How To Get More Years of Use From Your Old Computer Part 1 12

Tip #1: Turn off the computer when it is not in use

Do you have an old computer somewhere?  Is it running slow? Do you feel that you may have to replace it because it makes you inefficient? 
It takes money to buy a new computer, and time to migrate all the programs and data you need to make the new computer usable! If there was a way to make that computer stay very functional and efficient for a few more years, would you be interested? Well there is, and you can do it yourself!
Over the next few weeks we will discuss how to add more life to your old computer by taking the following eight steps.  The first six are free, while the last two cost money and may require additional skill.


  1. Shut Down your computer when it is not in use
  2. Optimize the visual effects settings for increased performance
  3. Make sure that it is free of adware, spyware, and viruses
  4. Remove all unused programs and applications (and printers!)
  5. Remove desktop background pictures
  6. Defragment your hard drive (and put it on a weekly schedule)
  7. Install more memory
  8. Install a Solid State Drive (SSD)

This Week’s Tip: Turn off the computer when it is not in use

The old technician’s trick “when in doubt, reboot” still holds true. There are so many calculations and restarting of processes that go on when a computer starts up, that it’s quite possible for problems to be corrected during boot-up.


People have been misled into thinking that the new operating systems do not need to reboot the way the older operating systems did.  The computer may not “need” it, but it does a lot of good.  There are old virtual memory swap files that grow and grow so that it becomes hard for the computer to work with them. When you turn off the computer, these files empty out and start over again

Do not confuse “Shut Down” with “Sleep” or “Hibernate”. The latter two do not put the computer through the refresh cycle of “booting up”.  On many computers, hitting the power button just puts it in a sleep mode, which is not what we want.  You need to go to Start – Shut Down, or in some systems Windows Button – Shut Down (in windows 8 there is a shutdown in the metro screen or by right-mouse-clicking on the Windows Button in the desktop and choosing Shut Down from the menu).

If you would like to change your power button from putting the computer to sleep to shutting down the computer follow these steps:

  • Open your control panel (either on the start menu, windows button menu, or right mouse click on the windows button in the desktop – it is also on the second metro page all the way to the right on Windows 8).
  • Make sure that the upper right hand of the window says View by: Large Icons (if not, drop down the list at the “View By:” arrow and choose Large Icons). Click to view picture of this step.
  • Double click on “Power Options” (the icons should be in alphabetical order, so you should be able to find it under the letter “P”). Click to view picture of this step.
  • Click on “Choose What the Power Buttons Do”. The next page will show up. Locate the row that states “When I press the power button:”. Make sure that both the “on battery” and the “plugged in” options state “Shut Down” (if not – you know what to do – drop the list and choose “shut down”). Click to view picture of this step.
This concludes this week’s installment.  In the coming weeks we will discuss the rest of the tips on the list, so stay tuned!

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