We have four computers and two of them are nine years old. We found that out by running a utility program that found old files going back to 2002.

Now oddly enough, those old computers happen to be the ones we use most often. We have two new ones, lots of computing power and memory and all that stuff. But the old computers have the programs we turn to on a regular basis and are tuned to use those programs in the best ways. And after adding memory to our old desktops, they’re just as fast as the new.

There is tremendous advertising pressure to have the latest equipment and to make us feel that if we don’t, we must be creatures from the Stone Age. We have a friend who buys a new computer when her older one gets clogged up and starts to run slowly. She figures it’s just too old, and that’s the problem. We think this kind of attitude is very common and probably accounts for a goodly percentage of the sales of new computers. The new one she gets will run fine for a couple years, until it gets clogged up and grinds down.

In fact, there is usually nothing wrong with most old computers. The repeated warnings from ad banners about our hard drives crashing because they’re so old, and the software we can buy to tell us when that dire moment is nigh, turn out to be fear-mongering. We have never had a hard drive crash and this goes back over a period of more than 30 years. We know a few people have had drive crashes; we’re just saying that in more 30 years, we never have.

We found out how old our machines were, by the way, from running “Emergency Undelete,” a $20 program we’re testing from Joy typed in “*dee” and retrieved all the letters she’d written to her Aunt Dee and deleted over the last nine years.


  1. A reader wrote in to ask, “How do you unclog a computer?”

    1. Make sure you have a good anti-virus and anti-spyware program installed. We like Bullguard, from, but you can get a good free anti-virus program at and a good free anti-spyware program at The big difference between the free and paid versions is that the paid versions protect you before you get infected, rather than clean things up after the fact. Note: You can have more than one anti-spyware program if you wish, but don’t have more than one anti-virus program, or conflicts may occur.

    2. Uninstall any programs you aren’t using. If you have trouble uninstalling them, use the free Revo Uninstaller.

    3. If you’ve added RAM and things still seem slow, you may need a Tune-Up program such as the one from

    4. If after all that, and things are slow because you do a lot of video or photo editing or play some very graphics-intensive games, get the fastest CPU you can get for your machine in an upgrade and add lots more RAM.