12 Computer and Workspace Upgrades You Can Do in a Weekend

Guy McDowell 10-06-2016

You work hard all day. You put a lot of good out into the world from your little old desk and your trusty computer. Yet, after time that desk and computer start to go from useful to just plain used.


Your PC sidekick deserves better. You deserve better! It’s called self-care and it’s something most of us are lacking. No more! Let’s look at a number of things that you can do, this weekend, to freshen up your PC and workspace.

First, let’s look at minimizing, decluttering, streamlining…whatever you want to call. Clutter is bad – you know that. But do you know exactly why clearing clutter is good for you Clearing Out Clutter Is Good For You — But Why? Decluttering is a great way to start the year feeling fresh, and it gives you a big sense of accomplishment — but there's more to it than that. This simple habit can improve your life. Read More ? Try starting with some good resources about getting organized Is Clutter Consuming You? Organize Your Life With These Sites & Tips Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Our lives are consumed with stuff. It has to stop. It's time to clear out the house and the storage facility. It's time to improve your bank account too. Read More .

Messy Computer Desk

Get Rid of  Worn or Damaged Cables

Do you have a nest of charging cables that are worn and frayed When to Throw Away Your Fraying Cables & Phone Chargers Let's cut to the chase here — in a benevolent ploy we only really want you to read this article for one reason: to throw away those shredded, damaged chargers NOW. Read More ? Take a minute to check all your cables for damage of any kind. You can get inexpensive computer cables just about everywhere now. Watch the following video and see how a frayed cable can throw electrical arcs.

Leave a some papers on that and you’ll be serving coffee to firefighters before the night is done. Spend the $10 or $20 for some new cables. It’s cheap fire insurance.


Store Cables Better When Not in Use

It’s a connected world. But why does it have to have so many cables? Many of them you use only once in a while. So what do you do with them between uses? Jam them in a drawer? Mere mortals do that. But you’re a MakeUseOf reader. You know you could buy pre-made cord storage solutions, or you could do some creative cable storage Drowning In Cable Clutter? Cable Storage Tips To Tidy Your Home Read More things like spooling the cables in empty DVD cakebox cases or putting coiled cables in empty toilet paper rolls. You can do it. Use your noggin, not your wallet.

Electronics Storage Box

Tidy Up the Rest of the Computer Cables

We’re talking about the cables that are always connected. We’re all guilty of having desktops so strewn with cables that it looks like someone barfed multi-color spaghetti. That mess makes life difficult. But you can organize your computer cables quickly and for free 5 Ways to Clean Up Computer Cable Clutter Under Your Desk Cable clutter is one of technology's biggest annoyances. Here's how to organize and arrange the cables under your desk. Read More ! Use bread tags to label your cables so you know what goes where. Upgrade from multiple power strips to one that will handle all the cords and protect your electronics from power surges. You’ve probably got some zip-ties, twist-ties, or velcro wraps kicking around. Put them to good use.

Bread Clip Cable Labeling Organization


Make Your Computer Appear Cable Free

Take your cable organizing one step further and conceal all your cables. Make like a kid with a mess, and hide it. If you’ve organized the cables, you’re halfway there. Put a bunch of cables inside a cable split sleeve. Try some 3M Command Strip Cord Clips. Beauty thing about them is that they can be removed later, and not leave a mark. Maybe go full-geek and get some open slot cable raceway duct with cover.

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Think about mounting your new surge suppressor under your desk or somewhere else out of the way. Don’t know where to put the screws? Place your surge suppressor gently on a photocopier and make a copy. Now you’ve got a perfect to-scale template. Put little holes into the template where the screws should go. Flip over the template and tape it onto the surface where you want to mount your surge suppressor. Put the screws right where the template shows you they should be. Tear off the template and mount the surge suppressor. Done. It’s almost that quick.

Now that you’ve got some room to move and are rid of the tripping hazards, let’s look at some things you can add to your PC or workspace to upgrade them.


Add Another Monitor

People who complain about having too many monitors are like Snuffleupagus. You hear about him every now and again, but nobody has seen him. Monitors have come down in price so much over the last few years, making this an affordable upgrade. You can get two new 22-inch monitors for well under $300. If you haven’t done this before, don’t worry. We can help you find out if your computer can support two monitors 3 Easy Steps to a Dual Monitor Setup and an Extended Desktop A dual monitor setup is wonderful. But does your PC support multiple monitors? We'll show you how to use two monitors or more. Read More and how to set that up.

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Adding a second monitor could make you up to 42% more productive, according to the Jon Peddie report The Multiple Display Market and Consumer Attitudes”. Just don’t let that second monitor start being a place to host distractions like Facebook or Netflix.

Get a Good Monitor Mount

You may think that monitors take up too much space on your desk. Nope. It’s the foot of the monitor that takes up all that space. The foot of a single 22″ monitor can take up about 20 square inches on your desk. The foot of a dual monitor mount can be as little as 4 square inches. If you go with a wall mount, then your monitor takes up no space on your desk. So whether you have a single, dual, or multi-monitor set up, get a good monitor mount. You can get a Loctek dual monitor mount for under $100. Why Loctek? Well, good prices, and James Bruce gave the Loctek D7A Monitor Mount a rating of 9 out of 10 Loctek D7A Ergonomic Monitor Mount Review The Loctek D7A monitor mount allow you to effortlessly to move your 10-27" monitor around and reposition it needed. Read More . James’ 9 out of 10 is like a 12 out of 10 for mere mortals.


