Cool Down Your Computer
Your computer’s hard drive, as well as many of its other components, is sensitive to temperature. Extended periods of use or a faulty cooling fan can cause overheating, which will, in turn, wreak havoc on the circuits. Errors may be solved if you simply turn off your PC and let it rest for a while. Cleaning the cooling fan with light, pressurized air (never vacuum your PC’s internals) is also advisable so that dirt doesn’t build up and interfere with its operation.
Clean Your Registry
A damaged registry can cause fatal errors, as this is where a lot of system information and settings are stored. Cleaning your registry of unnecessary or corrupted data can thus fix problems, or even prevent them from happening if it is performed regularly. It is possible to repair and clean your registry using any of a number of cleaning programs that can be downloaded for free. The user interfaces of this type of software are usually friendly and unintimidating, so you should have no trouble putting them into operation.
Be Aware of Your Programs
It will help a lot if you make yourself aware of the programs that are running on your computer. These aren’t necessarily limited to the ones that you opened during a particular session: a lot of software, particularly freeware that you download from the Net, perform background operations that could be clogging up your computer’s RAM and causing performance issues. Be sure to remove programs that you no longer use, and properly shut down software once you’re finished with it.
Check for Malware
It is easy to point the finger at malware when something goes wrong with your PC, and, in a lot of cases, you wouldn’t be wrong to put the blame on a virus, Trojan, or spyware that somehow slipped past your defenses. When you see a system error, run a full virus scan with your anti-malware program to see if it can pick up anything. If you have neglected to install an antivirus, remedy the problem immediately: many of the most reliable brands offer trials or free versions of their programs that offer adequate protection.
Defragment Your Hard Drive
As your hard drive fills up, it will begin to have a little more difficulty finding space on which to store your programs and files. It often happens that the data for a certain file or software gets spread out over several different locations on the drive, and this can cause problems when you call that particular information up. If you are using versions of Windows earlier than Windows 7, you should perform defragmentation regularly to prevent this from happening. The option to defragment should present itself when you open “Properties” after right clicking on the drive in Windows Explorer.
If all else fails, it may be time to restore or even reinstall your operating system. Restoration will take your system back to a point at which it was still functional, while reinstallation will give you a clean slate, so to speak. Both of these can be performed with your Windows Installation CD, though you should be warned that reinstallation is a lengthy and tedious process that will erase all your existing files and require you to reinstall all your other programs. Only do this if you are sure that you have no other option.