Winter’s over now, but your computer still wants to act like a hibernating bear; slow, sluggish, non-responsive. Before you consider trading it in for a faster model, try these five things to increase its speed and save yourself some money.
Clean Out Your Folders and Uninstall Obsolete Programs
Like attics, basements and junk drawers, your hard drive collects a lot of “stuff” over the course of the computer’s life.
For example, a quick review of my wife’s hard drive reveals that she has documents stored from two jobs ago, numerous drafts of our son’s 4th grade school project (he’s years beyond that now), and resource-hogging programs downloaded and forgotten about.
So, take a few minutes (or hours) and really examine what you’ve got stored on your hard drive and start culling the herd. If you really can’t bring yourself to hit delete, at least archive them on an external storage drive.
Then, open up your Control Panel, fire up your “Add and Delete Programs” tool, and start uninstalling the programs that you no longer need or haven’t used in the past year.
Turn Off Unnecessary Startup Programs
Check your Startup Menu Folder for any unnecessary programs that start up as soon as you hit the power button.
Also look at your taskbar, next to the clock. If you have a row of icons at the bottom of your screen, you’ve got a list of attention-seeking resource hogs that also run at startup. Go back into your control panel, select “Task Bar and Start Menu,” and turn off any programs that you don’t actually need the moment you turn your computer on.
Without the unnecessary baggage loading at start up, your computer will boot and run faster.
Protect Yourself from Viruses and Spyware
If you don’t already have one installed, invest in good antivirus software. Norton, McAffee, and TrendMicro are all well-known and well-respected names in the computer protection business.
Antivirus software identifies and removes known viruses, spyware and malware before they can wreak havoc on your computer. Viruses can destroy your computer while spyware and malware just slow it down by using your computer’s resources for their own, unauthorized tasks.
Always keep your antivirus software up-to-date and scan your computer often. Most products let you schedule a day/time and will run automatically. We recommend that you scan your computer at least once per week.
Check Your Registry, Then Clean It
Your computer’s registry is like the Library of Congress; it stores everything about every file ever created on your computer. And just because you’ve deleted a file or uninstalled a program, it doesn’t mean its entry in the registry is deleted. Windows is especially notorious for not removing registry entries when a program is uninstalled.
So it’s up to you to take a peek into that vault and clear out old entries. But, a word of caution; there are some risks involved with removing entries.
Deleting the wrong entry or key could cause your computer to go to sleep permanently. If you’re at all unsure, don’t delete anything.
Defragment Your Hard Drive
Computers are lazy machines. They want to run programs, not file data in an orderly manner. So they’ll pop that data into the first open space it finds as it travels along its inner super-highway, spreading files around all over the place.
Defragmenting your hard drive forces the computer to go out and gather all of the files that belong together and store them in an orderly manner for easier access. Without having to hunt and peck for all of the files to make a program run, your computer itself runs a lot faster.
The Defragmenter tool in Windows is also found in your Control Panel.
Bonus! 4 more tips for increasing your computer speed
Since we like our readers a lot, we’ve added four more tips for you:
- Add more memory – the more memory your computer has, the more tasks it can perform at once.
- Speed up your internet connection – your computer may be fine; sleek and swift like a cheetah. If you find that it zips along while you’re working on local documents, but slogs along when you hit the internet, you may need to upgrade your network.
- Speed up your internet connection part 2 – We get a lot of computers to look at because “they run slow” and everything on them is fine; until we open a browser and see 7 or 8 toolbars staring back at us. Those nifty toolbars will slow down your browser tremendously. Turn off any that you don’t really need, then go back to your “Add and Delete Programs” and remove them from your computer.
- Buy a new computer – if your computer is older than three years and you’ve tried everything you can think of but it still rolls over and plays dead, it may actually be time to trade it in for a new model.
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