How To Optimize Computer For Speed And Performance

Your computer used to be fast, but now it is not. This is probably the thing most computer users complain about most. While there are numerous reasons why a computer can slow down, there are also steps you can take to optimize your computer for speed and regain that performance your PC has lost over time. Granted, the best thing you can do is backup and reformat your hard drive and start over. This is not a desirable option for a lot of users, so the steps explained below are tips to help you get some performance back without sacrificing a lot of time or risking losing important data.

Why Do Computers Slow Down

Computers slow down due to file fragmentation, lack of resources, viruses, hard drive errors and heat. Before we begin, you should take a moment to backup your data in case you lose anything. The best way to backup in a hurry is to make sure anything important is in your Document and Settings folder and copy that to a USB drive or network share. By default, your My Documents folder itself should have most of your important data in it unless you manually saved to another location. While you should not lose any data during this process, it doesn’t hurt to be safe.

Optimizing Your Computer

Start by making sure all programs are up to date. If you do not automatically update Windows, be sure to visit Microsoft Update, as well. Having the latest version of Flash, Java, Windows and your Internet browser means you have all of the fixes and patches in place that could have been causing memory leaks or other errors that have been bogging your system down.

Next, scan for viruses. Viruses and other malware are notorious for slowing down a computer as they use a lot of resources in their bid to take over your computer as well as those all over the world. Make sure you’re virus free by using free programs like Malwarebytes and Microsoft Security Essentials.

You should now uninstall any programs you no longer use or need. You can do this from the control panel under Add / Remove Programs or sometimes from the start menu. Programs will often run in the background without your knowledge, using system resources that can slow down your computer unnecessarily. To disable other programs from loading at boot, you can go to Start>Run and type msconfig and hit Ok. Under the start-up tab, uncheck any programs you know do not need to load into memory at boot. This does not uninstall them, merely prevents them from using RAM when then do not need to do so.

Once you have all of the latest patches and have confirmed you are virus-free, you can now start optimizing your computer. A good place to start is to run Disk Cleanup. To do this, go to Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Disk Cleanup. It might take a while for Windows to analyze your computer, but once it is done it will show you a list of files that can be removed to help you regain space on your hard drive. After this has completed, the next step is to run the Disk Defragmenter from the same location. Disk defragmenter moves files to the front of the drive so the hard drive to speed up access to them.

error checkingNow that your disk is organized and free of clutter, you should run error checking on your hard drive. You disk will have errors on it, so this process will fix those errors and also map out bad sectors on the drive. To run this utility, open My Computer and right-click the C: drive and then select Properties. Next, click the Tools tab and under error-checking have it scan for bad sectors and automatically fix the errors it finds. The error-checking will run the next time your system is rebooted.

One of the last things you can do to optimize computer for speed is make sure your PC is free of dust bunnies. You can use a can of compressed air to clean the front intake grill and the rear exhaust fans and power supply area. If you feel comfortable opening your computer case, you can also blow the inside of the case out as well as the CPU fan. Make sure your work area is clean and your PC is located in a well-ventilated area. The cooler the PC, the faster it will run.

Category: Tips

About the Author ()

David is a tech professional with over fifteen years of experience in the IT fields of hardware, software and system administration.

Comments (6)

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  1. speed pc up says:

    This is really key info for keeping your pc running fast, and it is also important to regularly clean out all the old junk files – I use CCCleaner which does a great job every time I run it after using my pc. I really recommend it.

  2. Good point! slowing computers are pretty much biggest problem of all times (for windows users). I think its just a nature of the beast. The essence of windows is not to be overloaded and kept as clean as possible at all times. its clear that the more software you install and use(or dont use) the worse over time it gets.
    I reinstall my own windows every 6 months or so just to keep it refreshed.
    What I also do and recommend to everyone is right after you reinstall windows and you install the bigger portion of the necessary software you will use – create yourself an image file of your disk where the operating system is at. programs like acronis can help in that case. That way if you have to reinstall windows it can be done pretty quickly and without any major loss of programs.
    also to my clients I always set up and recommend to at least have separate partition on your hard drive at all times and store your important files on it.
    So when your computer is slow you can quickly resort to and do a reinstall, start new and fresh, because I personally greatly dislike slow computers more than anything and I think you do too 🙂

  3. Computer Repair Services in Haslett Michigan says:

    I’ll hand this out to my clients! These are all things we always do to speed up a computer but I’ve never taken the time to write it out like you have! Sometimes the best way is to just take all your precious data and format and install a fresh copy of Windows or preferably Linux to prevent viruses!

  4. Tune Up says:

    Great explanation! Don’t forget that a slow computer is also due to lots of useless programs installed on the computer. I have some other suggestions that might help you to establish a fast and good working computer. We did a test on a few PCs to see how different approaches can impact boot-up, shutdown, and even virus scan time. So please take a look and tell me what you think works best for improving your computer’s performance: http://bit.ly/aaNdxU.

  5. rif says:

    Because malware is so widespread, it is a good idea to scan for malware.

    To help prevent malware infections in the future and secure your computer, you also need perform windows updates for the operating system, microsoft office, as well as updates for third party programs. Secunia psi is very helpful for scanning your computer for third party programs with known vulnerable programs.

    You’ll notice a big difference with defrag on older or poorly maintained machines. Make sure all disk have at least 15% free disk space. Go to add/remove program and remove any programs you no longer use. Never remove a program if you’re unsure or don’t know what it is or what it does.

    Regarding start up programs, there are better ways to manage them. Mike Lin’s starup control panel comes to mind.

    Other things to check:

    Go to device manager check if any IDE drives are stuck in PIO mode. Uninstall them if they are and reboot.

    Make sure there’s only one real time malware program running. Using more than one can cause very poor performance and/or stability issues.

  6. Thanks , I’ve just been looking for information approximately this topic for a long time and yours is the greatest I have found out so far. But, what concerning the conclusion? Are you certain in regards to the source?

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