10 Ways You Can Get More Out of Your Notebook in the Bad Economy

This is a guest blog post by J JSchoch, VP of Marketing at iolo technologies,  maker of System Mechanic. Most of the tips he wrote about below can be dealt with manually, but this suite of software can take care of most of them automatically.

As daily reports confirm, we’re now officially in a recession. Consumer spending is down for the first time since 1991. Whether you’re one of the many people that want (or need) to continue using their old notebook or you just managed to buy that dreamt-of newest model, the good news is you can follow these 10 easy steps to make your notebook – old or new – go a long way in the bad economy.

One of the most frequent reasons people cite as justification for a new notebook purchase is that their old one has just gotten too slow.  However, contrary to what many of us believe, computer electronics do not actually slow down as they get older. So, why is it that your snappy new notebook seems to suffer from ongoing performance degradation over time? The truth is that 98 percent of all slowdowns and other problems are caused by faulty settings, clutter, and fragmentation that result from everyday PC use.

The tips below can help keep your notebook performing like the day you bought it. They will also help you save on energy, support and recycling costs – perhaps enabling you to take advantage of some of this season’s unexpected travel specials and finally go on that Caribbean vacation.

1)   Defragment the hard drive

As you create, delete, and download files, your computer cannot store data as one unit and instead will split it up and store pieces in various drive locations. A fragmented hard drive has a large amount of such scattered data and can significantly slow PC performance. Files take longer to open and programs take longer to start. Defragment the drive and you’ll accomplish these common tasks faster without buying a bigger drive.

2)  Clean up clutter.

Over time, your hard drive accumulates many unnecessary files – old download files, internet cache, etc. Clean it up and you can recover several gigabytes worth of hard drive space without spending time and money needlessly searching for a larger replacement drive.

3)    Remove unnecessary Windows startup programs

Many software programs will load unnecessary portions of themselves during startup eating up both memory and processor power.

4)    Defragment the memory

Memory fragmentation occurs over time as memory is allocated and released by programs. When memory becomes highly fragmented and Windows runs out of free memory, programs do not have enough memory to function properly. Programs may not open or may run slower and frequently crash. Defragment your RAM and you’ll gain extra memory without buying it.

5)    Clean, compact and defragment the registry

Inaccurate registry references frequently cause computer crashes and lock-ups, while a scattered and bloated registry wastes system memory and slows down Windows processing. With a cleaned-up and defragmented registry, programs will load faster and you’ll be able to run more items at the same time, without the extra RAM.

6)    Turn off the screensaver

Research reveals that 53 percent of computer users never turn off their PC or turn it off only before they call it a day, often assuming that having the screensaver on conserves energy. Unfortunately, they couldn’t be more mistaken – the screensaver consumes almost as much energy as a fully functioning PC and to make matters worse, actually keeps your notebook from properly going to sleep. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program touts figures estimating that people can save $25 to $75 in energy costs a year by merely turning off their screensaver.

How to: Go to Control Panel / Display / Screensaver and turn off the screensaver. Adjust the sleep settings under Control Panel / Power Options. Better yet, simply turn off your notebook when not in use.

7)    Monitor the devices around your notebook

The various peripherals that are plugged directly into your notebook use extra energy and deplete the battery. Wireless mice and keyboards are expensive and require regular purchases of new batteries. Unplug peripherals when not in use and opt for wired mice and keyboards instead of wireless ones.

8)  Tune up your notebook

A tuned up PC uses less energy by allocating its resources more effectively. Keep drives clutter-free, ensure unnecessary programs aren’t lodging themselves in memory at startup, defragment the memory and registry, and employ the energy-savings tips from above and you’ll be able to run programs faster and accomplish more. You’ll find that your notebook uses less power to conduct common tasks and your battery lasts longer.

9) Avoid Service Visits

Perform comprehensive regular tune-up and maintenance and save money on expensive support calls and Service Center visits. Service center visits and tech support calls can often be costly, time consuming and stressful and are particularly inconvenient when you’re on the go. The good news is most of them can be avoided because the majority of Windows problems can be easily fixed by a software tune-up.

10)  Don’t Throw it Out

Tune up your notebook instead of throwing it out and you’ll save on recycling costs too. You wouldn’t throw out your car if it started running a little slower? Don’t throw out your notebook either. Disposing of your notebook in an environmentally responsible way can be expensive. Even when you think you’ve recycled it, your old notebook might end up being sold to third world countries, where underpaid employees will be exposed to hazardous substances in search for the precious metals contained in its parts. Limit the pollution, waste and your expenses by regularly tuning up your notebook and thus extending its life.

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