Prevent computer rage with a basic tune-up that will improve overall speed and performance. Photo courtesy of stuartpilbrow. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.Unless you got a shiny new laptop while back-to-school shopping this year, it’s likely that your PC or Mac could use some routine maintenance before classes start. With time and use, a computer’s hard drive gets bogged down with junk and sometimes begins to suffer from performance-impacting errors. Since your laptop will probably be one of the most important tools in your college student workflow, it’s a good idea to tweak it back into optimal condition before the first day of class. These tips will have your PC or Mac running faster and smoother in no time.


Free up space on your hard drive Error logs, browser caches, downloaded program files and everything in your Recycle Bin or Trash can usually be deleted with no side effects. Just to be safe, it’s a good idea to perform a hard-drive back up before you start deleting away.

  • Do this on a PC: From the Start menu, click on Programs> Accessories> System Tools> Disk Cleanup. Check the boxes for the files you want to delete. Click OK and then Delete Files.
  • Do this on a Mac: There is no built in cleanup utility on a Mac, but you can use third-party apps like Onyx (freeware) or CleanmyMac ($14.95). For a download-free solution: empty the trash, go to ~/Library/Application Support and delete all the folders for uninstalled apps, and clear your browser cache.

Clean out the list of apps that autoload when you login to your computer account Sitting there staring at your computer screen for five minutes while you wait for it to boot is probably not very conducive to productivity, and besides that, is severely annoying. If you’re experiencing slow bootup times, it’s likely that you will find some of the programs that have weaseled their way into the list of startup processes completely unnecessary. If you don’t know what a program does, make sure to look it up online before you assume it’s safe to disable. 

  • Do this on a PC: From the Start Menu, go to Run, type msconfig and hit enter. Under the “Start Up” tab, uncheck the unwanted programs and press OK.
  • Do this on a Mac: From the Apple menu, open System Preferences, click the Accounts icon, and then click the Login Items tab. Uncheck items to stop them from launching as a startup process with your Mac.

Check for disk errors Use diagnostic utilities included with your computer to repair some computer problems and improve your computer’s performance. 

  • Do this on a PC: Right-click on the “C” drive in “My Computer.” Select “Properties.” Click the Tools tab, and then, under Error-checking, click Check Now. Check the boxes next to “Automatically fix file system errors” and “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.” Click “Start.”
  • Do this on a Mac: In a Finder window, go to ~/Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility and double click the “Disk Utility” application. Highlight “Macintosh HD” in the sidebar and click “Repair Disk Permissions.”