How to Fix Your College Computer by Yourself

You’re sitting in your college dorm room listening to mp3s that you’ve downloaded and trying to finish that 6-page term paper, when suddenly your computer freezes.  You try everything you can think of but nothing seems to work.  You end up having to shut off your computer and restart….just hoping that your college econ 101 assignment isn’t lost forever.

Do you want to learn how you can avoid these problems with simple things anyone can do (rather than bringing them to a computer specialist and paying tons of money)?   I’ve compiled a list of things college students can do in their dorm room in order to help protect against computer problems.

1. Get anti-virus software and update it frequently!  This is one of the most important things you can do.  Since most dorms have Ethernet, cable or dsl access for college students, this can leave unsuspecting students open to virus attacks.  This may cost you $30 or more for a year of coverage, but it is well worth it.  Once it’s installed, activate any “automatic update” features it has so you don’t have to remember to update it yourself.  Make sure to check with your college or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to see if they offer free anti-virus software before you buy it yourself (many colleges now offer it for free along with other independent ISPs).  You can always download the free version of AVG from http://free.avg.com or the free version of Avast from http://www.Avast.com.

 2. Get firewall software.  Firewall software is a program that monitors activity over your college computer’s internet or network connections.  It allows you to see who you are sending information to and how is sending you information.  This is also important software to have when you have a cable, dsl, or Ethernet connection, because the connection is “always on”.  This open connection can allow hackers or other back programs to use or damage your computer without your knowledge.  You can think of firewall software as a smoke detector for your computer.  Note:  Windows XP comes with built in firewall software.  Otherwise you can find free firewall software online that will work just fine.

 3. Download an anti-spyware program.  Spyware and adware are all programs that are running on your computer (usually without your knowledge) and use up your computer resources so they can collect information about you.  These programs not only slow down your computer, but they also share can your personal and private information.  The two main programs used to get rid of these spyware programs are Adaware (http://www.lavasoft.de) and Search and Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org).  Both programs are free and help tremendously.

 4. Get rid of unused programs.  Unused programs just take up space on your computer.  If you aren’t going to use them…throw them out.  Simply go to the “Control Panel” selection under the “Start” menu and open the “Add/Remove Programs icon. 



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5. Defragment the hard drive.  Think of your hard drive as a deck of cards that starts in order by suit and number.  As you use the computer you begin pulling different files (or cards in my analogy) from the stack and placing them on top of the deck.  As you save new information it is saved to new cards and placed on the top of the deck again. Over time the deck of cards is all out of order and it’s harder to find the cards (programs) that you need.  Defragmenting the hard drive is like taking the deck of cards and reorganizing them again.  This should be done 2-3 times a month.  Simply click the Start menu, then “All Programs” than “Accessories” and finally “System Tools”.

 6. Download and Install Windows Updates.  You can do this by going to http://www.WindowsUpdate.microsoft.com.  They will provide you with the latest fixes to bugs and security flaws that the operating system has.  It is advisable to use automatic updates for your dorm computer so you don’t have to remember to do this.

 7. Clean up the Registry on your Dorm PC.  Another thing that can cause many problems on your college pc is a dirty registry.  Fixing the registry will speed up your computer.  Try the free CCleaner from www.CCleaner.com or Glary Registry Repair from www.GlarySoft.com/rr.html.

 8. Remove Malware.  Though you may think this is the same as spyware, it’s not.  These are programs and things that are running secretly on your computer and possibly sending information about you back to the internet.  Try Malwarebytes free anti-malware program available at www.MalwareBytes.org

 9. Purchase and Install more Ram (Memory).  Memory prices have dropped dramatically and an increase in memory can help your computer operate faster and more efficiently. If you are unsure how to install RAM contact your computer manufacturer tech support or ask a fellow college student.

 10. Remember smoking is bad for computers.  The smoke from cigarettes can coat the components on the inside of the computer with a film.  Overtime the film gets thicker and thicker and cause the computer to overheat as well as other problems..

 11. Install a pop-up blocker.  Pop-up windows slow down your computer and can mislead you into making changes  to your system  You can find many free pop-up blockers including Google’s toolbar that will solve this problem.

       12.  Be Patient.  If things are working the way you’d like, let the computer sit for 10 minutes and see if it works then.         If not, shut off the computer and wait for 10 minutes and then try restarting.

 13.  When in doubt – Ask someone.  Look for help from your roommates, dorm mates, classmates, etc.  They are a tremendous resource.  Also ask your college if they offer technical support.  Many colleges do and they will help you fix any problems you have.





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