Spring clean your business – Part 3
If you’ve been reading our previous posts on giving your PC a good spring clean, you’ll have seen just how much you can do to breathe new life into your computer. In this third and final spring clean post, we look at some more advanced things you can do to extend the life of your computer to next spring, and even the one after that.
Add more memory
Computer memory, or RAM, can play a major role in the speed of a computer. Essentially, it acts as temporary storage for any programmes your computer is running. The larger and more advanced the programme, the more RAM it needs. The less memory available, the slower programmes will run as they have to share limited resources. Out of all the upgrades available, adding more memory is relatively cheap, especially when you take into account the performance boost you get for you money.
Adding new RAM is a fairly simple process as it just slots into a spare slot in your motherboard. However, there are a couple of things to remember when choosing and buying memory.
- Compatibility. Different types of RAM are used in different motherboards. Most modern motherboards are either compatible with DDR2 or DDR3 RAM. Check your motherboard’s instruction manual, or you computer manufacturer’s website, for more information.
- Matched pairs. Installing memory in matched pairs (i.e. a pair of identical RAM modules) can allow you to take advantage of dual channel technology offered in some motherboards, which can help make your RAM even faster.
- Replacement. To get the maximum amount of memory on your motherboard, it may be necessary to completely replace some of the existing memory. For example, if you have four memory slots and each has a 512MB RAM module, replacing each of these with a 1GB RAM module will allow you to double the total amount of RAM – from 2GB to 4GB.
To fit the RAM, all you have to do is remove the side of your desktop PC, locate the RAM slots and slide the new modules into place. Check out this guide for a bit more information.
Boost start-up time with an SSD
We’ve already touched on improving start-up times, and if you’ve followed our tips you’ll already have noticed a difference. However, if you want to further improve start up speeds, a slightly more complicated method is to install your operating system on a solid state drive (SSD), which the computer will then start up from. SSDs are similar to larger memory cards, and unlike standard hard disk drives, they don’t feature moving parts. SSDs are much quicker than HDDs, but are a lot more expensive and don’t have the capacity per drive of an HDD. By moving your OS to the SSD, and storing programmes and user data on the HDD, you can take advantage of the speed of an SSD and the cheaper storage of an HDD. It can take a while to install the new drive and transfer all the relevant data, but the speed boost will make you glad you made the switch.
The process is fairly lengthy, and involves a number of steps. Essentially, you need to back up your existing user data and install the SSD into a free drive slot, and then either copy your OS to the new drive using a cloning tool, or create a fresh install of your OS on the SSD. Check out these guides at Lifehacker and overclock.net for help on using an SSD as a boot drive.
Unless you’re working on a machine with components no longer supported by the manufacturer, chances are there will be updates for both the software and hardware that you use. No software or hardware developer is perfect, and there will always be problems, both small and large, in the software code. Manufacturers and developers launch new version of software and drivers to update these issues. Often, an update can fix security vulnerabilities, improve effectiveness and add new features.
If you want to update your software and hardware drivers, you have a number of options. For hardware, you can use the Windows device manager (right click on My Computer, go to Properties, then click on Device Manager) to find the relevant piece of hardware and use Window’s built in features to search for the latest drivers. This guide provides a bit more information on this method. For software, there is often an option built in to look for the latest software update. However, there are also free tools out there to find the latest driver and software versions. Have a look at FileHippo’s Update Checker or Intel’s Drive Update Utility to help with this.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our series of spring clean posts. If you’ve been inspired to try and extend the life of your PC, let us know how successful you were. Don’t forget, if you’re looking for any hardware or software recommendations, we’re here to help.