3 Tips to Make Your Old Computer Young Again

What's Hot

2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Your aging computer still has some life left in it. But to be blunt, the machine isn't the problem. You are.

A third of Americans would rather go to the dentist than perform this one simple, money-saving task. A fifth would wait in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. And 12 percent would prefer a colonoscopy.

So what is this onerous chore? “Clean their computer’s registry in order to prevent crashes and improve speed.”

A study this month by security software maker PC Tools proves that when it comes to computers, we treat them worse than almost any other machine in our lives. After all, we regularly change the oil in our cars, clean the lint from our dryers, and buy fancy  protective covers for our smart phones.

But that unsexy, immobile desktop computer? It gets no love. Yet with just a little TLC – and without time-consuming, high-tech maneuvers – it can last for many more years without showing any sign of its age. Here’s how…

1. Don’t delay the defrag

If you’re like most people and use a Windows-based PC, one of the simplest things you can do requires the least amount of time and shows the most immediate results. It’s defragging.

That’s short for a utility called Disk Defragmenter. While tech geeks will hate this simplified explanation, defragging condenses all the bytes of information that have been spread all over your hard drive when you repeatedly save and delete files. By putting that info back into neat rows, your older computer can access it much faster. The newer the computer – with its latest tech and bigger hard drives – the less a defrag helps.

If you’re still running Windows XP, Microsoft explains the process for defragging. IF you’re using Windows 2000, Microsoft recommends this.  Or you can simply Google the process for your particular computer. But be warned: While defragging doesn’t take a lot of your time to initiate, it can take a lot of time for your computer to complete – sometimes an entire afternoon. While you can continuing working while defragging, it’s best to do it when you’re not – so set it up for overnight or when you’re going to be away from your desk-top for a while.

2. Clean that registry

This one is a tad more complex, which is why those survey results showed that 43 percent of PC owners would rather change a baby’s dirty diaper than clean their computer’s registry.

The Windows registry is simply a list of all the information about your computer – all the different software programs, the kind of hardware and any special settings. Without that regisrty, the various parts of your computer can’t talk to each other. Over time, spyware and viruses can corrupt your registry. Also, if you’ve improperly removing a program instead of uninstalling it, that can leave behind other useless and space-filling files.

And since Windows looks to see what’s in the registry when it performs many functions, all those extra files slows things down. If one of these files has become corrupt, it takes even longer.

Streamlining your registry by deleting these unnecessary (or even dangerous) files will speed up your computer just like a defrag. But whatever you do, don’t let anyone but a qualified computer technician convince you, “Yeah, I can do that for you.” Deleting the wrong files from the registry can lock up your computer. Microsoft offers a free registry cleaner. Follow that procedure to the letter, and you’ll see a big difference.

3. Make a date to update

Older PC owners who upgraded to the Windows Vista operating system a few years ago were irked when their machines couldn’t handle the bloated program. Many returned to Windows XP, 2000 or even older versions. But there are different versions of the latest operating system, Windows 7, that may work for you, depending on the age and configuration of your machine. And while tech guys will hate to hear me say it, if your old system still works for you, stick with it until you can afford to replace it.

Regrettably, many of those people are still using an old web browser to surf the Internet. An upgrade there will make a noticeable difference. According to Netmarketshare.com statistics, the third most popular web browser is Internet Explorer 6.0 – which is eight years and two versions old. About 16 percent of all people online are slogging through web pages designed to be seen with newer technology.

Your old machine might not be able to handle Internet Explorer 9, which Microsoft just released in beta form. But there are other alternatives that might speed up those slow-loading web pages. You might want to try…

The best advice here is to pick the one you feel most comfortable with, because any of the three are better than the IE6 you’re using now.

Of course, there’s more drastic action you can take, like swapping out your hard drive and adding more memory. But that involves cracking open your machine, and if you’re a casual computer user, that’s as scary as performing open-heart surgery on yourself.

Still, it might be worth hiring a local tech to make these upgrades. Sure, you can buy a new PC for as little as $500, but if you can improve your old computer for half that, it’s worth the money, and you save space in a landfill. I should know. I’m typing this on an iMac I bought in January 2003.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!


Read Next: 10 Key Facts to Test Your Credit Card IQ

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,071 more deals!