I’m in a pretty serious relationship. We have a deep bond— he does so much for me, and sometimes he even finishes my sentences. I make sure he has what he needs to thrive, and he makes sure I’m supported in everything I set out to do, personally and professionally. Our partnership allows me to do what I love— and I know I simply couldn’t do any of it without him.
His name is Ferdinand. And he’s my laptop.
Wait, what were you thinking?
Ferdinand knows my deepest secrets— the passwords to all my accounts, and holds all my selfies with no filters. What Ferdinand doesn’t know is that he isn’t my first laptop, and he won’t be my last. We’ve been together (and rarely apart) since mid-2013. That means he’s just about 3 years old, which is nearing geriatric in laptop years (sad, but true). Lately, he’s been showing signs of wear: He’s slow to open apps, he keeps dropping my home Wifi signal, and he barely keeps a charge… even though I recently had his battery replaced. As much as it pains me to do it, it may be time to end this relationship.
Which sucks, because I hadn’t planned on the expense. Love stinks.
It can be hard to know when it’s time to replace your laptop, and there are things you can do to try and prolong it’s life. For me, without my laptop, I have no business— it’s 100% integral to my daily life and I would be useless without it. So while I hate to shell out the dough (and it always feels like I just got a new one), I shudder to think of the lost down time (and lost revenue) that would ensue if I was caught off guard by a motherboard-gone-bad, and had to wait a week or so for a new computer to arrive. Better to be safe than sorry.
Assuming that you aren’t just jonesing for something new, (in which case, definitely indulge, and may I suggest this beauty), here are nine ways to prolong the life of your lover if he’s starting to show his age.
If you’re someone who just shuts their computer at the end of the day, instead of shutting it down (guilty), it could be weeks since your last reboot. A reboot is so simple, but it can solve a ton of problems— it’s essentially like wiping the slate clean and allowing your computer software to start fresh. If you’re frequently getting that Mac beach ball or the dreaded Windows blue screen, a reboot is your first line of defense.
Clean up your hard drive
If your hard drive is busting at the seams, it’s probably affecting the performance of your computer. Upgrading your hard drive to a faster one like a “Solid State Drive” might also help. If you have more than 10% of hard drive space available, that’s probably not the problem. FYI, my MacBook Air (and most current Apple computers) don’t allow for upgrades to either the RAM or the hard drive— what you get, you get, for the life of the computer.
There are lots of programs that can help you identify problems or speed things up on your Mac or PC. WinDirStat will show you what’s eating up all your hard drive space, and will color code all files to show you the biggest offenders. Mac users can get a general idea of what’s up by going to the Apple Menu and selecting “About This Mac > Storage”. Norton Utilities fixes common issues that can cause crashes or slow downs, and can identify unused or duplicate files so you can delete them and trim down your bloated laptop. CleanMyMac is a similar program that will safely remove junk files, and protect it from viruses. A program like SpeedFan can tell you if your PC is overheating, which can be a pre-cursor to hardware failure.
Make sure what you’re running is current
You should always be running the latest version of both your system software and any apps you use on a regular basis. Up-to-date software has the fewest bugs, and has been programmed for the highest performance.
Upgrade your RAM
If you talk to anyone about your computer woes, they might encourage you to upgrade your RAM to improve performance. While installing more RAM gives your computer greater multi-tasking power, but if you have 2-4GB of RAM already, you probably don’t need more to boost performance, unless you’re doing more resource-hogging work like video or image editing.
Replace the battery
If your computer is having trouble keeping a charge like mine was, it’s probably time to replace the battery. I brought mine to a Genius, however, and he ran a diagnostic that showed that my battery was actually fine (it was at 80% capacity, not particularly worn down), so he warned me that replacing it wouldn’t be helpful in fixing my problem (it wasn’t, but it was worth a try).
Reinstall your system software
A clean installation of your system software runs faster simply because it’s not bogged down with all the apps, plugins and other things you’ve installed over the years that can slow your machine. So while it might be a good last resort, moving forward pay attention to what you install on your machine and try to keep add-ons to a minimum.
Delete apps, and run only what you need
Check your system tray, or dock. If you have more than a few things running at once, quit some things and get used to quitting what you aren’t using often. While you’re at it, look in your applications folder and delete any apps you no longer need or don’t recognize.
Check things that run in the background
When you restart your computer, do certain applications boot up automatically? If they’re not things you need every time you use your computer, remove them from the queue so they don’t bog things down while you work.
Tried some or all of these and still no luck? If your computer is really old (ie. 4+ years), won’t run the latest software, is constantly giving you error messages, making strange noises or has a noisy system fan, or is just running slooooow, it’s time to replace your laptop. Give your laptop a hug, back it up, then wipe that sucker clean and sell it for whatever it’s worth.
Love can be so cruel.