Computer speed and performance can be greatly decreased due to many factors. Normal, everyday use can slow down a computer over time. The following tips will speed up a slow system or streamline a brand new computer.
Malware / Virus
Virus or Malware infections can slow your systems down to a crawl, or even make them unusable. Make sure your computer is free of all virus and malware. Make sure your anti-virus software and anti-malware software is up to date, and that your system is clean. You should run a full scan with each software daily. If you’re not sure you’re fully protected, check out my previous blog post “Preventing Spyware or Virus Infections“. If you think you might already be infected, take a look at my post “Recovering from a Spyware or Virus Infection“.
Defrag Hard Drive
PATA and SATA hard drives store data files in segments all over your hard drive. Every time your computer tries to read or write to one of those fragmented files, the read/write head frantically goes back and forth until it accesses every segment of that file. The Windows Defragmentation utility takes those segments and groups them together on the hard drive. Since the read/write head now only has to access the data in a single location, performance is greatly increased. I generally suggest running the Windows Defragmentation utility on a monthly basis if not weekly. If you’re using Windows 7, you may already be configured with weekly scheduled defrags.
NOTE: It is not necessary to run a defrag on a SSD (solid state) drive since these drives do not use a read/write head to access the stored data. On SSD drives running a defrag actually does more damage than good, and can actually reduce the life of the drive.
Bloat-ware and malware can plant themselves in the Windows startup. Luckily there are a few tools which can make it easy to clean up the Windows startup processes and services. For more information see my post titled How to Combat the Feared Blue Screen of Death.
How much memory do you have installed on your PC or laptop? It may not be enough for your computing needs. Take a look at how much memory you are using by clicking on the performance tab in the Windows Task Manager. I always suggest purchasing new computers with at least 4 GB of RAM (random access memory). If you don’t have enough memory installed, your computer will compensate by using your hard drive for temporary memory (also known as swap or paging). Since reading/writing to your hard drive is significantly slower than your RAM speeds, your computer slows down greatly the more you are paging.
If you have a fast computer with high speed Internet but it takes a long time to load web pages, your slow experience may be caused by your web browser’s add-ons or plug-ins. All of the major web browsers support them since they allow 3rd party vendors to create useful tools to do things like view a PDF file in your browser, prevent pop-ups, or remember your passwords. Take a careful look at the add-ons you are using. Sometimes disabling the unneeded add-ons can greatly improve performance. Tool bar add-ons are a good example of an add-on that typically slows down your web browser since they often send data to the company they belong to. For more information about disabling add-ons, see my post on “Disabling Add-ons in Common Web Browsers“.
In a nutshell, by following the tips mentioned above, you will successfully restore your slow, laboring computer to the high speed machine you desire.