Some Free Computer Advice

Using Online Auction Sites to Save Money

The most important advice to give to the gaming computer builders is to check Ebay or Amazon for computer parts. This is a great way to save money if you are not bothered by purchasing used components. Potentially, you can get a great part for half the retail price. The key is to make sure the user selling the part has a very high positive feedback (99% or higher) and has at least 50 feedback reviews. Both of these are important in finding a good seller. You want to avoid a seller who has just started using Ebay and is maybe unsure of how it all works. Also, you want a seller that consistently receives high feedback from previous customers. Avoid the bad ones at all costs! Below is an example of a good seller on Ebay. The "68" indicates the number of reviews and the "100%" shows the percentage of good reviews received.

Example of a good seller on Ebay

Also, check and see if the component has everbeen overclocked. If it doesn't specifically say, send the user a message asking if it has been overclocked previously. Essentially, overclocking is when you set the component (video card, CPU, etc.) to operate at a speed faster than the manufacturer designed it to. However, it can wear the part out and eventually render it unusable. For this reason, I avoid purchasing previously overclocked parts.

Another tip when shopping on Ebay is to buy from a seller who shows the actual item in the description and not just a stock photo. I like to see the actual component I'm bidding on rather than just a generic photo. This way if there is any damage or signs of wear on it, you'll know ahead of time rather than being angrily surprised when you open the box.

By using the advice mentioned above, I can safely say that I've saved well over two hundred dollars building a computer in this fashion. I purchased a BFG NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 video card for $65 and $10 shipping when the card retailed at stores for about $130 at the time. Granted the card I received was used but it has never been overclocked and I've been using it for the last 6 months with no issues at all. This Ebay strategy can be used for any part including hard drives, video cards, memory and even CPUs.

Improving Computer Speed and Performance

Computer speed and overall quickness is very important to any computer user. Whether you are surfing the web, editing an image in Paint, or playing solitaire, a fast computer makes this experience much more enjoyable. Does your computer seem to run slow lately? Does it take a long time to open up program files? Is it not performing the way you'd like it to? If yes to any of these questions, then this guide is for you. This guide provides several ways to help improve your computer's performance and speed and it only takes a little bit of time.

The first and easiest way to increase your computer speed is to defragment the hard drive. When you save a file on the hard drive, they are stored according to the next available space. When you delete files, remnants of the file remain in place and over time, this constant saving and deleting of files result in fragmentation, which is the left over files and this leads to slower computer performance. It is recommended to defragment the hard drive every month or more frequently if possible.

Defragmenting a hard drive is very easy to do. For Windows XP users, click on the Start icon, program files, accessories, system tools, disk defragmenter. For Windows Vista and Windows 7 users, click the Windows orb and enter “Disk Defragmenter” in the search box and open the program. Choose “Analyze Disk” from the options provided and view the results. If the results show lots of red rectangles indicating a lot of fragmentation, it is time to defragment the drive to improve the computer's performance. Click on the defragment button to start the process.

Another way to improve computer performance is to remove unnecessary programs stored on the hard drive. Old and unused programs can clutter up the drive and slow down performance. To remove older programs from your computer, go to the control panel by clicking on start, settings, control panel. Then choose the “Add/Remove Programs” button. A list will be populated with all the currently installed program files on your computer. Click on a program once you want to remove and then click the “Uninstall” button.

Uninstalling a Program

The last great way to improve your computer speed is to add more memory. This involves opening the computer up and adding or upgrading another RAM module. For a detailed guide on upgrading computer memory, please see the memory installation guide. There are two tell-tale signs that your computer needs more memory. First, if your computer constantly accesses the hard drive (indicated by the hard drive activity light consistently flashing) and general slow response to opening programs or switching windows.

Adding memory to a computer is very easy. First, download the CPU ID program for free from

CPU ID in action

Next, install the program and on the top menu choices, select SPD. This will tell you the speed and type of memory you currently have installed. However, always consult with your motherboard manual to see how many memory slots you have available and what speed and type of memory is supported. Go to a retailer and purchase more memory. Once you are done, turn on the computer and open up programs that would previously take awhile to open. If it works faster, congratulations!

Having a slow computer is truly frustrating. However, there are several steps you can take to combat a sluggish computer. Begin by defragmenting the hard drive and removing unused program files. If after trying these measures and you don't see an increase in speed, try adding more memory. This last step usually improves the computer's performance dramatically.

Please see for more tips on how to fix a slow computer.

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