As you may have noticed, even the fastest computers tend to get slower as they age. These performance issues could be because either the hardware is no longer sufficient for the programs now running on it, or because it needs a little maintenance. Here are a few steps you can take to help speed up your system.
Memory is usually one of the most cost effective ways to increase performance on a system. In many cases you can increase performance by 40%. Please note if you are running a 32-bit version of Windows, don’t bother installing more than 4 GB as it will not be accessible to Windows. So how much memory should you install? It really depends on software you’re running. The more memory intensive your software is, the more benefit you’ll gain by installing more. As a minimum I generally suggest 2 GB for Windows XP systems and 3 GB for Windows Vista and Windows 7 systems. For the memory limits of Windows 7 visit http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa366778(v=VS.85).aspx#physical_memory_limits_windows_7
Defrag Your Hard Drive.
As I described in an earlier post (How to safely dispose of your old hard drive), I explained how files are stored in many blocks on your hard drive. The problem is that Windows tends to use the first available block when looking for space to store each of the pieces of your file. This causes fragmentation on your hard drive where file fragments are stored in several different areas of your hard drive. Running a disk defrag will take those file fragments and group them together making it much easier and quicker for your system to access and save files on your hard drive. I suggest running a defrag at least monthly. If you have Windows 7, the Windows defrag is scheduled daily by default, so you don’t have to worry much. If you’re not happy with the job the included Windows defragmentation utility is doing, there are several 3rd party utilities, like DisKeeper
that do an even better job.
Cleanup Windows Startup. Over time, programs and services are automatically added to the Windows startup procedures. This often happens as software is installed or updated. Sometimes malicious programs are added by Spyware or Trojans. If you are a more advanced user, you can use tools like MSConfig (built-in to Windows) or SpyBot Search & Destroy to determine which programs and services start when Windows starts up. Be very careful when modifying this as you could inadvertently disable your anti-virus or break your HP printer’s software. If this does happen though, you can simply undo your changes in these utilities.