Is there anything more frustrating than a slow computer? You depend on your machine to be on the ball, but occasionally it seems to take a sick day. It chugs and lags when you ask it to perform the smallest task, like pulling up a document—and if your time is short, the wait can be especially infuriating. In the worst case scenario, your computer just rolls over and crashes after a long, long wait, causing you to potentially lose hours of work.
Is it time to put your system out to pasture? Not so fast. A simple tune-up may be all you need to speed up your computer and make your PC run faster. Fortunately, much of what you need to keep your machine running smoothly can be found right on your computer, or can be downloaded for free. Here are five ways to make your PC faster. Oh, and a word to the wise: Before performing any kind of major clean-up or tweaking, it’s never a bad idea to back up your hard drive.
Go through the control panel and discard unused programs – If you’re running Windows 7, access your control panel by clicking Start > Control Panel. From there, click on “Programs” and then “Uninstall a Program,” listed under “Programs and Features.” Your computer will then populate a list of apps that are currently installed on your computer. This is an excellent way to evaluate what you have installed on your hard drive, and you can remove larger programs that you don’t use very often to free up some space.
Run anti-spyware and anti-virus programs regularly – It’s very important to run anti-virus and anti-spyware checks at least once a week. It’s even more important to keep your definitions updated. Viruses and spyware can slow down your computer’s performance on a very significant level. There are several excellent free anti-virus programs available for download, and for spyware, you can download Spybot: Search and Destroy.
Make sure you have a significant chunk of free hard drive space at all times – Your PC needs a little room on your hard drive to process certain functions. Ideally, you should always have a quarter of your hard drive free for these occasions.
Perform regular disk clean-ups – It’s a good idea to make disk clean-ups part of your routine PC maintenance. Doing so empties your Recycle Bin, your temporary Internet folders, and your computer’s temporary download files. Neglecting these caches for too long can eat up gigs of your precious hard drive space! To perform a disk clean-up, click on “My Computer” (or whatever you’ve named your computer) on the desktop, left-click the icon for your main hard drive (usually the C: drive), select “Properties,” and then click on “disk clean-up.” The process might take a while, depending on how long it’s been since you last performed it.
Minimize the number of programs that start up with Windows – Some programs automatically come to life whenever you turn on your computer, or reboot it. This will slow down your computer, and is typically unnecessary. You’re better off just opening applications as you need them. To get a list of the programs that are booting up whenever you turn on your computer, click the Start button, and type “msconfig” in the search bar. Select the “Startup” tab, and check off any programs that you’re sure you don’t need at startup (of course, it’s always a good idea to leave your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs running). Make sure to click “Apply” to save your changes. You may need to reboot your machine when you’re done.
For more tips on how to keep your PC purring, visit:
Reclaim Hard-Drive Space at PC World
6 Tips to Make Your PC Run Faster at Microsoft
How Can I Make My Computer Run Faster? at Ask Leo