Need for Speed? 6 Tips for a Faster PC
Whether you’re doing work or checking email, slow computers make simple processes frustrating and waste valuable time. Before you throw your PC against a wall and buy a new one, try these six tricks to boost its performance.
Run Your Virus Scanner
Sometimes, PC performance can be slowed by viruses or other malware. Many antivirus programs can be scheduled to scan every couple weeks, but it’s also easy to postpone the scan or forget. You may need additional programs to scan for and remove malware and spyware, so check out our blog about virus protection.
Clear Browsing Data
As you visit different websites, your PC downloads images, text, and other information for each page. By keeping those files handy, it can more quickly display the sites you visit frequently. Some websites also place tracking files called “cookies” on your computer to identify where you’ve been, which is a major way that Internet advertisements can learn what products might interest you. Periodically, you should clear out that accumulation of files; how often you should clean depends on how often you use the Internet. Once every month should be fine for most family PCs. Exactly how you delete your browsing history depends on what browser program you use. For Internet Explorer, click the Tools button, then go to “Safety,” and choose “Delete Browsing History.”
Remove Unused Programs
From the Control Panel, find the uninstaller tool and uninstall programs that you know you never use. Steer clear of the programs you don’t recognize, but you’ll be surprised how many old, unused programs accumulate over the years. That old word processor or video player that you replaced months ago is still taking up space. Delete it.
Cut Back on Startup Programs
Startup programs are a problem when you get frustrated just waiting for the computer to turn on. If you have to go do something else while the computer warms up, then you may have too many programs starting every time you turn on the computer. Those programs are running in the background, taking up memory, and slowing down your computer. Fortunately, there’s a special program that allows you to control which programs start up every time.
Click the Windows button and select “Run.” Then type “msconfig,” and it should take you to a pretty neat window with different tabs. By going to the “Startup” tab, you should find a complete list of the programs that start each time you turn on your computer. As with the last section, don’t touch the programs you don’t recognize, but if iTunes and Adobe Acrobat are starting every time, those may not be necessary. Keep your antivirus software, but unselect the other programs that you rarely use.
Defragment Your Hard Drive
As packets and sections of data are written and erased, the chunks of information get spread out and disorganized like books scattered along a bookshelf at odd angles. To make the information easier to access and make better use of the available shelf (hard drive space, in this analogy), defragmenting collects and aligns the books all together. When books are organized on one end of the shelf, they are easier to use and the empty part of the shelf is more useful instead of being cluttered with spread-out books. From the Windows button, find “Disk Defragmenter” and have the program analyze your main hard drive. If the disk’s result is more than 10% fragmented, your should defragment the disk. A large and heavily fragmented disk may take hours to defragment. Like “msconfig,” the defragmenter program can be accessed by opening up the start menu and typing “defrag.”
Upgrade your RAM or get an SSD Drive
If the computer was middle-of-the-line when it was purchased a couple years ago, it may just be necessary to upgrade the RAM for newer programs to run smoothly. You can also upgrade the hard disk drive (HDD) to solid-state drive (SSD), which is faster but more expensive. Unless it’s an older computer or you have a lot of experience, you probably don’t want to attempt a DIY (do-it-yourself) hardware upgrade with important parts.
A couple of these steps (mainly antivirus scan and defragmenting) can be scheduled for your computer automatically. To make sure you’re getting the most possible out of your computer systems, check out our Managed Services page.