How to Make My Computer Run Faster

By Alan Hughes

A new computer seems very fast in comparison to the one that you replaced with it. As time passes, that once-new computer begins to slow down and cause you frustration. Poor computer performance has many potential causes, but much of it centers around the hard disk and the process of moving files in and out of memory. If your system is slowing down, it is time to clean up and organize your computer.

Things You'll Need

  • USB or SD memory card
  • Antistatic wrist strap
  • RAM (optional)

Step 1

Clean up old and unused files on the hard drive using Microsoft’s Disk Cleanup utility. Click “Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Cleanup.” Check all boxes except the “Setup Log Files” box and click “OK.” Provide administrator credentials or give permission to proceed if prompted. Respond “Yes” to the request for permission to delete the specified files.

Step 2

Defragment the hard drive using Microsoft’s built in defragmentation utility. As a disk fills up, new files and additions to old files are fragmented across the disk, slowing down access to all files. Click “Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Defragmenter.” Select the volume you want to defragment, which is typically the “C:” drive. Click “Defragment Disk” to begin defragmenting. Provide administrator credentials or give permission to proceed if prompted. The utility analyzes the disk to determine whether defragmentation is needed and makes a recommendation in the form of a prompt. Respond to the prompt appropriately to either proceed with defragmentation or leave the disk as is.

Step 3

Add Random Access Memory to your computer to allow more application windows to be open at one time. When insufficient RAM is available the computer has to move information in and out of memory in a process called “paging.” When too many windows are open to be contained in RAM, thrashing can occur. "Thrashing" describes the condition where your computer is doing nothing but paging programs and data in and out but doing no real work. Adding RAM typically helps avoid the paging process, depending on how many windows you open. The specific process for adding RAM differs slightly between different computers, but the general process is to put on an antistatic wrist strap, open the box that houses the computer, locate your existing RAM and add new RAM or replace old RAM with higher capacity memory modules.

Step 4

Run real-time anti-malware software on your computer. Viruses, adware and spyware slow down your computer. One of the ways to detect a virus is a sudden slowdown in your computer’s performance. Download any of the free anti-malware products available on the Internet and scan your computer, such as Microsoft's Security Essentials, AVG Antivirus and Avast Antivirus (full link in Resources). For the best protection, schedule daily or weekly scans.

Step 5

Use Microsoft’s ReadyBoost technology on your computer. ReadyBoost stores files on a flash drive that would otherwise take up valuable RAM or increase paging. ReadyBoost requires a memory card such as a USB flash drive that at least 1GB in size. Alternately, if your computer has a Secure Digital memory card slot, use an SD card. Plug the drive into your computer and the Autoplay dialog appears. Click “General Options," and then "Speed Up My System.” Click “Properties,” then “ReadyBoost.” Click “Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost” to use all of the memory on the drive. Click “OK” to close the dialog.

Tips & Warnings

  • Schedule daily or weekly defragmentation runs to maintain optimum performance.
  • Beware of malware when downloading free software.