Computers, both Mac and PC slow down over time. Some of it has to do with the amount of clutter stored on your hard drive, sometimes it’s a simple matter components wearing out. Whatever the case may be, I’ve found that the primary reason for this drop in performance has to do with new software.
Every time you add a new program or update your existing ones, this includes the Operating System as well, you are adding something to your machine that is new, or a new version of a previous component. These new programs or updates typically add improved features to your computer and thus require faster hardware to run.
Now, I understand that not everyone is interested in upgrading the hardware on their machine, and that most would rather go out and purchase the latest and greatest, but for those who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a new system, here are some tips to speed that old machine up instantly!
RAM: You’ve probably heard it before, but it really is a life saver for older computers. Adding more RAM will not only allow you to run more applications at once, but it will make the ones you do use often feel more responsive and quick to the touch.
Ram itself comes in different configurations. There is RAM specific to laptops and desktops. RAM is also specific to the Motherboard on your machine. How do I know what type of RAM I need? Simple! Crucial.com has a very neat tool that with just a little input from you will give you the type of RAM you need for your machine, as well as how much the computer itself can handle. You can even order it directly from their site!
In a hurry to get this done, or don’t want to do it yourself? Do a simple Google search for computer stores here in and around Columbus and find an authorized service provider. For most people running computers 3-5 years old, the cost of the RAM and install can be as little as $50 to double what you had in your machine! If you decide to do it yourself, stores like Microcenter, or websites like Newegg.com will sell the memory directly to you so you can get more bang for your buck! Instead of spending $30 for an install of the RAM, you can now use that $30 to purchase another stick to max out your machine! It will make an instant difference in how fast your computer runs!
Hard Drive: Hard drives are one of the few pieces of hardware in your computer that actually moves while it is working. Spinning at thousands of RPM, over time they will fail, thats just a fact. What you can do to help prevent an old hard drive from slowing you down is to simply get a new one! Newer hard drives are not only faster, but most likely will be able to store more photos, documents, and music than your current hard drive can hold.
Hard drives, like RAM are made to match up to the machine they are going in, while not as specific, there are Hard Drives for Desktops and Laptops, as well as having different connectors for them to hook up to your machine.?? Similar to RAM, you can use the above steps to have this taken care of for you for around $70 to $100 starting out, or do it yourself for around $50.
Now, this is a little more involved than adding RAM. It’s not very challenging to install the hardware itself, but you will need to have/do a few extra things:
First, back up everything! It’s a new hard drive so it’s going to be empty. Take all the important contents off your current drive and save it to a USB Drive or CD.
Second, Once the drive is installed you will need an Operating System, as well as all of your programs put back on it. Make sure you have the disks to do this!
I’ll get into more detail about adding a new hard drive or simply erasing and re-installing all of your files onto one in a later article.
Video Card: As each new Operating System/Game/Program comes out, they seem to get much better looking every time right? Ever install one of the above on your machine and have it make your computer not feel as smooth or responsive as it had before? What gives!?! This was supposed to make my system better right? Well, it will if you have the proper hardware!
Most systems come with standard video built right onto the motherboard. They are typically just fine for the system that came with the machine, and software of time frame it was built for, it will, however make upgrading over the years very difficult. Thankfully there is an easy solution!
Add on Video Cards came in 3 flavors. PCI, PCI Express, and AGP. You are almost surely to have one of these connections on your motherboard to be able to add a higher powered video card o your computer. It should tell you in your manual with you computer which you have, or you can again, check out Crucial.com or visit your local computer shop to have them help you identify what you need. These upgrades range in price, but installed it will run you around $70 to $100 for a good, solid upgrade.
So, now that you have a basic understanding of what a couple of inexpensive components can do for your Mac or PC, how do you do it yourself? If I’m not doing the work myself I always recommend eHow.com or iFixit.com for step by step instructions for doing basic, and complex upgrades/repair on your computer.
Stay tuned for the next tip on keeping your hardware and software clean and quick!