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Easy Steps to Increase your Computer’s Performance

Speed up your computerAs 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.

I write this with the assumption that you are already doing regular scans for virus and spyware. If not, see my blog post “Security is like an onion: End-User Security” . 

Increase Memory. 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.

About the author

Robert Borges

About Robert...

I have been in the IT industry since 1993 focusing mainly in networking. Though I got an early start as an amateur computer enthusiast, and wrote my first database app at age 12, I started my professional career working in the MIS department of one of the largest liquor distributors in the northeast. I started out there as a systems operator on the company’s two mainframe systems. From there I moved into PC support, and help design and implement the company’s first client-server network… This was back in the days of Win NT 3.51. I also worked on my first migration to NT 4.0 back then.

From there I went on to work with Novell 3.x and 4.x along with Windows domains and active directory environments. Working my way up from technician, to specialist, to administrator, and eventually all the way up to Sr. Engineer. I spent many years working for consulting firms, 9 of which I owned and operated my own firm.
Over the years, I have worked with (at an expert level) various versions of: Windows client and server operating systems (including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2);various virtualization technologies (Hyper-V, Virtual Server, Virtual PC, VMware, etc…); MS-SQL server 6.5- 2008 R2; Exchange 4-2010, and much more.

I am now Director of Information Systems at Bay State Integrated Technology focusing on cloud computing and IT service, with expertise in: IT Infrastructure & Architecture, IT Security, and Cloud Computing platforms & technologies (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS).

I am in a constant state of learning about new products, and new versions of products. Many of which we end up implementing in lab environments and sometimes for our clients. I have a pretty broad range of expertise and experience. It is my goal to share some of this experience on this blog to help enrich the IT community.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.robertborges.us/2012/04/windows/easy-steps-to-increase-your-computers-performance/

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