Wouldn’t it be nice if your computer still ran like it did back when you first bought it? Before you go and buy a new computer try this key maintenance step you can use to put life back into the computer you already have.Imagine that you start up your PC just to find yourself staring at a blue screen with white writing, termed “the blue screen of death” by those of us who work a lot with Microsoft software. So, you power it down - and when it starts back up, the computer is even slower. Within a few minutes it locks up again.This happened to a friend of mine. When she asked me what she could do, I asked her if she had ever defragmented her computer. She got that “deer in the headlights” look, so I knew she hadn’t. Defragmenting her PC, after three years of never doing so, took about 14 hours to complete.One of the main reasons that computers slow down is poor maintenance practices like this. Unfortunately, when you buy a new computer you don’t usually get any instruction on how to maintain it. Poor or no maintenance allows your hard drive to become more and more fragmented which will slow it down over time.To best explain hard drive fragmentation think of your hard drive as a file cabinet. In this cabinet there are folders with documents (files) in them.When you need to work on something you open the folder containing the necessary file, pull out what you need and put the folder back. The files go on your desk so you can work on them.Over time certain files don’t get put back, or they get put back in different places. When this happens on the hard drive it leads to fragmentation. Think of defragmenting as going through the files on your desk, and in the cabinet, and putting them back in order in the correct folders.Just as staying this disorganized would lead to a significant loss in your own productivity, the same thing happens to your computer. Eventually it causes a crash because of how scattered all of the information gets.Disk fragmentation can even shorten the lifespan of your computer because your hard drive works so hard that it wears out faster.So the one step solution for this part of computer maintenance, run the defragmenting tool that comes with Windows at least once every couple of weeks.Do this by clicking Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click System Tools, then click Disk Defragmenter. Choose the disk you want to defragment and click the defragment button. You can also schedule this maintenance inside the Disk Defragmenter application, so you don’t have to remember to run it.Take care of your hard disk maintenance and you will continue to enjoy the speed you experienced when you first made that investment!