We all know our computers start to run sluggishly after we’ve used them for awhile and most of us wish our PC would be as fast as it was the day we bought it. Unfortunately for us all, after using our machines for awhile, we start to notice that Windows doesn’t load as fast as it used to or a program takes well over a minute to load when it used to pop up in a few seconds. Again sadly, unless you’re willing to revert to the factory defaults programs and not add any of your own, your machines performance is going to take a hit. Luckily, there are things we can do to help our PC’s performance, many of which don’t even require us to download or install anything.
A Few Helpful Tips
addrun – “This guide shows you how to improve your PC’s performance and the run command is required to use several of these built in features of Windows as shown in this guide. If you are running Vista, 7, or have removed the run command from the start menu it is highly recommended that you add it to your start menu now. You can add the run command by editing the Taskbar and Start Menu options in the control panel, navigating to the start menu tab > Customize > and checking the Run Command box.”
-Defragmenting your Hard drive.
Fragmented files are a heavy hitter on any PC’s performance; they increase the time it takes for Windows to search through a section of your hard drive as well as slow performance when opening a program. Launching and using Windows Disk Defragmenter is simple, from the start menu simply navigate to all programs > accessories > system tools > Disk Defragmenter or simply open the run command box and type “dfrgui” (Without the quotation marks) and the defragmenter appears.
dfrgui *The appearance of Windows Disk Defragmenter as well as features will vary depending on what version of Windows you are using, I am using Windows 7 RC.*
Once opened you have several options, you can select all or one of your hard drives and tell Windows to defragment the drive(s) or (Windows Vista and 7 Only.) you can schedule when Windows automatically begins defragmenting your PC. (Please note that your PC will not defragment when turned off)
Once your disk has been defragged you need only return to Windows Disk Defragmenter to view the results and close out the defragmenter.
-Disk Check (Restart Required)
After you’ve defragmented your disk you may also wish to check for bad sectors on your hard drive, to do so simply navigate to your hard drive. You can find your hard drive in my computer, right click on the hard drive you wish to check and select properties. One you’ve selected properties a new windows appears with several tabs, select tools and click on the check now button.
Yet another new window will appear, this time check both boxes next to “Automatically fix file system errors” and Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors” and select the start button. Finally Windows will give you an error message saying that it can’t check the disk while its in use so simply select Schedule disk check and the selected disk will be check the next time you start up windows.
*Please also not that you can get to the Windows Disk Defragmenter by selecting the tools tab in the Local Disk windows and clicking on defragment now.*
localc-Boost Windows Startup
We’ve all been there, old machines or just plain slow ones taking extended periods of time to boot into Windows and 9 out of 10 times this is more our fault than our machines. Many of us overload our machines with all the applications we use, but some thing still more of us are unaware of is that those programs also add themselves to a startup menu so that when Windows boots up, these programs load in the background, improving the time it takes to load that program when you open it. Applications running faster when I open them that sounds great! But it’s not great in every situation, for example almost all of the programs installed on a machine add themselves to this list and we don’t need all of the programs we use all the time, the result is Windows loads much slower than it needs to be, we can also conserve random access memory (RAM) by preventing these programs from starting up with Windows.
To prevent these unnecessary applications from opening we need only open the System Configuration tool, this is done by opening your run command window, typing “msconfig” and the enter button.
Once the System Configurations utility has been opened you have several options, you can go to the general tab and select which drivers windows should load on startup, choose which partition to boot from when you start up your PC (if you have more than one os), selecting the services tab allows you to disable services running on your PC, and the tools tab shows you a list of built in services you can launch through that tab such as remote assistance or system restore.
You may have noticed I left one tab out of my description, that’s because this is the tab we are concerned with, the startup tab allows you to select services to startup with windows. To Prevent an item from starting up in Windows you need only uncheck its box on the left hand side of the screen , though it is recommended that you do not uncheck anything that you do not know the purpose of. AcroTray for example is a program associated with Adobe Acrobat, it allows users to start up adobe Acrobat or Reader faster than they would if AcroTray did not start up with Windows, I have disabled AcroTray as I do not use Acrobat often. Nod32 on the other hand is my AntiVirus software and I want that to start up with Windows so my machine is protected whenever it starts up.
