When you think about it, computers are more or less miraculous in their ability to transform how we all live our lives, and conduct business. Only a few short years ago, in the grand scheme of things, computers were little more than glorified (and pretty slow) word processors.
These days, our computers are our portals to a world of endless possibility and processing power, that can transform how we live our lives, how we engage in leisure time, and how we conduct our work. What’s more, computing technology has been growing exponentially for a good number of years now, and there’s little telling what the future might hold.
Unfortunately, for all the great possibilities presented by computers, there are a good number of potential frustrations that we are all likely to face as well. Just look at this top 10 IT issues list, for example.
As more and more of us these days rely on our computers for just about everything we do in life, we are increasingly inconvenienced when something goes wrong. A lagging computer, or a virus ridden one, can seriously throw our entire lives into a state of disarray if we’re not careful.
Here are a few basic tips for improving your experience with your computer, to ensure that it continues to serve you, rather than vice versa.
Opt for the most powerful machine you can afford
One of the remarkable things about computers these days, is that they come in so many different shapes and sizes, not to mention at so many different price points.
When people are shopping for computers, they will often give a good deal of thought to how portable the device is, how good it looks, whether or not it can double up as a tablet for easy TV or film viewing in bed, and so on.
This is all very well, but if you plan on using your computer for anything a bit more resource intensive – such as for running video editing programs, playing video games, and so on – there’s a good argument to be made that one of your top priorities should be obtaining the most powerful machine you can afford.
In other words, focus on getting a computer that has the most RAM possible, the best graphics card, the fastest processor, et cetera. It’s also worth considering that, as a rule, desktop computers with their larger components will always run more smoothly and more reliably than portable devices such as laptops and tablets with equivalent specs.
There’s not a lot that’s going to be more frustrating to you than a computer that fails to perform as required when you put it to the test. And, certainly, no one wants to have to invest in a new machine every couple of years because the old one became redundant and was no longer up to the task of running the latest software programs.
If you want your computer to be as versatile as possible, while being as little of a source of frustration to you as possible, and also being significantly “future-proofed,” get the most powerful machine you can afford, and ideally make it a desktop.
In addition to the fact that desktop components typically just last longer and perform better, they also tend to be modular, and can be replaced individually, as opposed to you needing to buy an entirely new computer whenever a single component fails.
Install as few programs as you can get away with
Obviously, one of the great selling points of computers these days is that they frequently have an enormous storage capacity, and can manage a huge number of different programs as a result.
The issue, however, is that the more programs you install on your computer, the more you can expect performance to suffer. There are various reasons for why this happens.
Firstly, installing too many programs on your computer can cause performance to suffer, because many of those programs will run on start-up – or at least, run certain processes on start-up that may operate in the background, without necessarily being visible to you. This automatically utilises more processing power and causes your computer to lag and take longer to boot up.
Secondly, installing too many programs runs the risk of depleting your computer’s memory stores, which can then create poor performance in its own right, while also cluttering up the computer’s registry, and creating an array of digital “clutter” and “waste products” that can only be partly addressed by, for example, running a system defrag.
In addition to these points, however, it’s also the case that installing too many programs on your computer can simply lead to a latent psychological sense of being overwhelmed, and confronted by “clutter” and “chaos” in general. Ideally, you want the experience of logging onto your computer to feel empowering, rather than discordant and confusing.
Use your computer as a machine for “focused” tasks, rather than multitasking
Following on from the previous point here, have you ever noticed that when you have a dozen or more different tabs open on your web browser, you just feel a bit more stressed, distracted, and unable to properly focus?
In his book, “Digital Minimalism,” Cal Newport points out that the original personal computers were basically mono-task devices. That is, they could do one thing at a time, and were in no way fit for running multiple tasks simultaneously.
One consequence of computers becoming “multitasking” devices, instead, argues Newport, is that they help to promote scattered thinking, and contribute to a persistent sense of distraction and unease.
Indeed, there’s some research to indicate that the distracted way in which we currently consume digital content may actually lead to brain changes that correlate with a higher risk of experiencing ADHD symptoms.
Using your computer as a “single-task” machine, for “focused” work rather than distracted multitasking, may help to improve your sense of well-being, while also ensuring that your computer runs more smoothly.