Over time, your Windows computer slows down. When you install more programs—and some junk—you unwittingly add tasks to your startup menu, causing your computer to become slower during the boot phase. The latest programs are resource intensive, and they will bog down your computer if you do not plan for hardware upgrades. And as you open and reopen files, your hard drive will become fragmented, leading to longer wait times while referencing files. Together, all of these add up to a lot of grief.
Here are 10 ways to keep your computer running optimally.
Defrag Your Hard Drive
To defragment your hard drive, first reboot your computer into Safe Mode. Do this by rebooting your computer and hitting F8 several times during the boot phase. You will be given several boot options. Choose Boot Windows in Safe Mode.
Once your system has booted, click Start and browse to All Programs. Click on Accessories and browse to System Tools. Click Disk Defragmenter. In the Disk Defragmenter dialogue box, click Defragment.
Browsing the web can be a dangerous prospect these days. You can pick up malware at every turn, which slows down your internet browsing experience. One piece of free software to rid yourself of malware is Spybot Search and Destroy.
Go to the Spybot home page, http://www.safer-networking.org/en/home/index.html, and download the latest version of Spybot Search and Destroy. Double click on the .exe download and the program will install itself. When the program opens, you will be asked several questions including being given a choice to immunize your system. Click Next through all options until Spybot opens to the main scanning page. Click Look for Problems and wait for the scan to complete. Once the scan is complete, you will be presented with a list of problems Spybot found. Click Fix Problems.
Once Spybot has completed fixing the problems, turn off your computer for five minutes, turn it back on, and rerun Spybot to ensure your system is completely clean.
As you install more resource intensive programs, you may need to install more memory. To find out how much memory you have, click Start and then Control Panel. Double click on the System icon. Consult your user manual to determine how much more memory you can install, and also how to install it.
For standard-sized PCs, this usually requires removing the case and installing the memory onto the system board. For laptops, there is a panel beneath the laptop that can be removed with a Phillips head screwdriver and installing the memory in the provided slots.
Remove Unused Programs
In Windows XP, click Start and then Control Panel. Click Add/Remove Programs. You will be presented with a list of programs. Browse the list of programs and remove unnecessary ones by highlighting the program and clicking Remove.
In Windows Vista, click Start and then Control Panel. Browse to Programs and Features, and you will be presented with a list of programs. Browse the list of programs and remove unnecessary ones by highlighting the program and clicking Uninstall.
Remove Programs from the Startup Menu
To remove unnecessary startup programs, Click Start and then Run. In the Run Field, type “msconfig”. You will be presented with a System Configuration Utility. Browse to the Startup Tab, and uncheck any programs that you do not want to run at startup. You will need to restart the computer after making your changes.
Use an External Drive for Personal Documents
Having your personal documents on the same drive as your programs can cause some disk thrashing, or overuse of the main drive. Purchase an external hard drive and re-organize all of your personal documents—items located in MyDocuments—there. This has several advantages.
External hard drives are easy to connect via a USB port and, should your system crash, your personal files will not be effected. While it is a bit cumbersome if you are a laptop user, it will create a dividing line between your personal documents and programs.
Try a Different Web Browser
If you use Microsoft Internet Explorer exclusively, you may experience some slow web browsing. This is because many spyware and malware programs attack Microsoft Internet Explorer specifically. Install Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/upgrade.html), Safari (http://www.apple.com/safari/download/), or Opera (http://www.opera.com/).
Turn off Visual Effects and Fancy Graphics
Right click on My Computer and select Properties. Click on the Advanced System Settings (Advanced in Windows XP) and browse to the Performance section. Select Settings. Choose the option to Adjust for Best Performance.
Update Your OS
Allow Windows updates to occur automatically so that you know you are getting the most up to date operating system changes. In Windows Vista, click on Start and browse to Control Panel. Find Windows Update and double click on that. You will be presented with an option to Check for Updates. Check for updates and make sure Automatic Updates is turned on.
For Windows XP, click Start and browse to Control Panel. Double click on Control Panel and browse to System. Double click on System and browse to the Automatic Updates tab. Make sure Automatic Updating is turned on.
Reinstall Operating System
If nothing seems to work to speed up your computer system, try reinstalling your operating system.
To re-install your operating system, first relocate your personal files to an external hard drive—this is much easier if you have all of your personal documents on an eternal drive as there will be no need to relocate these documents. Locate any additional software licenses and .exe files that you may need to install after reinstalling your operating system.
Locate the operating system disks that came with your computer, and slide disk one into the DVD drive. Restart your computer and follow the prompts until the operating system has been reinstalled.