Is your computer running slow? Are you ready to throw it out for a new one but can’t afford to do so? If so, then here are tips to save your PC from performance lags
1) Remove “trialware” or “teaseware”
The first thing you should do when you receive a new computer (specifically windows) is to remove preinstalled software that is installed.
Click here to find more about trialware.
To remove programs installed on:
Window XP, click here
Window Vista/7, click here
2) Remove spywares and viruses
While spyware is more a security concern than a performance one since they collect personal information without your knowledge and when you visit a websites and enter your user names and passwords, spyware can stores these values and send it off to the creator of the spyware thus putting your confidential information at risk.
Spywares can also degrade your computer’s performance as they are constantly running out of sight in the background. To get rid of spyware, you can use a virus scanner or PC safety scan from Windows Live OneCare. This scan is a free service that helps check for and remove viruses.
3) Free up disk space
It goes without saying that a cleaner/emptier hard disk will give the operating system more breathing space to do what it does best (run other smaller programs that collectively serve the needs of its users). Here is the list of ways to set some of that hard disk space.
There are many third party tools that help clean up your hard disk but the one I recommend the most is WinDirStat because it visualizes your data showing the user what are the files that are taking up the most space, it also color codes the files according to their extension (also know as file type). You can see in the figure below how most of my C drive is consumed by a blue region which is mapped to system files so i will avoid them and move on to the next file type.
a) Disk Cleanup: This is a tool included with every windows installation which helps you to free up space on your hard disk to improve the performance of your computer. For more information and an easy video tutorial of how to use the disk cleanup tool, click here
b) Rid of the Shadow Copies: one of the best and worst feature of windows is that it will create a snapshot of your system every time you install a new program, update your drivers, install hot-fixes. This is useful if one of these changes messed up your PC but overtime it will build up and consume a large portion of your hard disk (may reach gigabytes). To free up space consumed by these snapshots you can use the “More Options” tab of the Disk Cleanup mentioned in the previous point:
Windows XP: More Options > System Restore Clean Up
Windows 7: More Options > System Restore and Shadow Copies -> Clean Up.
c) Post Service Pack cleanup: After installing a service pack, the installer packages are stored in “c:\WINDOWS\WinSxS” in case you later decide to uninstall the service pack but if you have gone months or even a year since your last service pack then you are probably comfortable enough to remove these installers. For instructions to remove these file, click here
4) Speed up access to data
Over time and extensive use of windows, system files and your data will be fragmented (the system is unable to put all the data sequentially and in order). Thus every time you try to access that file the system has to work out where all the pieces are, put them together in the memory before it can use it so to decrease performance bottle necks you should consider defragmentating your hard disk. Of course, windows comes with a pre-installed defragmenter but there are a lot of better free alternatives out there.
Update: Consider reading this post where I took a closer look at hard disk fragmentation
5) Detect and repair disk errors
Hardware never lasts forever (no matter how much we want it to), eventually your hard disk will acquire bad sectors which will render the data on it useless and writing to it a performance lag. The solution is to run the Error Checking utility and scan the hard drive for bad sectors. Right-click on the hard disk in question:
a) Select Properties then Tools Tab
b) Click Check Now
c) Select “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors” check box.
d) Click Start
P.S One final point and I can’t stress this enough, stay away from paid software that claims to fix registry issues or tune up your PC because at the end of the day they will cause irreversable damage to your registry which may require a re-installation of windows, as well as being programs themselves which hide in the background and use up both processing power and hard disk space thus will decrease the share given your remaining programs.
6) Increase your virtual memory
a) Click Start->Right click “My Computer” or “Computer” choose properties
b) You will see the System Properties window
Windows 7: Choose “Advanced system settings”
Windows XP: Choose “Advanced” tab
c) Choose “Settings” under Performance
d) The “Performance Options” dialog will pop up, choose “Change” under virtual Memory
e) Windows assists you by listing a “Recommended” value which you should set the virtual memory.