Every year, Americans toss over a quarter of a ton of computers into the trash. They eventually
wind up in landfills. What many people don’t realize is computers contain hazardous materials
such as chromium and lead, which can cause health problems.
How can you keep an old computer out of a landfill? By recycling of course, but an even better
way is to extend the lifespan of your computer.
Not long ago, computers had a lifespan of about 6 years. A decade ago computer upgrades
significantly improved their computing power and speed. Today’s computers can do most of
what 10-year-old computers can do. So there isn’t as big of a rush to replace an older computer
with a new one.
You can save money and the environment by keeping the computer you use now for another
few years. Here are a few tips to keep computers working past their prime:
The biggest culprits that kill computers too soon are viruses and spyware. Clicking on a
malicious link in an email or a website can install computer killers. Those links can look
legitimate and even be included in a Facebook or Google ad.
Install third-party antivirus and anti-malware programs to scan and monitor your machine as
you use it.
Windows and Macs have their own antivirus software and spyware blockers. Make sure they’re
installed and active.
Never give someone the remote control of your computer. These scammers might say they’re
with Microsoft. They’ll ask you to type a few letters in a box, so they can make repairs. Instead,
they’re installing viruses, spyware, and programs that steal your information. One computer repair expert friend told me most of the computers people bring to him are infected with malware from this tactic.
If your machine gets infected, don’t throw it away immediately. C-Cleaner is free software that
scans and cleans out the registry. After running that program, run an anti-malware program such
Or, take it to a trusted computer technician who, maybe for a couple of hundred dollars can get
it running again.
Keep the computer cool by cleaning out the vents with a can of compressed air.
Don’t turn off the computer every night, but do it once a week to install updates.
I found a complete reset can help a slow computer. Turn it off and unplug the power cable, wait
a few minutes or overnight, and start everything up again.
Lastly, upgrade the hard drive to a solid state or SSD. They don’t have spinning parts that can
go bad. Unless you know what you’re doing, find a computer repair shop that’ll install it for you.
Granted, you probably won’t want to spend $200 to repair a $300 computer. Recycle it.
Otherwise, save money and save the environment by keeping the computer you have for a few