Speeding Up your Systems

Speeding Up your Systems
One of the most common complaints we hear is: “My computer is running too slowly – what can I do?”  There are actually a number of ways to improve this. The steps for XP and Vista are different but similar. Here are five recommendations to help boost your performance. 

1. Clean up your hard drive
A typical hard drive is full of files you may not need. Fewer Files will normally lead to faster performance. Windows has less overhead then..  

One good way to free up space is with the Windows® Disk Cleanup utility. Go to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools, and click Disk Cleanup. Make sure to specify which drive you want to clean.  Start with C: since Windows uses it the most. Consider cleaning others if they are actively used.

Cleanup has several phases: scanning, reporting, and removing files. When the scanning report is shown, scroll through the content of the Files to delete list and check the items you want to remove. Most files listed can be removed. You may want to keep the Office Setup Files if you do not have your MS Office CD. When you’re done, click OK

There is also a More Options Tab at the top. It allows removing seldom used programs and cleaning up the restore point Microsoft keeps. I would be very careful removing any programs. The restore point cleanup is a good idea. It leaves you with the last one. Microsoft builds this back up quickly.   

If you don’t want to delete files altogether, like photos and music or video files, consider moving them to an external hard drive. 

2. Get rid of visual effects
Windows Vista® comes with some high-end visual effects that drain system resources. Disabling some will speed your system. Use the Start button, and then Control Panel > System and Maintenance > Performance Information and Tools

Select Adjust Visual Effects. You may need an administrator password. Use the Visual Effects tab, and select Adjust for Best Performance. Then click OK. 

3. Scan for viruses and spyware
One of the main causes of poor performance is malware: viruses, spyware, Trojan horses, worms, and other kinds of malicious unwanted software. If you don’t already have some kind of antivirus protection installed, you should do so right away!

Consider using Microsoft Windows Defender, which is included in Windows Vista, and is available as a free download for Microsoft XP SP2. Make sure to schedule an automatic virus scan at least once a month.  You may also want to check out this antivirus product comparison table at Comparitech.

You may want a firewall running to help block malware from getting to your PC in the first place.  Make sure your important software is permitted through the firewall to avoid operations problems. You may need support to help with this.

4. Add more RAM (the easy way)
Adding system memory is a good way to improve a PC’s performance. Upgrading memory can sometimes be difficult and costly. Windows Vista now offers Windows ReadyBoost,

You can add memory without having to install anything. You can use a flash memory device, such as a USB flash drive or a secure digital (SD) memory card, as an additional memory cache. Windows will detect it and offer the ReadyBoost option in a popup. Just agree and you’re there.

5. Run a defragmentation utility
Disk Defragmenter is a Windows utility that consolidates files and folders on your computer’s hard disk, so that they occupy a single space. This speeds up reading and writing to the disk. 

Go to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter, then select the drive you want to defragment.  Go to Settings and make sure there’s a tick beside the two options in the section When defragmenting my hard drive, then click OK twice to begin.

When the defragmentation is done, you need to reboot your computer. This can take a while, even hours, depending on the size of your disk and speed of your system. The best approach is to do a backup of the disk first, and NOT use it while this is running. 

These are some common things you may want to try yourself. Try to make sure you keep a record of what you did and create a backup before proceeding.  You can go backwards if anything goes wrong. 

These are only a few ideas. There is a lot else that can be done with caching, buffering, system settings, etc. Call me to discuss this further or to have me help you with these and related ideas. A tune-up may be all you need.

If your system is very outdated, it may be best to just replace it. The prices are favorable at present..   CCS can arrange for that and I can do the install for you. 

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