When a computer’s new, it should run flawlessly. But as you use it and install software and applications, it’ll start to slow down. That’s usually because things like temporary files begin to clog up your hard drives, and registry entries and file links become corrupted or broken.
In these cases, you probably need the help of computer tune-up and maintenance software. These tools remove unnecessary links and corrupt files and attempt to clean your computer’s operating system to return it back to an optimised state. Below are some free tools designed to restore the health of your computer.
PC tune-up and maintenance software
Piriform’s CCleaner is one of the highest recommended tools for PCs. It has a free version and can be set to run in the background to monitor your system and keep it optimised. Similarly, IObit’s free Advanced System Care is great for optimising and includes a registry cleaner and spy/adware removal tool.
Mac tune-up and optimising software
You can download the free Mac version of CCleaner which is great for optimising your Mac as well as offering online security and cookie management. OnyX is a free utility for verifying startup and system files and system maintenance.
It’s probably not beyond the means of most of us when setting up a business, but if it is, it’s possible to acquire office furniture for free. If friends or relatives don’t have furniture lying around you can have, there are places online you can go to get kitted out for free.
Freecycle is an extensive international giving-network where people advertise anything they’re looking to get rid of for free. You’d be surprised what you can get there and all you have to do is respond quickly and be prepared to pick it up. Visit their homepage then enter your location and that’ll direct you to your local group where you can see what’s being offered (and join).
It’s also worth watching Gumtree and Craigs List. Both these sites display classified sites where bargains can be found on office gear. Both have apps available too and will recognise your location to show you only local offers.
Renting a car can be a very cost-effective alternative to buying if you only need to use a car infrequently. For the lowest rates, rental companies generally accommodate drivers aged 25-70.
Cheap car rental companies covering Europe, US, UK & Australia
EasyCar compares prices from lots of car rental companies as well as car clubs and cover the UK, US and Europe. Indigo Car Hire is a comparison site that covers Europe, UK, US, Australia and parts of Africa and searches deals from eight suppliers.
In the US, Enterprise, Hertz and National have been voted as the best car rental companies, while Payless is known for the best deals, including $10-20 daily offers. Payless also has some international outlets too.
A car’s an essential business tool these days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to buy one.
The major cost of owning a car is depreciation. On average, a car loses about half it’s value over the first three years – that’s money coming straight out of your pocket. Different brands depreciate at different rates, but if the car you want is a quick depreciator (such as a Ford or a Peugeot) then it might make more sense not to buy and consider one of the options listed below.
Of course, fuel, maintenance and insurance all take their toll on your time and bank balance too. So here we look at a few different options you might like to consider, listed below in order of requirement: the top of the list is for those who need daily access while the options at the bottom are more suitable for the occasional user.
Car clubs give you access to a car for as many days as you need without having the longer term commitment that comes with owning or leasing. They’re reasonably new in most countries so you might struggle to find a car club that covers smaller cities or towns, but if you are covered by a club and only use a car infrequently, they may be an attractive option.
After joining a car club (and sometimes paying an annual membership or joining fee), you can then access their network of cars to use as and when you need one. Typically, you’ll then pay a daily or hourly rental and/or cost per mile, but the price does include insurance and sometimes breakdown cover.
International Car Clubs
ZipCar offers the most extensive network globally, covering the US, Canada & UK, plus most European countries. For individuals, there’s a small setup and annual charge, then you pay either per hour or day, with inclusive insurance and free fuel up to 60 miles. It’s a similar story for business users but with a 180 mile limit.
Car hire company Hertz are getting in on the act in the US, UK, Europe and Australia with Hertz 24/7, offering car and van rentals by the day and hour. They offer a mobile app and membership is free.
UK-based Car Clubs
City Car Club have the most extensive network in the UK, covering most major cities. There’s an annual joining fee and drivers must be over 19 with at least a year’s driving experience. Easy Car Club is a UK-based peer-to-peer club run by the Easy Group, where owners add their own cars or vans to the network and members can rent them out. Membership is free and there’s no annual fee, though a sizeable deposit is required.
Most business users find it useful to have at least a couple of monitors hooked up to their computer. Monitors tend to be pretty reliable these days, so it’s possible to get a decent second hand buy that will last and last if you’re really looking to save the pennies. But assuming you’re going to buy new, here’s a few things to look out for when buying a computer monitor (these are minimum specs to go for):
- 16:9 Aspect Ratio
- 1600×900 resolution
- 60Hz refresh rate
- DVI, Dsub (VGA), display port video connections/ports
- Size – probably at least 19″
- LED backlight
Note: check for multiple monitor ports to run mulitple monitors from a single computer – these include display port, VGA (Dsub), HDMI & DVI ports.
Free computer monitors
Freecycle is an extensive international giving-network where people advertise anything they’re looking to get rid of for free. There are regularly old monitors on there; all you have to do is respond quickly and be prepared to pick it up. Visit their homepage then enter your location and that’ll direct you to your local group where you can see what’s being offered (and join).
In the future, we’ll update this page with some of the best value offers for business-ready monitors.
We’re starting to use tablets more and more for business – occasionally as a main computer but mostly as a companion device to supplement a laptop. But like any hardware, tablets need to run the latest apps – but also be reliable.
The data below is taken from reputable sources who tested the hardware first-hand.
Most reliable tablet brands
Check the reliability of desktops and laptop computers here.
When you need hardware for business, you want adequate performance but above all else, you need reliability. Here’s the brands you should be looking out for.
Top 5 most reliable desktop PC brands
- Packard Bell
Top 5 most reliable laptop brands
Best business laptops
- Apple MacBook series – continue to be great mix of performance and reliability
- Asus ZenBook UX series – good performer at much lower price than Apple
- HP Pavillion X2 – low price and excellent performance
Reliability top tips
If your Windows computer is unreliable, one useful tool is the built-in reliability monitor. Click ‘start’ then type ‘reliability’ and select the reliability monitor. There you’ll see a diagram showing what broke and when. If something keeps failing that causes your computer break, that’s a good place to start looking.
Check out the most reliable tablet computers here.
Free computers or monitors
Freecycle is an extensive international giving-network where people advertise anything they’re looking to get rid of for free. There are regularly old computers on monitors on there which, if you have some computer knowledge, will often be suitable for basic office tasks such as word processing and email. All you have to do is respond quickly and be prepared to pick it up. Visit their homepage then enter your location and that’ll direct you to your local group where you can see what’s being offered (and join).