We've all been there.
We're in the middle of working on a big report (with a deadline quickly rolling in) then all of a sudden our computer or laptop freezes. In an instant, the report we spent the last few hours working on disappears (even Microsoft Office AutoRecover couldn't save us).
Lately you've been noticing the freezing has been happening a lot and your computer is operating slower than normal. One of the first things you might think is: "It has a virus!"
Cue the virus scan. All clear.
Next thought: "I need to clean some of the files off this thing."
After spending hours sorting through all your files, deleting what you don't need and backing up anything that looks remotely important, you feel your computer starting to act like its old self again.
A few days or weeks go by and to your frustration, it meets back up with Freezing Fred and Slow Sally.
If your computer has a few years on it, your next thought might be: "It's time for a new computer."
I've been there and had all those problems with multiple computers and laptops. Before I spent a cent on a computer repair tech, I exhausted all options as to what the problems could be and whether or not it was really time for a new device.
If you've been experiencing problems with yours, don't be so quick to spend a small fortune going out and buying a new one. Since every computer is different, it's always best to contact a certified computer technician for the final analysis, but before coughing up that cash to do so, here are few signs to determine if new is the way to go or you could get away with making just a few cheap or free repairs.
Sign 1: Your computer is in fact consistently running slower than normal.
Fix 1: Run anti-virus software.
Anti-virus software, sometimes known as anti-malware software are designed to protect computers from threats when they happen.
Fix 2: Remove newer software that is not supported by your operating system along with any files bogging it down.
Fix 3: Update your memory.
Sarah Clements, manager of offtek noted it's time for a memory upgrade when your laptop is more than four years old and you use it on an ongoing basis. In her article, she added, "...if you are unable to afford a new purchase, then more memory will do for now."
Fix 4: Update your operating system to help remove any possible bugs on the current version.
Fix 5: Re-install your operating system.
This could be a tricky fix that needs to be handled with care. Prior to moving forward with the re-install, backup any files you might need.
"There are two main ways to reinstall your operating system," said Nathan House, veteran in the cyber security space and founder of Station X - a cyber security consultancy, who added:
1. Boot into the recovery partition using a function key as it boots up. Then go through and select the option to reinstall the operating system. Reinstalling like this will bring your machine back to factory default, but will also include manufacturer bloatware.
2. [Boot from] an operating system install DVD or USB without the bloatware.
Fix 6: Close out programs that use a lot of memory.
Fix 7: Clean off your hard drive.
"As a hard drive fills up, it gets slower due its nature. However it is considered good practice to keep at least five to 10 percent of your hard drive completely free of files to ensure smooth performance throughout its lifetime," said Reece Gordon, IT Manager of Office Furniture 2 Go LTD.
Sign 2: Your computer makes loud noises (and never used to).
The loud noise you might be hearing could be coming from the computer or laptop's fan. The noise can occur when too much dust builds up on the fan or the computer/laptop is getting too hot.
"Dust build up is a common problem. The average user doesn't know that they should routinely clean the dust out of their computer," said Gordon. "If you've had your computer for a long time and never opened it before, the odds are you have a large amount of dust built up inside that will adversely affect performance."
Loud Noise Fixes
Fix 1: Clean the dust.
Gordon advises purchasing a standard can of compressed air and opening the side of the computer, blowing away all the dust that will have accumulated over the fans and CPU heat sink.
"This will allow better airflow in the computer and should increase performance," he said. "Be sure to hold the compressed air upright and never facing down as some cans release liquid when aimed downwards for too long."
Fix 2: Utilize a cooling surface for your laptop.
There are a variety of low-cost cooling surfaces that could be a quick, easy solution.
Sign 3: Your computer is having frequent recurring problems, especially during the start-up stage.
If this is happening and the fixes above haven't worked, you may really need a new computer. More specifically, tech expert/founder and editor-in-chief of Guiding Tech - a tech blog, Abhijeet Mukherjee noted, "If the problems in your computer are recurring and are happening primarily during the startup/boot stage then it might be time for a new machine."
Try not to get frustrated throughout the process. If a computer is something you need to do your job, it'll all be worth it in the end. According to Time, economists believe one of the main factors that drive worker productivity is technology and by investing in a new technology like a new computer, workers are able to get their jobs done more efficiently.