In the tech world, there’s always something bigger, better and faster. But do you really need the latest everything? Sorry early adopters, you don’t if you take care of your gadgets.
When it comes to your computer, step one to making it last for the long haul is keeping cybercriminals at bay. Don’t be a victim. Tap or click here for 5 essential tricks to lock hackers out.
Next, fix one of the most annoying issues: slow internet. Tap or click for 10 ways to boost your Wi-Fi speed right now. You can thank me later.
If you have an older computer that isn’t cutting it anymore, don’t give it up as a lost cause. With a few simple tricks, you can fix it up almost like new. We’ll start with a good cleaning, inside and out.
1. Clean the right way
To clean up your screen or a camera lens, I like Windex Electronics Wipes. The anti-static cloths safely remove dust, smudges and fingerprints — and you can use them on any screen, so give your TV and phone a good wipe down while you’re at it.
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The quickest and safest way to remove dust and other debris is a can of compressed air. A few quick blasts and your keyboard is clean and ready to use. Follow the instructions on the can and never shake it before use.
Compressed air is also a useful tool to clean out dirt and debris from the ports on your desktop. Just don’t stick it directly into the ports. Stay about an inch away and spray at an angle so the dust and debris have room to escape.
TECH CLEANUP: I bet your TV is a mess, too. Check out my step-by-step maintenance guide. Tap or click here to find out if you’re making a big mistake when cleaning your television.
2. Clear the clutter
Is your desktop filled with countless files? It’s easy to get into the habit of saving anything and everything to your desktop, but it leads to a mountain of digital clutter. Time to organize all those thumbnails.
If you have files and programs you rarely or never use on your desktop, delete them. Simply right-click on the application or file and select Delete. This will not delete the program from your computer, but it will remove the shortcut from your desktop.
To organize everything else, move similar files into folders that make sense for you.
If all you need is a quick sort, don’t waste time dragging icons around your screen. Right-click the screen (not directly on an icon) and select Name, Size, File or Date modified under the Sort by option. For Mac users, check out Apple’s how-to guide. Now you can arrange your icons into neat rows.
Cache and cookies are temporary files your system creates when you visit a website, regardless of which browser you use. You need to routinely clean up these files to help your system run efficiently.
Old downloads, years of documents and thousands of photos can significantly slow down your system.
Keeping your files tidy is key to speed. Go through your documents and photos, and delete everything you don’t need. Yes, it’ll take some work on your end but it will make a difference.
Make the job easy with CCleaner. This cross-platform automatically cleans up your browser cookies, trackers, internet history, download history, cache and even individual session activity. Tap or click here to download CCleaner.
Last, but certainly not least, you must update your software and firmware regularly. Neglecting this puts you at the mercy of cybercriminals, which could prove fatal to your computer or even worse.
Don’t leave your system vulnerable. When you receive a notification that there’s an update available for your computer, install it right then or at least schedule your next update.
Here’s how to check for updates:
- Windows 10: Click the Windows icon in the lower-left corner of your desktop and tap on the Settings gear. Select Update & Security, then choose the available patch or update.
- Apple: Open the App Store app and tap Updates in the left sidebar. Choose an update to download, and you’re done.
With a little know-how and a bit of work, you can get a lot more out of your computer.
BONUS TIP FOR EXTRA KNOW-HOW: 3 simple steps to improve your TV’s picture quality
A common complaint I hear from readers is how disappointed they are after buying a new TV. The main problem? The picture quality just doesn’t live up to expectations.
It isn’t necessarily the TV’s fault, though. Any new TV can be a disappointment when you first get it home. That’s often because new TVs aren’t always calibrated correctly for your home’s lighting.
Fortunately, a better picture is just a few adjustments away.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.