Don't get a new computer yet.

I have heard a common statement from many different Realtors® over the last few years that I wanted to share with you for consideration.  During my day I may help up to twenty people with technical issues or training on their PropertyMinder AccelerAgent Real Estate Websites.  “My computer is slow.  I’m going to buy a new one soon.” is the statement I get from time to time.  When I find out that their computer is maybe a year or two old, I am sorry that they have to get rid of what is still a new computer to me.

While assisting these clients and walking them through their question, step by step, I often have to wait for their computers to catch up to mine.  I would love to say that this is because my work computer is a water cooled quad core monster running a raid system and…. well… I would love to say it, but that isn’t the case.  My work computer suits my needs and is quite average.  In fact, CNET rated my computer back in 2005 as ‘quite average’.  So why is mine so fast in comparison to the ones I come across in my duties?  There are a few possibilities, but the one I want to focus on are a couple of the correctable ones.  Computer software overhead, Adware/spyware and fragmentation.

When I start up my computer, a few icons will appear in the lower right hand corner by the clock.  Each of these icons is attached to a program that is in a best case scenario, passively running and taking up some of my computers speed.  Some of these icons may be worth the speed exchange though.  My virus program, instant messenger and a couple of other icons that I use throughout the day are in my tray, totaling to four.  As with golf, you want a lower number.  Find out what the icons in your lower right are doing and if it is not something that you are constantly using, then see if the icon can be disabled.  In some cases, there is a way to hide the icon.  Hiding it is not turning it off, so hiding them will not improve your speed.  Deactivation of the non-essential icons is the best solution for you.

When you visit places on the internet, you are exposing your computer to malignant programs that will attack you without you doing anything more than visiting a website.  This has been an ongoing issue that is growing.  How can you protect yourself against a site that does this?  I have two favorites I suggest.  One is the free version of AVG.  It can check sites automatically for you and verify the sites safety.  Another that will check you out and prevent you from being able to go to known bad sites isSpybot.  Both of these products are free and can help with the adware, spyware and malignant program issues that you can come across in the great online unknown.  Some people recommend McAfee or Norton Utilities.  I have no issue with either company but I like the simplicity and size of AVG.  To me, my computer feels as if it is running much faster just using AVG as opposed to when I last ran either of the other two programs.

Now let’s check on your storage and fragmentation.  A computers data is held on a hard drive.  If the hard drive has at least 1/4 of its capacity left open, this is a good thing.  A computer that is a hairs breath from being full will have issues.  Dump unnecessary files.  Get a USB2 External Hard Drive or large capacity USB Flash Drive for data storage.  Clean up your space.  Once cleaned up, you can go to the properties of your LocalDisk (C:) and click on the tools tab.  There is a built in defragmentation program that you can use that will re-integrate fragmented files.  This isn’t something that you need to run every week.  I run mine once every couple of months.

Do your updating now!  So many times I come across people who have not updated their operating system for years.  Open your Explorer window, go to the tools menu and click on Windows Update.  Do what it says and download your updates.  If it has been a while, then it is going to take a while.

Probably about once every year or so, for my home systems, I do a complete reformatting of my computer and reloading of the software I still use on a regular basis.  This is no small feat and usually takes several hours of a day, but my computer at home runs many times faster than my work computer.  It is set up for nothing but speed.  I don’t suggest this method for anyone who has not done it before.  If you have a spare computer or if you already purchased a new computer, try doing this to the old one and see how much you can improve the speed of that system.

General tips and tricks on operating system cleanup and such are one of the covered points of the PropertyMinder TECH-MAR Clinic.  PropertyMinder has helped thousands of Real Estate Agents and Brokers quickly adjust to the post-Internet reality. The TECH-MAR Clinic is the stepping stone of many agents that are uncomfortable with technology, as well as those who are already tech savvy, but want to learn new techniques in the market.

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