Free Computer Advice

Top tips to speed up your computer

When your PC starts to slow down, it can be a real bind. We have come to depend on our computers so much that having a badly performing PC can seriously impact on our daily lives.

But it doesn't need to be like that. You will be surprised at the variety of things you can do to improve your computer's performance, that involve either no or very little money. You don't need to simply accept that your PC is slow and that there is nothing you can do about it.

Yes, it's true that some solutions may involve purchasing new components, but there's an awful lot of things you can carry out that will either cost you nothing or next to nothing to improve your PC's performance.

Also they're pretty easy fixes, so you don't have to be an expert to give them a try.

Before you spend loads on money on a new PC, read on. So what can you try?

Defragmenting your disk

Windows 7 has improved greatly since Windows XP, but it can still suffer from disk fragmentation over time. New programs get installed and old ones get removed, with the result that a single program can reside on disparate sections of the disk, causing inefficient read and write times. Carrying out a defrag organizes all the applications together again on the disk, so the disk head has less distance to travel.

You can run it quite simply:

Just type 'defrag' into the command line after clicking on the Start menu, or access via Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools. Click on the 'disk defragmenter' icon. In the utility window, check the % fragmentation of the C: drive is (it's only the c: drive that's important, you can ignore the other drives). If it's greater than 10% then you need to defragment. Don't forget to close all your applications first, and preferably start it last thing at night as it can take some time to complete.

You should only need to do this once or twice a year.

More Memory

Boosting your memory can have a really dramatic effect of your computer's speed, particularly if it is short on memory to begin with. If you're running with 2Gb or less, then you are likely to see a big improvement by upping it to 3 or 4 Gb. The main benefits are faster start-up times, and programs will start quicker!

Memory or RAM is very cheap today. Around $20 should buy you 1Gb of RAM.

You can check your memory in Control Panel, under the System icon.

De-clutter your hard drive

This is especially important if you're running low on hard disk space. Clearing out unused files and programs is a fast and effective way to speed up your PC.

You can happily clean out any files in the c:Windows\Temp directory and all of your Temporary Internet files. A good way to see at a glance where all the space is going is to use the 'Disk Cleanup Wizard', found in Accessories.

And remove all programs you don't need. You can access this via the control panel..

Remove Startup and Indexing Programs

By clearing out any programs that run on startup, you can really increase performance and startup times. You might also want to consider disabling any indexing programs and internet Add-ons - they can really cripple the performance on an already struggling computer.

Try running 'msconfig' and check out the applications in the 'Startup' tab. If you look through the list, you should be able to spot certain applications you don't need - Program update checkers are good candidates for unchecking.

Tweak your display

Tweaking the display settings can help, especially if you have an older graphics card. The new 'aero' feature in Windows 7 can be quite graphics intensive on older display adapters, so disable it if not required. Many features can be disabled such as icon smoothing if your graphics card is not up to scratch.

Clean up the Malware

It's important to always ensure you have a reliable up-to-date anti-virus program. As a extra check run something like Malwarebytes through it just to be sure you're clean.

Tidy your Registry

The registry controls everything in your computer so you need to keep it performing well. Be very cautious when editing the registry as one wrong entry can have serious repercussions. Registry problems can include orphan entries, rogue settings from Malware and fragmentation problems.

Unless you're completely confident, don't edit the registry yourself but use a utility you trust to inspect it for you. Remember to backup the registry prior to changing anything.

Registry errors can also cause unwanted symptoms like blue screen errors and freeze ups, so a good registry scan is always a good idea as part of your housekeeping routine.

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