Computer technology changes so quickly, it almost seems like today’s state-of-the-art might well be obsolete. Though few small-business owners can afford to be on the “cutting edge” of PC technology, they also don’t want to compromise their employees’ productivity with seemingly outmoded machines. As a result, they find themselves making periodic purchases of new hardware while the old machines pile up in a closet or corner.

L-A SCORE Chairman Jack Tetreault says, “Don’t consign those old PCs to the scrap heap just yet. There may be several ways you can coax more productivity out of what you already own, saving your business some money and easing the burden on the local landfill.”

PCs you own may have plenty of life left in them. But to get them in top shape can require a little attention. The longer a computer is used, the messier its hard drive can get. Viruses, outdated software, fragmented storage space and general clutter can turn a good piece of equipment into a real slowpoke.

So here are some good tune-up tips to get your slightly worn PCs and laptops back in action. Tetreault advises: “Remove old programs, temporary files and the Web browser’s cache, cookies and history. Empty the trash folder, and while you’re at it, clean the keyboard. Use your disk utilities to scan the hard drive for errors, fix any corrupt sectors and remove invalid registry entries or broken shortcuts.”

After that, defragment the hard drive. A hard drive is composed of many sections, known as sectors. As files are saved, they are often divided into parts that are scattered across the drive. This slows down the system because the file must be retrieved from different locations. Defragmenting brings the pieces back together again.

Scan the computer for viruses and update virus definitions. offers a full range of antivirus, anti-spam and problem-solving PC solutions. The Small Business Center section of their Web site has helpful, plain-English articles on computer maintenance.

Even with your best efforts, long-used computers may still suffer breakdowns – often when you need them the most. That’s why it is also important to back up data routinely on a separate storage medium and keep it in a secure area. That will prevent your business from being crippled by a crashed PC.

To learn more about starting or improving your small business, contact SCORE, a nonprofit association of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide confidential counseling and training workshops. Call L-A SCORE at 782-3708 for additional information and an appointment.

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