Economists, scientists, and environmental advocates agree that one of the positive steps which can be taken to lessen the impact that humans have on Earth’s resources and fragile environment is to conserve the use of energy. A personal greentech energy reduction effort can begin at desktops by reducing the power needed to operate computers; conserving energy and saving money. Increasing the efficiency of a computer can be accomplished through routine maintenance steps easily integrated into everyday computing habits, without requiring the purchase of expensive additional memory, a faster hard drive, or upgrading a CPU (central processing unit).
Whether you’re a PC or Mac user consider these basic housekeeping measures that can reduce memory use, limit the number of active processes running, or free up drive space, thus allowing your system to run more efficiently:
- Run up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs. Malicious programs could run undetected in the background of a computer and slow down its’ operation.
- Keep the drivers for peripherals and other hardware up-to-date. Use the auto update feature. Poorly maintained drivers can slow down a computer considerably or cause it to crash altogether.
- Empty “temporary” files folder. This folder (directory) exits on a hard drive to store webpages, images, audio and video files, or other content from the websites that are visited. Large files in this folder may bog down a computer on start up so they should be deleted.
- Empty Recycle/Trash bin. Without occasional monitoring this temporary holding area for files intended for eventual deletion can accumulate content quickly and consume memory.
- Clean up the hard drive. The cost of external drives and USB flash drives is now very reasonable, transferring files to them from a hard drive is an easy way to expand a computer’s storage capacity and speed up its’ operating system.
- Eliminate any pre-installed programs that are not routinely used. Many systems are purchased with a variety of programs pre-installed; if they are not used then uninstall them. Of course check with an IT tech first before deleting any files or programs that you may not be familiar with, they may be important to the system.
- Power down or off. Power management options have been incorporated into modern operating systems, consider these guidelines when using them:
- Power down monitors after 10 minutes (or less) of inactivity.
- Turn off hard drives after 20 minutes of inactivity.
- Set a desktop computer or laptop to go into a standby/sleep/suspend mode after 60 minutes of inactivity.
- Control the programs that are loaded at start up -
- Cut down on the number of text fonts being loaded if they are not routinely used.
- Clean up Recent Items or Recent Documents files.
- Get rid of languages and translations not routinely used.
Platform Specific Tips
- Rearrange data - Windows includes a Disk Defragmenter program. Defragmenting is something that everyone knows should be done but many people fail to do it.
- Clean up disk errors - Windows operating system includes a Disk Check feature.
- To check for the latest software updates available for a Windows operating system visit: http://update.microsoft.com
Related UH Information Resources
If you have questions concerning the greening of your computer system search for options using the AskUs feature on the Information Technology Services (ITS) webpage; or contact the ITS Help Desk at (808) 956-8883 or (800) 558-2669 from the neighbor islands to request assistance in evaluating your computer's performance. Tips on the efficient use of additional office equipment such as a printer, scanner, photocopier, or fax machine can be found in the InfobITS article Sustainability In The Workplace.
While many of the aforementioned computer files, programs, and processes may individually consume only a minor amount of memory, if eliminated or reduced in combination they can free up a significant portion of memory, increase efficiency, conserve energy, and save money. It only takes a few minutes out of a daily computing routine to think green!