I’ve lost count of the numerous laptops I’ve been asked to fix over the last 18 months. Whilst by no means a programming genius, I’ve grown up in an age where computers are now like a second language to me. Whilst I’m no hacker extraordinaire or able to base code from scratch, what I am pretty quick at doing is figuring out how things work best.
It’s not rocket science, almost every comment I’ve had back is “what did you do?” or “how did you learn all of this?”. The latter answer is that I watch what other people far more knowledgeable than I do and apply the same logic. I’m one of those annoying people who can be shown how to do most things once (except how to understand women) and will remember how to do it. That said, here are my top tips for trying to fix your ageing machines first before resorting to paying for services that you might not have needed if you do the basics right:
NB. I am basing most of this advice on a machine running Windows, it’s the common denominator across all the devices I’ve fixed thus far. For other OSs, most points still apply.
- Uninstall software that you no longer use – You’d be surprised how effective this can be. Imagine what it’s like for you when you have to go trawling through the loft or a cupboard, wading through piles of stuff that you don’t use any more to get to the one thing you do want. The rest of it is just slowing you down and taking up space you could easily reuse. It’s exactly the same for your computer, except they can obviously store things in a smaller place and generally find them far quicker than we ever can. If you’re not sure check within the control panel when you last used the software (within add/remove programmes) or how often it says you use it (often, sometimes, rare – if the latter, those are the ones consider deleting)
- File Storage – Create a logical filing structure and stick to it! Treat this one like a kitchen – if you know that you keep all of your plates in one cupboard, cups and glasses in another, cutlery in one particular draw, then you almost instinctively know where to go when you need them or you can tell someone else if they ask? Do the same with your computer files. Yes the initial organising takes a while. Put all of your pictures in a picture folder, movies in a movie folder, and documents in their equivalent folder too. Computers will index files wherever they are, but you don’t. If files are all over the place it’s hard to keep up with what you have where no matter how sophisticated your computer, so it’s good to get into this habit. As a perfect example, one computer I fixed had 3 different iTunes folders. One was in My Documents, another was on a secondary drive and a third was believed to be a shortcut on the desktop. It turned out the owner was wrong in this belief, they were in fact three complete copies of the same iTunes folder, so by consolidating all of these into one working iTunes folder, this freed up nearly 19GB of space on their computer and dramatically increased it’s speed.
- Software updates – it constantly surprises me that so many people don’t update their software. The computer has done 90% of the work for you, more often than not all you have to do is click the update link and possibly restart (which I will admit is annoying). These updates are there for a reason though, and largely are there to improve overall system performance, security and speed. If you’re not sure, at the very least click on it and see if there is a further information link for you to read and see what it’s about. The days have long gone where they were written in gobbledegook for only the geekiest of geeks to understand. Either that or contact the provider directly and they are usually more than happy to help.
I’ll post tips 4-6 next week.