The PC optimization process does not just make your computer run more smoothly. It also has an impact on Mother Nature—and consumers’ bills, too! In this post, I’ll discuss the environmental benefits of PC optimization and how consumers can “go green” when it comes to Windows tuning.
What Is Green Computing?
To understand what green computing is and why it is so necessary, we must first look at the major drawbacks of the technology we use today. For example, refrigerators let out freons, and microwave ovens present similar dangers. Same with our modern means of transportation, like cars and planes: Although we’ve made huge improvements, they still pollute our environment.
Unfortunately, computers are not any greener. The more you leave your system powered on, the more negative the ecological footprint you produce. By not “powering down”, you also significantly add to your monthly energy bill. So, green computing simply is a practice that allows consumers to reduce their ecological (and even economical) footprint—and this can be easily achieved by making their PC habits more energy efficient.
Let’s Go Green: Defragmenting
Regular PC users are familiar with the term “defragmenting”, but did they know that this frequently used, Windows optimization technique can help them “go green”?
Fragmentation, according to Wikipedia is the inability of a file system to lay out related data sequentially for the fastest possible access. Fragmentation is an inherent phenomenon in most file systems to date.
The image shows how randomly data is written on a hard drive by Windows. The red blocks represent areas of high data fragmentation. Naturally, the hard drive will need more time to read these random bits of data. Now, when you defragment the hard drive, you simply put these bits in a more sequential order, which allows the hard drive to read them more quickly. And, that, of course, results in a better overall performance. In terms of green computing, this Windows tuning method enables consumers to save electrical energy, as faster PC performance and greater efficiency means less power and fewer resources used.
Clean Up Your PC Junk (and the Earth)
An average PC user browses dozens of Web sites daily and runs many applications on his or her computer on a regular basis. Add to this human curiosity, which leads us to install and try out a lot of software (containing a lot of junk!). Even if you uninstall these programs, the junk is often left behind. In addition, even software that you use on a daily basis adds to this garbage. Don’t believe me? Just press Windows+R, type in %temp%, and hit Return. I hope the results are convincing enough for you. Note: this is only the easiest of the obscure Windows temp folders to find. There are so many more places where junk data hides.
The image shows the amount of temporary junk data accumulated on a regularly used PC. The image is just a small portion of this huge trash heap. It’s really scary to think about how long this list would be if the machine was used for a month, without any sort of optimization tasks taken.
Now any regular tuning software would clear out this junk—including the most obscure data files. This not only makes more room on your hard drive for actual data, but also keeps your Windows-based system clutter free. In addition, it reduces the after-effects of the junk data bogging down your PC; this may include receiving errors after installing software and running resource-heavy programs. In the long run, it definitely helps you avoid replacing your unresponsive computer with a new one every other year. My motto: re-use and recycle rather than replace!
Why? For example, even a single hard disk can add to environmental pollution, as hard drives are manufactured using aluminum, glass, ceramic and other magnetic additives, which have been found to be ecologically harmful.
Windows ReadyBoost to the Rescue
Now, consider this real-world scenario. If someone has only 512 MBytes or 1 GByte of RAM, Windows constantly accesses the hard disk. However, you could use a USB thumb drive to move the SuperFetch cache data from your RAM to a flash drive. This would reduce read/write operations and allow the user to observe an increase in his or her system’s performance—as well as result in a little bit more “green”. Stay tuned, we will have a detailed blog post and analysis on how ReadyBoost improves speed (especially on lower-end machines) soon.
Green Computing with Up-to-date Drivers
Despite the advances in energy-saving processor (CPU) technology, fast graphic cards are still quite an issue for our environment. The image below, taken from EliteBastards, shows how hot a high-end graphics card can actually get, thereby adversely affecting your thermal footprint. The stated condition not only shows that the overall of life of the graphics card will be reduced, but also indicates an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. If you need a powerful GPU horse, then you absolutely need to update the drivers regularly. In many cases, the manufacturer is able to increase performance a bit, while tweaking the fans and the electrical output a bit—and lessening your footprint.
Avoiding the Sleep Mode: Good or Bad?
Many of us have gotten into the habit of putting our PCs (especially laptops, tablets, etc.) into sleep mode rather than turning them off. But, even in sleep mode your computer still sucks a bit of power off of the outlet. It’s the hibernation mode that does the trick. When activated, this setting creates a file named hiberfil.sys, which is nothing more than an image of your RAM, saves it to your hard drive, and turns your computer completely off. That’s the right “green” move.
Conclusion: A Greener World and a Heavier Pocket
By following these steps carefully, you can really reduce your ecological footprint and save a bit of money, as well. Balance is the symmetry of life. We must maintain it for the future generations and give them a greener world to live in.
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