How to Improve Your Computer’s Performance

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Just as your car begins to depreciate in value the moment you drive it off the lot, it seems your computer starts to move slower the moment you start using it.  All the e-mail attachments, web videos, toolbars, programs and more you use or view all seem to play a role in moving your computer slower and slower.  Before you know it, you realize you’re waiting more than a minute for the system to turn on or for certain programs to load. Following are some tips and tricks for how to speed up your PC and similar high-tech gadgets’ performance so you can have it moving like new again.

Defrag your computer – It’s a phrase that many of us have heard but we may not understand what it means.  Essentially, the disk defragmenter organizes files in a way that they can be quickly and easily accessed in the same space, making your computer run quicker.  The Defrag process searches for and consolidates files, grouping them together.  It may take a few minutes to run, but it will make your computer run much faster.  It’s a good idea to run Disk Defragmenter from your start menu at least once or twice a year, perhaps around the start or end of daylight savings time.  Microsoft actually recommends running it weekly, but that doesn’t seem very realistic.

Monitor Your System – Using either built-in Windows feature or additional software from trusted companies like Norton, Symantec or McAfee, make sure you’re monitoring your computer for spyware and malware that may be unknowingly slowing your system down.  It’s imperative you keep these programs up to date, so you’ll probably need to run them at least once a week, but ironically the process of doing a full system scan every week will slow your computer down during that time, so make sure it’s at a time where it won’t interfere with your use.

Monitor What’s Monitoring Your System – Just as important as monitoring your computer, you must make sure whatever spyware you are using isn’t the source of a computer slowdown, too.  If you’ve used multiple spyware removal programs, remnants may be in conflict.  Check your programs file in you’re My Computer menu and make sure to completely uninstall anything you’re not using.

Cleanup Your Hard Drive – To free up disk space and therefore make your computer run faster, use the Disk Cleanup tool to identify files that you rarely, seldom or never use and can safely delete.  Whenever you run a Windows error report, run a Java applet or even send things to the Recycle bin, there are often traces left on your computer that need to be cleaned up from time to time in order to maximize disk space.

Avoid Downloading Unnecessary Toolbars or Other Items – When you must download or install a computer, be very careful upon installation.  While many make it simple to keep clicking “Next” just to get the software on your computer, there are often tricky ways in which they’ll automatically install a search bar or other “helpful” add-on that will do nothing but make your computer run slower.  When installing programs, make sure you’re adding only what you need, and don’t succumb to the temptation to obligingly take their extras.

Manage Your Startup – Using a free program from Microsoft called Windows Defender, which comes as part of Windows Vista and can be downloaded for use with XP computers, check out your Startup menu and make sure that programs that are running when you turn your computer on really need to be there.  It’s likely you’ll find more than a few that serve no real purpose other than to slow you down.

Delete Your Cache – Update your settings for any web browser you use to keep your history and cache clear.  Large images and videos can quickly clog up your computer’s active memory.  Many folks also delete their cookies regularly, although we find them to be somewhat useful and not take up too much space. 

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About author

Johner Riehl

Johner Riehl is a freelance writer focusing on families, technology and online safety. As founder and editorial director for FamilyFriendlyApps.com and FamilyFriendlyVideoGames.com, sites that provide reviews and recommendations geared towards families, he examines hundreds of family-friendly games and apps every year. He’s also host of Parent Savers, a podcast aimed at helping parents of newborns, infants and toddlers. TWITTER: @FamilyTechDad

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