How can you make your computer run faster without having to tether it with a rope to the bumper of your car at about sixty-five mph? As an Information Technologist specialist, I can tell you this question has plagued a multitude of computer users, but unfortunately there is only so much you can actually do in this case without tampering with factory setup, especially if you are running on a much older system. However, I still can give you some super handy tips on improving your system overall performance given you have a Windows based operating system.
Step One: Let Windows do the work!
Almost every Windows operating system has the given applications to aid in healthy maintenance. The first application can be found under the “system tools”, and is dubbed Disk Cleanup. The utility is designed to scan the hard drive sector by sector gathering up temporary files like cookies, temp internet files, deleted files to name a few. Don’t worry once it is completed it will ensure the file is safe, and it will even ask if you want to proceed deleting the collected files.
Next we move on to Disk Defragmenter. Sounds really complicated but it really isn’t, if you understand the structure of the hard drive. Think of the defragmenter like a housecleaner that arranges everything in an efficient manor. Since files can sometimes be scattered helter skelter across the hard drive, it makes it harder for your system to gather the files in order to open the specific item. Defragmenter basically rounds up the files so they are closer together enhancing the allocation efficiency.
Step Two: Don’t you hate those updates!
Yes, we all hate that nagging popup that tells us to update our system, but the truth is Windows is the forever-changing system that frequently needs to be updated, unlike open-source operating systems. Allowing your system to complete necessary updates can sometimes correct bugs, update security, and even adhere with relevant changes to allow you access to applications or websites.
Step Three: Spyware and Malware Oh My!
Honestly this isn’t going to be the ultimate fix for a super slow computer, but it will drastically impact the resources your computer utilizes when running applications like the Internet browser application. Unfortunately there are thousands of nasty little critters out there that latch onto your computer to ensure advertisements and popups are going to keep annoying the heck out of you. Each one can take up a bit of the precious RAM your computer needs to function, which in the end slows your system down. Some are used to track and monitor your activities to be used for marketing purposes but either way they are a key problem to sluggish system. Go online or to the computer store and get a good application to scan and eradicate any Spyware or Malware that plague your system and set up a schedule to ensure it is current.
Step Four: Giving it a kick in the Boot-up!
Now this one isn’t the most commonly known, but Windows likes to run everything at the same time. The minute you press the “ON” button the system has to run everything that is designated to fire up when Windows is starting, which causes huge start lag and sometimes even poor running speed. To manage what comes up during the startup process simply go to Start, Run, than type msconfig and press enter. Don’t worry this isn’t dangerous! Select the startup tab. Each item you see here can be unselected, which means that it won’t fire up unless you go directly to the source. The only thing you might not want to unselect are important processes like system or antivirus or firewalls. Applications like media players, messengers, and others can be used as “need to use” basis instead of taking up your precious RAM.
Step Five: When was the last time I needed that?
There comes a time in every computers lifetime where you have to ask yourself do I need that program or game? If it doesn’t get more than a once every couple of months use, than it might be a good time to get rid of it. Go to your control panel and find the add remove software icon. Windows will even tell you how frequently you use it, and most of the time it can actually be right. Let Windows properly uninstall, and if it asks; yes let it reboot. This can be tedious but it will perk up a system that is beginning to run out of memory.
Step Six: What is a Registry and why you need to clean it?
Think of the registry like a menu at a restaurant, and each time you order it stores it so the next time you come in it remembers the order. Basically it is a file that contains program settings information. It keeps a log of what hardware is installed, and the relationship between software and different hardware on your system. So why clean it up? Cleaning is actually the same as repairing, which in time the registry files can become corrupted or outdated after software or hardware has been removed or replaced. It is best to use a software application since only a professional IT person should attempt to manually fix registry files. Good utilities like Error Killer, Registry Fix or Error Doctor can be used, which are designed to seek out and repair or delete bad registry files.
Step Seven: Resources, resources!
RAM is what allows a computer to manage multiple applications at one time. If you have several things going all at once and only a minimal RAM available, you could be experiencing a severe system lag. Using CTRL ALT DELETE, you can either add up all the KB being used in the processes tab or go to performance tab to see the total MB being used. If your total RAM is lacking compared to the amount of resources being used during your normal day to day operation it could be time for an upgrade. Check with your system manual or a local computer technician and see if you can upgrade the amount of RAM. Usually RAM now comes in either 1024MB = 1 Gigabyte, or more per chipset. I recommend doubling what your system recommends. If you have 2 Gigabytes now; due to the low cost in upgrading jumping to 4 Gigabytes might be just as cost effective and system beneficial to go with the higher amount. Ensure the type of RAM since there are several types to choose from. If you are unsure bring it in, since most shops will be happy to install it as long as you’re buying it there as well.
Lastly but not least: What’s that you say Anti Virus!
Think of how you feel when your sick, and times that by a couple of thousand and you might have the comparison of some of today’s viruses and other computer maladies. Even though I rank this at six, it should already be your number one most needed applications. Viruses, Trojans, and other nasty computer monsters will devour RAM, hard drive space, and even other vital system functions faster than you can say SPAM. A good application will keep your system healthy and bug free, and as long as you frequently update the virus list you should be safe from harm. Really to advise on what one to get, that is for another article but the top contenders like Norton, Microsoft, and AVG, are among my most recommended list.
Despite all my advice I strongly urge you to setup a restore point, and backup, backup, backup! Your files are precious and it doesn’t take much to reduce them to nothing, and a few simple steps can ensure your treasures are safe from harm. Also keep your computer area clean and free from dust and dirt, because even a quick computer can get dirty. There are several other more advanced techniques to adding some zip like over clocking, maxing out resources and even some Windows file augmenting, but these are the basics that are proven to work.
If all else fails give it a kick or try the rope thing, but when you get pulled over don’t forget to tell the police officer; ” Yeah, but look how fast my computer is going now”!