Computer Going Slow? Don’t Ditch It, Fix It!

Newer, faster, bigger — it seems like the makers of computers and gadgets want us to see them as disposable. Why bother fixing it, just replace it!

Yet we like our stuff — we are comfortable with how it works, and while it may not be the flashiest, it gets the job done. Who wants to have to learn how to use something new? Of course, budget-savvy Nerds are always looking for ways to save some dough, and fixing what we have is a great way to do it. Before you grab your trusty credit card to run out to replace that sluggish computer or unreliable gadget, let us show you some simple steps to fix it, not ditch it.

Who knew that something as simple as dusting out your computer could make it last longer? That fan drawing in air to keep your system cool also sucks in dirt, pet hair and all sorts of nasties that can clog, and eventually break, your machine. Canned air is sold at any office supply store for about $5 and can save you the expense and inconvenience of a major repair. Don’t just blow into the intake vent: open the case, don’t blow air too closely at the components, and blow dust away from the case. Does it sound like a jet is taking off when your computer is running? Consider replacing the case cooling fan. Doing one or both of these steps can help your system to run more quietly and increase the life of your PC. You can follow the how-to guide at

The complaint we hear most about computer performance is that it’s not fast enough. If you’ve run your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs and ruled out some nasty bug slowing down your system, adding more RAM can be one of the easiest ways to improve the speed of your “old reliable.” It can seem daunting, even for a Nerd Chick (wait, you want me to get a screwdriver, take apart my computer’s case, and then figure out the kind I need?). Before you tune out and figure it’s beyond you, check out the easy-to-follow instructions at While it’s true that there are about a hundred kinds of RAM, and all have very weird cryptic names (what normal person knows what DDR means?), there are websites that can tell you everything you need with just the make and model number of your machine. RAM manufacturer Crucial has a three-step RAM finder and it guarantees compatibility if you use its “Advisor Tool” (

Now that so many of the gadgets we use every day are portable and rechargeable, batteries can make or break the reliability of our cell phones, laptops, handheld gaming devices and remote controls. Yet the fact that they aren’t running off Duracells can make the thought of replacing them intimidating. It’s actually a very easy, often very inexpensive, way to increase the life span of your electronics. Just search for “battery for …” and the make and model of your device at Amazon or Google. Don’t worry about getting a non-branded version — they usually work just fine. Another tip to get the most out of your new battery: the first time you use it and then every month or two, let it totally run down and then fully recharge it. This will extend the cell life of the battery.

As moms of toddlers, we are constantly on guard against our DVDs and Xbox games getting used as Frisbees, or some sort of child shuffleboard piece. Knowing we will not always be successful in our diversion tactics, we were excited to find a disc repair kit that can fix DVDs, games, and CDs from SkipDr: It makes a disc repair kit for under $40 that is reported to work on about 50 discs and you can get refill kits to repair more. Thank goodness we can stop buying new copies of “Finding Nemo.”

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