Installing more than one program to constantly scan and monitor your PC for viruses and other security threats can create problems, because the two applications will likely interfere with each other’s work. Clashing antivirus programs can cause the computer to behave erratically and run more slowly as the applications battle for system resources.

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Before you start, make a list of your computer’s current components — like its hard drive type and capacity, the amount of memory installed and other system details — so you know what you’re starting with and to ensure any upgraded parts will be compatible. Your machine’s manual or system information box should have the configuration. You should also fully back up the data on your hard drive before tinkering around under the hood.

Before you make your upgrade checklist, note the basic information about your current hardware — like how much memory it has and the type of processor it uses. On a PC, press the Windows and Pause/Break keys to open the System information box. On a Mac, go to the Apple Menu and choose About This Mac; click the System Report button for more detailed information.

Adding random-access memory (RAM) should give the computer the ability to run more programs at once, browse the web faster and play games more smoothly. Before you buy, check with the manufacturer so you know the type and amount of RAM to install in your specific model. RAM makers like CorsairCrucial and Kingston also have “memory finder” tools on their sites that help you match the right modules with your motherboard; prices vary by type and amount of memory.

If your computer uses a traditional hard drive, swapping it out for a solid-state drive is another way to increase the speed, as solid state drives have no moving parts and can read and write data faster. Solid-state drives are also not as expensive as they used to be — Wirecutter, a product review site owned by The Times, favors the Crucial MX500 and the Samsung 860 Evo, both 500-gigabyte drives for less than $130.

However, changing the computer’s hard drive also involves backing up all your data from the old drive and copying it onto the new one after reinstalling systems and applications. The iFixit site has a general guide to the hard-drive upgrade process, but it’s also a job a qualified computer repair shop can easily handle. If your computer can accommodate it, adding a larger or additional hard drive can also expand your system’s storage if things are getting tight.

Upgrading the computer’s main processor is often expensive and can require a new motherboard. But some systems make it easier, like those from AMD, which has an instructional video and a guide on its support site. If you like to play video games, upgrading the computer’s graphics card is another option for more speed and fluid display, as long as your model supports it.

Once you know what you want to do (and plan to do it yourself), buying the parts online usually saves money. You can find computer parts on specialty sites like Newegg or in more general stores like Amazon and Office Depot. For Mac users, Other World Computing has a handy My Upgrades page that lets you enter your model number, shows you all the components of the computer than can be upgraded, and sells you the parts right there.

The most recent version of Microsoft’s operating system can track your actions on the computer so you can return to past tasks — if you allow it.

The Timeline feature included with the Windows 10 April 2018 Update is meant to enhance your productivity by storing a record of the files you used, sites you browsed and other actions you made on your computer. Can’t remember where you stored a document or want to return to a particular website quickly? You can click the Timeline icon in the Windows 10 task bar to see a visual log organized by date, and jump back to what you need by clicking the appropriate preview icon.

The new Timeline feature in Windows 10 keeps track of your computer activity so you can easily return to what you were doing, but you can turn off the feature or modify its behavior in Settings.

If Timeline is enabled, some of your PC activity — like files you edit in Microsoft Office — can also sync with your mobile device or another computer you use. And the tool works with the Cortana virtual assistant and its “pick up where you left off” function, which restores your work space on command.

The activity data is recorded based on the Microsoft account, so if you share both the computer and the same user account, the Timeline records are visible to all involved. To keep your travels private, create a separate account for one of you to use. If you’d generally like to keep your activity private and do not want Windows 10 tracking it, you can turn off the Timeline feature, hide it or edit it.

Press the Windows and I keys to open the Settings box (or click the gear-shaped Settings icon in the Start Menu) and select the Privacy icon. On the left side of the Privacy box, select Activity History and turn off the box next to “Let Windows collect my activities from this PC” on the right side. If your computer was set to sync your activities with other devices online, also disable “Let Windows sync my activities from this PC to the cloud.”

If you eventually get separate accounts on the computer and one of you wants to use the Timeline feature, enable the data collection option in the Activity History controls again. In the “Show activities from accounts” area of the Settings box, flip on the switch next to the account wishing to use Timeline. Within the Activity History settings box, you can also wipe your activity history. To remove activities directly from the Timeline screen, right-click the thumbnail preview and choose the Remove or Clear option.

For those who find the feature useful and wish to use it, pressing the Windows and Tab keys opens the Timeline from the keyboard. You can also open Timeline by clicking its Taskbar icon next to the Cortana search box. Don’t see the Timeline icon? Right-click the Taskbar and choose “Show Task View Button.”

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