticeably hotter, louder, and of course, slower. You’re also shortening the lifespan of the components by letting them run in a hot environment.

To take care of the gunk, you’ll have no choice but to go into the belly of the beast. Get yourself a can of compressed air with a tiny nozzle, multi-bit screwdriver, cleaning cloth, small paint brush, and some cotton swabs. Open up your system, use the cloth and brush to take out large dust bunnies, and use the rest to remove the finer debris. While you’re at it, tidy up the wires with some cable ties. Doing all these, airflow within your rig will be improved significantly. Always remember that with good airflow comes cooler and better performance.

If you’re using a laptop, you’re better off using the services of a computer technician. Break a laptop’s innards and you might as well just buy a new one.

Time for Some New Hardware

If you still find your machine sluggish even after going through the previous steps, perhaps it’s time for an upgrade. Multitaskers and those who like opening tons of Google Chrome tabs at once will benefit from an extra stick of RAM, while gamers should aim for a new graphics card to get their frame rate back up to speed. It’s also not a bad idea to throw a solid state drive (SSD) in there to help everything chug along faster. You should also consider getting more case fans to better push cool air through your components.

Meanwhile, the upgrade path for notebooks is pretty slim, normally limiting you to only the RAM and storage drives. Most manufacturers are kind enough to include unfilled RAM slots, so you should put another stick in there when you get the chance.

Storage drives are usually limited to one per device. Throw in a larger 2.5-inch HDD if you like collecting multimedia, or an SSD if you value speed over storage-per-Peso. Most of the other parts aren’t upgradeable so if your current laptop ain’t cutting it any more, it’s best to buy a new one.

I personally follow what you just read and trust me, the little time it takes to maintain the PC is worth it. By following these simple tips, you’re prolonging the life of your PC. Actually scratch that. You’re prolonging the life of your investment. Say goodbye to heading to the computer store year after year for overpriced repairs and replacements.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE February 2016 Issue
Words by Chris Noel Hidalgo

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