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Upgrade Your Video Card

Maybe your computer doesn’t support dual monitors. That’s as good an excuse as any to upgrade your video card to one that does. Plus if you go a little more high-end, you can see some solid speed increases in how fast video is rendered. You really don’t have to spend that much money either. For just about $200 you can get a pretty good video card like the EVGA GeForce GTX 960. If you’ve never done this before, do take a few minutes to learn about buying the right video card 5 Things You Have to Know Before Buying a Graphics Card Here are five key points to keep in mind before you buy your next graphics card, otherwise you may regret your purchase. Read More for you.

Add More RAM

Adding RAM to a computer or laptop is a pretty simple process and very affordable. You can even add RAM to your laptop How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step Is your laptop old, slow, and has the hardware never been upgraded? Working on a slow computer can be a real drag. Before you buy a completely new one, however, you should consider ways to... Read More . If your computer is getting slow, even though you’ve been doing regular maintenance to keep it fast, adding RAM could make a big difference. If you’ve never added RAM to a computer, you may want to learn more about RAM 8 Terms You Need to Know When Buying Computer RAM While RAM tends to be fairly easy to find and install, tracking down RAM compatible with your system can prove to be a bit more challenging than a casual user may be expecting. Read More to make sure you get the right stuff. For as little as $30 and 30 seconds, you could double your RAM from 8GB to 16GB.

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Swap Your Hard Drive for a Solid State Drive

If you’ve been dreaming of the day when you could get rid of your clunky hard disk drive (HDD) and replace it with a lightning fast solid state drive, your time could be this weekend. Prices for SSD have been decreasing steadily for a while now, making SSD drives affordable for almost anyone. If you’re not sure how to swap drives, that’s okay. Take a couple minutes and read up on how to install a new hard drive How to Install a New Hard Drive to Replace an Old One Want to replace your computer's hard drive? It's fiddly, but straightforward. Here's how to replace it and install a new HDD. Read More .

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You don’t have to necessarily swap the HDD out for the SSD either. If you have a desktop PC, you may be able to set it up so Windows and programs are run from the SDD, and the HDD is just used for long-term storage of files, or backup. All you’d need to invest is about $60 and a few hours of time re-installing your Windows and programs. Doing this will give you a noticeable speed boost when booting Windows, and you still have the terabytes of storage that affordable HDDs can provide.

Get a Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

Whether you’ve got a laptop or a desktop PC, adding a wireless keyboard or mouse can make a big difference. Anytime you can have the same performance without the cables, that’s a good thing. If all you’ve got is a laptop, adding the wireless keyboard and mouse, along with a couple desktop monitors, will give you so much flexibility. Now, you can use your laptop as though it were a desktop, with all that great screen space. But then if you’re traveling, you can just disconnect the laptop and go. No need to have both. About $40 and 5 minutes will get you into an ergonomic wireless keyboard and mouse.

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Do a Case Mod

You spend hours with your computer. Why not give it a little personality? With some basic DIY skills and some supplies from your hardware store, there’s no end to what you can do to give your PC presence. You could modify what you’ve got or build your PC case from scratch Creative and Interesting Do-It-Yourself PC Cases: You Can Build One Too Read More ! Get some ideas from watching videos from special FX masters like Adam Savage Learn DIY by Watching Adam Savage Build Movie Props When Adam's not busting myths, he likes to relax by recreating movie props. Watching Adam work is not only inspiring, but you'll also pick up loads of techniques that you'll be able to use in... Read More , of Mythbuster fame. Got a few computers kicking around? Maybe you could build your own server rack How to Build a DIY Rack Case (and Why) The cheapest rack case will cost more than the cheapest conventional tower case, and a rack-mounted socket strip will cost more than a standard one. So why not build your own? Here's how. Read More .

Give Your Entire Room a Makeover

Again, you occupy a space with just you and your computer for hours at a time. Shouldn’t it be truly yours? Shouldn’t it scream, “This is my space!” What better way to do that than to go full cyberpunk in a room makeover How to Give Your Room a Cyberpunk Design Makeover Cyberpunk is no longer fiction. It is our reality. And DIY is its first name. Read More ? You could add some home automation mood lighting. Maybe paint your room like a place in your favorite game. Or maybe go all future-retro with some cool vintage 1950’s collectibles. With some paint, some cheap electronics, a day or two, and some creative thinking, you could really make your computer space into your own world.

So What Will You Do?

Are you going to make a little change this weekend? Or go all in? Finally going to invest in some new gear or mod up your current rig? You spend so much time in the world of computers, you might as well make it a world that works well, and is your own. We’re dying to hear what you’re going to do.

Image Credits: Modern home office by Alexey Stiop via Shutterstock, Messy Desk, via Wikimedia.

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Computer Parts, Declutter.

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  1. Kannon Yamada
    June 14, 2016 at 1:45 am

    Great article! I usually download my RAM. Buying it has become so 2015.

    • Guy McDowell
      June 15, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      And sometimes the MakeUseOf writers like to troll each other. :D

  2. Azims
    June 11, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Solid. 10/10

    • Guy McDowell
      June 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Thank you!

  3. Anonymous
    June 10, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    nice article

    • Guy McDowell
      June 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Glad you liked it.

  4. William Vasquez
    June 10, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    You forgot to mention the biggest thing to do to improve performance and increase the usefulness of an older computer....replace Windows (whatever) with Linux Lite; or Linux Mint. It's easy to do and use; you can dual boot if you feel that you want to still keep Windows; and the fear of malware or viruses virtually non-existent. I am in no way; shape; or form a Linux expert, but I have dual booted Windows 10 with Ubuntu 16.04 and I swear I use Linux 90% of the time. There are not only free duplicates of the software you use in Windows, but free software that only works in Linux. This would count as a 'computer workspace and upgrade' in my book!

    • Guy McDowell
      June 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Linux is good alternative and becoming more accessible to average computer users all the time.