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Tune Up Your PC as a Favor to Mother Earth

If you're like most people, you make resolutions only at New Year's, a time known for well-intentioned but short-lived changes. But why not make an Earth Day resolution -- a resolution that may actually stick? Anyone who marvels at the perfection of life regenerating on a bright spring day is aware at some level of the tremendous damage modern lifestyles have done, creating a toxic burden that Mother Earth can no longer carry. A few small personal changes can go a long way towards keeping our troubled planet a little cleaner and more toxin-free. While it's common to think of eco-friendly lifestyle changes in terms of old standbys like switching out incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents, or buying products packaged in post-consumer recycled paper, often living a greener lifestyle has more to do with what we don't buy, and what we don't add to our neighborhood landfills.

Going genuinely green ultimately means considering every purchase and asking ourselves if we can't make what we have last longer before we toss it aside. This is particularly true when what we're thinking of throwing out has a significant impact on the land it decays in. For example, most of us would be surprised to learn that one of the major sources of landfill toxicity is that harmless-looking PC sitting on your desk. In a 2002 article entitled "Where Computers Go to Die" Karl Shoenberger details the toxins that lurk in the average PC. From hexavalent chromium in the steel plates of the chassis, to PVC in the cables and shell, to lead solder, not to mention beryllium, mercury and cadmium; we're talking about a grouping of toxic metals and compounds that you really don't want decomposing into the ground at your local landfill.

Of course you could find an electronics recycler for your old computer, then go ahead and buy that shiny new one. But if you really want to shrink your trash footprint and lighten your earth-impact, here are some easy steps you can take to keep the PC you already have performing like new for years. Remember, putting off replacing your PC for even a year decreases the burden on landfills and may increase the chances that researchers will find new, even more earth-friendly options for recycling it next year, or the year after that.

So if you're thinking about keeping your PC longer, what are your key strategies for extending its life? KEEP IT CLEAN Keeping your PC's insides free of component-clogging dust buildup can help prolong processor life, as well as eliminating a major household allergen and the number one cause of PC fires. You'll need a handheld vacuum and a can of compressed air, available at any office supply store. Back up your data, then turn off the power to your PC. Disconnect the power cord, mouse, speakers, and other peripherals. If possible, take your laptop or PC tower outside, or at least to a well-lit, ventilated area. Open your PC case according to the manufacturer's instructions.

VERY IMPORTANT: Touch the edge of the metal chassis to disperse static electricity before you touch internal PC components. Run the vacuum along, but not actually touching PC's internal surfaces. Hold fan blades still when dusting or vacuuming them, as high-speed air may make them spin faster than they're meant to. Use the canned compressed air to blow out the remaining dust. Be certain to clear any dust on the grill at the back of the PC.

Close the case and you're done! KEEP IT FAST People being what we are, the extent to which we actively participate in recycling and thinking green has a lot to do with how satisfying the results are. In other words, it's a lot easier to practice the three Rs: Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle, when we don't feel like we're losing out by making the trade-off from our former, wasteful ways. When it comes to your PC, one of the most important factors is how fast and responsive it is. Suggesting to someone that he hold on to his current PC for another year after he's waited an hour for one song to download is going to be a losing battle.

So what are the green options for boosting PC performance? LIKE A CAR, A PC NEEDS TUNEUPS A PC running Windows has characteristic operating patterns that inevitably cause junk files, errors and more to accumulate in its system. A 2007 - 2008 sample of over 500,000 computers worldwide shows the most common issues: REGISTRY AND HARD DRIVE ERRORS, CLUTTER, AND FRAGMENTATION Your PC's Registry contains all the information used by your Windows operating system, including user profiles and settings for software and hardware. With daily use, clutter, errors, and fragmentation build up, creating needless performance obstacles. In addition, over 26 of PCs surveyed had default Windows settings that didn't work optimally for their particular internet connection. The result? Downloads that take forever, and super-slow page loading times when surfing the net. SO HOW DO YOU TUNE UP A PC? The most effective way to bring back peak performance is to correct these routine problems that are an inevitable part of PC functioning, then optimize settings and functions so the same problems don't recur every few weeks or months.

This can be achieved quickly and amazingly easily by purchasing a comparatively inexpensive type of software called a PC tuneup utility. It's a lot less expensive than buying a new PC ? and the most green-friendly part? Often you can skip the whole "get in the car, waste gas, and add smog to the air" portion of buying software and simply purchase it in downloadable form over the internet. No packaging, no tree-demolishing paper manuals, just a couple of clicks and you and your PC can live in green harmony for years to come. See? Thanks to you, Earth Day resolutions may be the next big thing!.

Jeri Bleeker writes for iolo technologies, maker of System Mechanic PC Tune-up utility. Ms. Bleeker has 15 years of marketing experience, and over 10 years of various experience in the technology sector.

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