There are few things as gratifying as turning on a new computer for the first time. The sound of the whirling fan, the static spark of the monitor, and the carefully crafted OS, come together to create pure bliss. Before you, a pristine machine of near infinite possibilities. The desktop is clean, programs run faster, and everything feels shinier.

While the pure joy you may experience from turning on a new PC is often a fleeting affair, your computer should run almost as smoothly on day 365 as on day 1. Here are some good tips to keep the system running in near new condition for a long time.

  1. Install only what you need, run only what you are using – It may be tempting to install every program you have in your library, every plugin you find online, and every recommendation from friends, but this can lead to headaches in the future. Not only are you taking up hard drive space, but potentially slowing down your PC and putting it at risk for  bugs. Another thing to keep in mind is what programs are running at start-up and in the background. Some programs may be taking up resources and you aren’t even using them. Be sure to close these out.
  2. Take out the trash – It’s easy to gather a lot of digital clutter over time. Every few months, go through the programs you want to keep, and the ones you wish to delete. This is not unlike going through your clothes closet during spring cleaning. Think of that program you haven’t used in six months like that novelty shirt you bought and wore only once. It’s a simple process that will help keep your computer running smoothly.
  3. Remove unnecessary web clutter – The programs that you install only make up so much of the clutter on your machine. Time spent online is a sure way to acquire unwanted bits of data. Regular scheduling a cleanup program will do wonders for your system.
  4. Update your software – Keeping your OS and other programs updated is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth running system, even if it has gotten a bit older.
  5. Defrag – Run a utility program to defragment your hard drive. The utility will place your files in contiguous cluster and will optimize your hard drive, placing your most frequently used files up front for faster access. While this process use to take hours upon grueling hours a decade ago, it’s now a quick and easy way to speed up your system.
  6. Make use of a good antivirus program, malware remover, and firewall – Sadly, there are nasty computer viruses out there that can wreck your system as well as hackers who are looking to steal your personal information. Using a combination of an antivirus program, a malware removing tool, and a firewall will help ensure a safe and happy computer.
  7. Surf Savvy – When online, only go to trusted sites. Listen to your browser when it warns you about continuing on to certain sites. Don’t fall for the temptation of downloading the complete Super-Ultra-Extended Lord of the Rings Trilogy through a bit torrent. Not only is this illegal, it’s a sure way to load your computer with all sorts of nasty things.
  8. Empty the recycle bin – Just like taking out the recycling at home, this is an important chore in the virtual environment as well. A good habit to develop is to check the files in the bin  before deletion, just to make sure you aren’t permanently deleting something important.
  9. Keep a clean desk (at least around the system) – Desks can get cluttered quickly so it’s important to constantly check the area around the PC. Make sure there aren’t any liquids that can spill on the system. It is vital that the fan vents are clear so they can do their job. Regularly dusting the inside of system with a duster may be a good solution as well. Just make sure to read the directions before use.
  10. Upgrade the Ram if needed – Upgrading RAM (Random Access Memory) in a system is a great way to help it run newer programs faster. Various sites will help you determine how much RAM you have in your computer, how much more you can add, and what type you will need. Installation is simple with most setups today. If your run into any issues, your IT consultant will be able to assist you.