Do you have an old computer that you're kind of tired of? Is it slower, less responsive, kind of uglier than it was when it was younger? Do you find yourself having to do more maintenance and chores because of it? Is being on it just less fun? Are you considering throwing it out the window, like you've done with all your past computers?
But what if there was another way? Some technique or counseling you could go through to restore the magic in the relationship with your computer? To find out if such a thing was possible, I shouted angry oaths at my own computer until it answered me. Here's what I found.
Computers get dirty with time, and a simple cleaning can help restore some of the passion you once felt for each other. Give it a gentle wipe down, and caress its nooks, crannies, and folds with some compressed air. Not only will this clear away the Cheeto crumbs that have accumulated during your long relationship, it can help speed your system up by dusting off various heat sinks and fans.
But don't stop there, oh god don't stop there. Because now we turn our attention inward, to cleanse its filthy insides. Over time your computer can accumulate malware, unwanted software that collects your data, pushes you unwanted ads, and hogs system resources.
My impression is that malware used to be a bigger problem a few years ago, but that may just be because me and my computer were into some pretty shady stuff a few years ago. But malware can still be a bit of an issue, which is why you should clean it out, regularly and sensually. There are many free tools that can scan and remove malware from your system -- they usually have names like Killmal or Malstop or Stopstop. I'm sure whatever you Google up will be fine. Just pour yourself a glass of wine, set one of those running, and you and your computer will be on speaking terms again in no time.
Computers are filled with treachery, and at any given moment they have a number of programs running that you have no idea about, the harlots. You can see a list of these by opening up Task Manager and gazing upon the Processes or Services tab through bitter tears.
"Bonjour? IS THAT FRENCH? WHO'S THIS FRENCH SERVICE?"
If you suddenly find your computer running unusually slowly, it's probably because one of these other processes is taking up all of its resources and affection. Once you've identified and killed the culprit, you can talk with your computer about whether you both really need that process or whether it can be safely uninstalled. More wine will help.
As they age, a computer will always have trouble keeping up with younger models. You could accept that and deal gracefully with the slowly degrading performance, or you could rage hopelessly against the dying light.
I recommend the latter.
But computer upgrades are a tricky business. In the same way that adding premium gas to a car doesn't make it go faster, there are many computer upgrades that won't have much impact on performance.
Premium gas, for example.
Adding more RAM has historically been a pretty good move. According to a child's book on computers I got out of the library, RAM stands for random-access memory, and adding more of it ... makes it more ... memorier. Adding new RAM is as simple as opening up your computer, getting intimidated, then asking a friend who "is good with computers" to do it for you. Watch your friend closely to ensure nothing funny is going on.
People who are good with computers are incredibly seductive.
If you and your computer used to like playing games together when things were better in your relationship, you have some other options. Replacing the video card with a more virile one is the most obvious solution. Be careful when choosing the replacement card -- you'll have to worry about power usage, cooling capacity, and CPU bottlenecking, among other things. You'll rarely make your computer worse by doing this, but you may not get your money's worth, which will engender those feelings of bitterness and hostility that you were trying to get away from.
Bitterness and hostility are kind of useful for gaming, though.
Reinstalling the operating system is sometimes the only way to restore a computer to some semblance of usability, clearing away all the digital crud that had accumulated on it. Back in the bad old days, when men were men, and Windows came on 75 floppy disks, reinstalling the operating system was a pretty common procedure.
Windows 98 would actually catch fire if you didn't do this every few months or so.
Nowadays it's debatable whether this is as useful. Modern operating systems seem to keep their shit together a lot better as they age, and any performance gains are debatable at best. And when considered against the non-trivial amount of work involved -- backing up data, reinstalling the OS, and reconfiguring everything -- the trade-off probably isn't worth it.
Until you get really angry and decide to teach your computer a lesson. Again, wine can come in handy here.
Improving your relationship with "your" computer becomes a lot easier when we remember the fluid nature of the word "your." By buying, stealing, or inventing a brand-new computer, you'll get all the benefits of a sexy new computer with none of the hassle of trying to pretend your crappy old one still has it.
"I don't want no scrubs."
With the simple application of a few hundred dollars, "your" computer can suddenly be much, much faster. And thanks to the cloud, your old, bitter computer doesn't have the stranglehold on your data and photos it once did. Transferring your life to the new one has never been easier. And, sure, that might seem cold and cruel, but remember: Computers have no feelings! They don't remember anything when they're turned off! They don't dream endlessly of revenge against the lovers that spurned them so cruelly!
There's nothing to worry about here at all!
So feel no shame when upgrading! No, you probably didn't need to swear at your old computer, and spit on it, and wag your genitals at it before you hurled it out the window. But there are no consequences!
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist, has been fined dozens of times for littering computers, and will be the first against the wall when they awaken. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
Before resorting to washing your computer, you may want to just try hiring a professional. But when you do, please remember to clean all your pubes off the keyboard. See how often that's a problem in 5 Things I Learned Fixing Your Computer. Another alternative is to just learn how to run your antivirus software. If you don't John Cheese will give you a mouthful in 5 Common Misconceptions That Destroy Computers.
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