The most common problem of all. A slow computer can cause many frustrations, but fortunately there is something you can do yourself before you replace it. There may be several reasons for a slow computer; however, the most common is lack of maintenance. Fragmented data, a corrupted registry, spyware and dozens of unnecessary programs running at the same time, easily eat at the speed and performance of your PC.
Tips: Keep track of your programs. Remove those of which you never use or shut them down when you've used them. Clean your registry with one of the many free or paid applications available for Windows. These two initiatives alone will easily be able to make your PC up to 30% faster. Also, run Disk Defragmenter and stop unwanted programs starting with Windows by running MSconfig.
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If your computer takes a long time to start up, the first thing you want to do is see everything it starts when you hit the power button.
To do this, click on the Windows button, click “run,” and then type “msconfig” into the box. Click on the “Startup” tab. Some things you want to leave alone. For example, your Antivirus. Others, such as Adobe Acrobat or Google Toolbar Notifier, you don’t need to startup with your computer.
Along with preventing every app on your computer from starting with Windows, you should also review which programs you no longer need and remove them.
Access the uninstaller tool from your control panel and use that to uninstall programs you don’t use. I regularly do this, of course, as a software reviewer.
Clean up your drives by typing “cleanmgr.exe” into the run menu to access Disk Cleanup. This is that “search programs and files” box that shows when you hit the Windows Start icon, usually in the lower left of most screens (although you can move it to any part of the screen).
Regardless of your browser, you should clean it out regularly. To clean Chrome, click the three bars icon in the upper right corner, then click “Tools,” then “Clean Browsing Data,” and then check the history boxes, cookies and cached items.
Anything that starts with “mal” must be stopped. You should regularly scan your system to get rid of any malware that may be slowing your computer down.
Comodo Cleaning Essentials is a top rated free tool that does this. Avast also has free tools, as does Norton.
In addition to performing regular scans on your computer for malware, you should also regularly scan for viruses and spyware.
Access your antivirus and manually perform a scan. You can schedule these weekly. Just make sure you do so when you won’t be using the computer. Also, having more than one antivirus on your computer will slow it down, so unless you are wanting to be incredibly thorough, and perhaps a bit redundant, it is better to run only one.
If you want better performance and don’t mind losing visual effects such as mouse shadows, click on “computer,” and then “system properties,” and then “advanced system settings.” You will find a performance settings button that allows you to select “adjust for best performance.”
You can also reduce your screen resolution, which can speed things slightly and improve battery life when running on it.
You should defragment your drive or schedule it to perform this action automatically. In general, you can do this monthly. However, if you excessively download, move, uninstall, or install programs, you may need to do it more frequently.
If your computer is running slow, you can manually analyze the disk to see if it is more than 10% fragmented. I still do this occasionally, but Windows seems to be doing a better job of keeping things optimized.
There are a few physical things you can do to increase your performance, as well. You can and should add more RAM memory until the computer is at capacity. I’ve found that as a machine ages, you can extend its utility with a RAM upgrade. I’m literally ordering RAM for one of my laptops as I write this.
In most cases, this is simply a matter of snapping in or out memory sticks. Laptops are usually slightly more tricky and you have to remove screws, but still fairly easy. You can also have a retail store service desk do it.