As a computer tech, one of the most common comments I hear is “My computer is so slow!!!” Something about turning on your computer and then being able to go get some coffee, run some errands, make a few phone calls, before you finally get to your desktop. If not that once you are on your computer and clicking on a program like your internet browser or office program and waiting 10 to 15 min (or more) before you see it on the screen. Those are just some of the more frustrating situations when your pc is not running at optimum speed.
Because of marketing and a general non-understanding on how computers work, most people treat their computer the same way they treat their TV. Your TV has a remote control, and an on/off switch, you click it and it turns on and off. However a computer is actually more like your car than your TV. A computer needs a tune up (defrag), oil change (software updates), and sometimes requires major repairs (hard drive or memory replacements). If you watch TV you regularly see commercials for products that claim they double your speed or make your pc fast, however, you don’t have to pay to fix your pc, as making a slow-running computer run faster is often easier than you think.
Here are some steps you can take to make your pc run faster
Over time, the hard drive can become fragmented due to repeatedly adding information to it, then erasing it. This can create virtual holes in the hard drive where there is no information. If you image what happens in your own home when you don’t put things away where they belong, they become harder to find. This is the same thing that happens inside the computer, Condensing the information again is called defragmentation and can speed up your computer.
To Defragment XP computer
- Click Start –> Run and Type Dfrg.msc (This will start the Disk Defragmenter MMC)
- Click the volume that you want to defragment, and then click Defragment
To Defrag Windows 7
- Click Start –> Search –> Type dfrgui.exe and select the defrag program (as shown below)
Click the volume that you want to defragment, and then click Optimize. In the same window, you can select change settings, and set up a scheduled defragmentation.
The best way to speed up your computer is to empty out your hard drive, because when it is nearly full it has to search through more information to perform tasks. What happens if you become a hoarder in your home? You end up on an A&E reality show. Jokes aside the more files, and programs on your computer the more your computer has to search to find the files or programs that you click on. Removing programs and files you no longer need or use, will clear up space and make it easier for your computer to find what you click on. For things that you want to keep like movies, music or photos, moving them to an external hard drive would help as well.
To Uninstall Programs in XP
- Click on Start –> Control Panel –> Click on Add / Remove programs. Once the add/remove window opens highlight the program you no longer need and select remove. (NOTE: Make sure you know what the program does before removing it)
To Uninstall Programs in Windows 7
- Click on start –> Control Panel –> Programs and Features. One the programs and features window opens, select the program you want to remove and select uninstall.
Check Your Hard Drive For Errors (Both XP and Windows 7)
Bad sectors can appear on your hard drive after prolonged use, corrupting files or making it impossible to write information to your drive. The inside of a hard drive looks just like an old record player (its just this one spins a lot faster than 33, 45, or 78), and bad sectors is the equivalent of a scratch on your old album. The difference being that on your old album when the needle got stuck on a scratch you had to move the needle, on a computer a check disk can tell the computer where and when to move the needle. To check and fix bad sectors run an error check
- Click On My Computer (On the desktop) –> Right Mouse click on the C:\ drive and then click properties
- Once the properties window opens, you select scan (for XP) or Check (for Windows 7). Finally when prompted select “Attempt recovery of bad sectors”.
Spyware Removal (Both XP and Windows 7)
Spyware can slow down the performance of your computer, as well, as it allows websites and hackers to gain access to your information. To remove spyware, the 2 removal tools I recommend are SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes, and these can be downloaded and installed from the Ninite website.
- Once SuperAntiApyware is installed, open the program, click on check for updates (lower right), and then select Scan Your Computer. At that point, select complete scan, and Scan your pc. Once the scan finishes, pick all the items that appear on the scan and select remove.
- Once you have run the SuperAntiSpyware scan has completed, open the Malwarebytes program (NOTE: Do not run the 2 programs at same time), click on the update tab and select update
- Once you have updated the program, select the scanner tab, select a full scan. Once the scan completes, select all items found and select remove.
Memory, or RAM , is what is used by programs to write temporary information to your computer, making it easier for them to access certain bits of information without having to start from scratch every time. Unfortunately, some budget computer makers don’t ever seem to put enough memory in a computer (guess that’s why they are budget). Consequently, upgrading your RAM can improve the performance on your computer. If you are running Windows XP you should have a minimum of 2 gigs of Memory. For Windows 7 you should have a minimum of 4 gigs. Please note that memory and hard drive space are different. If you imagine a car memory is the fuel tank and hard drive space is the engine.
To Check How Much Memory You Have
- Click start –> Control Panel –> System. When system opens it will list how much Memory / RAM is installed.
- If you want to buy additional memory I recommend a site like Crucial, that will not only scan your pc and show you the correct memory to buy, but will even show you a video of how to add / replace your memory once you get it. Once you visit the crucial site, select system scanner and then select Scan My Computer.
- Once the scan completes, the page will show you how many slots you have to put memory in and what your choices are. Crucial prices are usually at or below the prices you will find in your local electronics store. If you want to comparison shop, just print out the page and take it to your local store and ask them if they can beat those prices.
- Once you get the additional / replacement memory, here is a sample of how easy it is to replace memory, shown in a video from the crucial site.
Run a good antivirus software, such as Microsoft Security Essentials or Panda Cloud Antivirus, to try and keep viruses from affecting the operation of your computer. In addition, make sure that your antivirus regularly gets updated.
Make sure all of your computer software is up to date. Updates typically boost computer performance by sorting out bugs that can slow it down. The following list is some of the most common software that needs updating
- Microsoft Windows / Microsoft Office –> In Windows XP visit the Windows Update Page. In Windows 7 you select updates from start –> Control Panel –> Windows Update
- Adobe Flash –> The key here is to visit the Adobe page from all your installed browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, etc.).
- Java, .Net, Silverlight, Air, Shockwave –> All of these programs can be updated at the same time via the Ninite website.
With those computer maintenance steps, you can clean up, and speed up your computer without having to pay for someone to clean it up for you.