If your having trouble telling which programs to disable, simply navigate to your Control Panel > Add Remove Programs or Programs and Features and compare the resulting list to the startup item description, lets say you see Nokia PC Suite in the Programs list and you also use see that in System Configuration, you don’t use this application much so and it has to do with your cell phone so its safe to disable this program in the Startup Tab.
Removing the Clutter
I mentioned before that your computer has to read through all the data in a sector in order to find what your looking for and hence why we should defragment our hard drive or rather, compress the files so they are easier for our computer to read, but it is also safe to say that PC clutter is another factor in your PCs response time. Because of this, I am going to show you a few easy ways to free up hard drive space so your computer spends less time looking for a certain file and more time, performing the tasks you need on a daily basis.
-Programs and Features
I mentioned this tool earlier but its worth mentioning twice, the Programs and Features utility allows users to safely remove unwanted programs from their computer, to do so all we need is to open our Control Panel and select Programs and Features and a new window appears with all of our installed applications.
As you can see, I have several Adobe applications installed on my machine, I use them daily for tasks like cropping the images used in this tutorial, but lets say I don’t really use AIM 6, to remove the application all I would have to do is highlight the item and select Uninstall/Change and an uninstall wizard would appear and guide me through removing this application from my PC.
Moms, Dads, parental figures of all sorts, I’ve heard many stories of the programs kids like to throw on their parents computers, this is a useful place to be every once in awhile to make sure your son(s)/daughter(s) haven’t installed Count Chocula the Video game or one of the many millions of applications available online.
The Disk Cleanup Utility does exactly what its name implies; it cleans up your disk, removing unused data taking up precious hard drive space on your machine. To open the Disk Cleanup utility simply type “cleanmgr” in the run command windows or navigate startmenu > all programs > accessories > system tools > disk cleanup.
Once opened you will be presented with a drop down menu containing all of the installed hard drives within your PC, select one and click ok, Disk cleanup will automatically scan the hard drive and tell you how much space can be freed and a new windows will appear upon completion.
Simply navigate through the above fields and choose which ones you would like to delete or keep by checking or un-checking each box, the disk cleaner shows you how much disk space you are freeing up as each item is checked or un-checked, I’m about to free up 1.20 GB of data (Its been awhile).
*Please also read the description for each item as you go to make sure your not getting read of anything you’d rather keep.*
Click OK and you’ll be prompted whether or not you really want to delete these files, delete them and the disk scanner will clear the data and close out.
Virtual Ram (Restart Required)
Application junkies like my self often find themselves in a bit of a fix, you know you can’t have to many programs installed or your system will run sluggishly so you must choose wisely however there may be a solution to help keep your machine running smoothly even if you run a lot of applications at once and don’t have the money to spare for RAM or your system can’t be upgraded. Virtual ram is hard drive space that your system uses as RAM, though its not quite as effective as actual RAM it may be just enough to get your system over the top.
By default your system uses some of this hard disk space as ram, however we can increase the amount of Virtual RAM our system uses by opening the control panel and navigating to System > and clicking on advanced system settings to the left. (XP users you need only bother to find the Advanced tab in the cluster of tabs that will appear when you open the system Window, after this the instructions are the same.)
Once inside the System Properties Window select settings another window will appear, look to the top and again select the advanced tab.
sysprofvmemAfter you’ve selected the advanced tab look for Virtual Memory and select change, my system is defaulted to 1024 MB or 1GB of VRAM. Once you’ve done this, un-tick the “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives.”
Now the field listing all of your drives will fade back into view and you will be able to select the drive you would like to edit, I choose my D drive, an access drive with a few gigs on it, I’ll make use of a few of those by using it as vRAM, but you can use any drive you like, using whatever amount of space you’d like, if you have that much free on your hard drive.
After you’ve filed in Initial size and Maximum size select the Set button and then the Ok button.
You will be prompted by Windows to restart your machine, if you feel like restarting now, hit ok, if you’d like to restart later simply close out the windows by selecting the X button to the top right side of the window.