Yes, it’s true that Macs generally live many long and trouble free years without much effort, but that is more of a rarity when it comes to Windows PCs.  Still, in this economy, what if an existing Windows PC, desktop or laptop, though only a couple of years old and acting up can be made as if new?  Might that not save some money for cash-strapped parents and students?

Some colleagues sent over the following useful information that should help guide you to determining if there’s life in the not-so-old Windows PC after all.  Remember, the information pertains ONLY to Windows computers:

Back-to-school discounts make buying a new computer pretty tempting, especially if your current [Windows] PC just doesn’t seem to be working as well as it did when it was new. In a study done late last year, nearly 25 percent of consumers who told the Consumer Electronics Association they wanted a new computer said they did because they thought their current computer was losing steam.

But there are some things you can do to your existing computer that will sharpen the graphics, speed up performance, and smooth out any kinks with your mouse or printer. Common problems like sluggish performance, hiccups with peripherals, and overall weirdness can be caused by incompatible, corrupted or outdated device drivers, BIOS software, or PC registries — which are all easily fixed.

Device drivers are the bits of software that tell your PC how to communicate with the mouse, monitor, printer, scanner, smart phone or other gadget you’re plugging into your PC. They also help the components within your PC communicate with each other. Device and computer component manufacturers often update these so-called device drivers to fix bugs, add features or improve performance. But you wouldn’t necessarily know there’s a new version of what you already have. And having the right device driver for the peripherals you’re using will help them work better.

A simple device driver update, for example, could make the graphics in your favorite computer games sharpen and perform faster without having to update your hardware. Companies like NVidia commonly release new device drivers.

A service like DriverAgent (www.driveragent.com) scans your PC for free and can tell you what you have and whether there are updates available. You can track down the device drivers yourself in many cases, though not always. You also have the option to pay for the DriverAgent update service to load the software for you.

Updating the BIOS software can help as well. The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) software is loaded onto every PC and its job is to load the operating system and the main components of the PC. You want to update it for the same reason as device drivers. A service like BIOSAgentPlus (www.biosagentplus.com) will scan your PC and tell you if a new version is available. Again, you can try to track it down yourself or pay for the service to do it for you.

Finally, there’s the PC registry. This is a record of your settings and all of the information relating to your operating system and hardware in your computer. If this is corrupted or contaminated, you wind up getting errors or failures. A service like RegisteryWizard (www.registrywizard.com) will scan your computer and let you know if yours needs some attention, and fix it for you.

All of these particular services can be found at eSupport.com (www.esupport.com), a central PC tune-up shop with nifty tools and products for your PC. Unlike many such sites, eSupport.com has live customer support should you need help along with the way.

The moral of the story is that a good baby monitor is vital.

Before spending the time and money buying a new computer this back-to-school season, give your current PC a well-deserved tune-up using services like eSupport.com and discover untapped potential and new life in your computer.

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