At some point in time, we all reach the point where our computer is not running quickly as we like. With an ageing computer, it’s almost inevitable. But, there are many things that you can do, short of buying a new computer, that allow you to get a quicker, more responsive computer. Before I give you my ten tips, I want to introduce you to a tool that comes with Windows Vista and 7 that assesses your computer’s problems. It’ll give you a better idea of what might be the main problem with your computer, and enable you to fix the problem Speed Up Your Computer(s).
Firstly, click Start, then Control Panel. Now go to the System and Security tab and click System. In the menu that appears, click Performance Information and Tools under the See also heading off the left panel. Next click Advanced Tools in the left panel and in the new dialogue, scroll down and click on Generate a System Health Report. This will take a few minutes to identify possible issues with your computer. It might also be useful to re-assess the Windows Experience Index. If you need any help with interpreting these results, just contact us. Without further adieu, here are my top 10 tips for how to speed up your computer:
1) Free disk space
Perhaps the most obvious option is simply to free up some of your disk space. This provides more space for the system to run and thus your computer can be quicker as a result. To do this, click Start, Control Panel, click the Programs tab and then Programs and Features. Then a list of your programs will come up. Simply select a program that you don’t need or don’t want anymore and click uninstall. It’s that easy! After you’ve removed some unwanted programs, especially large programs, you should notice your computer speed up a bit.
2) Clear your internet cache
Here’s another tip that people often forget. Clearing your internet cache can boost the speed of your browser and by extension, your computer. What is the internet cache you ask? When you visit internet sites, your internet browser stores information in a folder, called a cache. If it’s been a long time since you’ve cleared your cache (or you’ve never cleared your cache) then it’d be a good idea to clear it. Here’s how to do it on Internet Explorer: Go to Tools, then click on Internet Options. Under history, click on Delete and tick the types of stored data you’d like to remove from the cache.
3) Run a disk cleanup
Often an overlooked feature, the ability to run a disk cleanup is a simple and effective way to make your computer run faster. Basically, disk cleanup identifies and removes superfluous system files, helping to make your computer run quicker as a result. To access this tool, click Start, Computer then right-click the disk that you want to clean (usually your C:/ drive) and click Properties. In the popup that appears, click disk cleanup. The program will then assess your computer and present you with various options of files that it can remove and the amount of space that will be freed. If you’re unsure about what to select, simply leave the defaults. Then, disk cleanup will run and do the rest for you! Another program that’s good to download which performs a similar function is CCleaner.
4) Perform a defrag
Another powerful tool that you can use that most people don’t utilise is the defragmentation tool that comes with Windows. Defrag analyses the way that the files are arranged on your hard drive and re-arranges them to promote speed and efficiency for your computer. It’s like auditing and sorting the computer’s files basically. To run a defrag, go to Start, Computer and then right-click on the drive you want to run a defrag on and click Properties. From the dialogue that appears, navigate to the Tools tab and click on Defragment now. From there, follow the prompts to analyse and defragment the volume (this part slightly different depending on your version of Windows) (P.S I’m following my own advice and ran a defrag on my own computer whilst writing this).
5) Scan your computer for spyware and malware
If your computer is running slow constantly, this could be due to a virus, spyware program or similar malware. You mightn’t even know that the program has accessed your files and it altering system settings (not a nice thought). If you have an anti-virus or other anti-malware programs on your computer, run a full system scan and check to see if there’s anything lurking around that shouldn’t be there.
If you don’t already have a program installed, you can download Microsoft Essentials for free, http://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/mse.aspx. AVG is also a popular free anti-virus. Most Windows computers also have a defender on them, so navigate to Control Panel and click Windows Defender to open it. Then perform a full system scan. Various other anti-spyware and anti-malware programs and also available. A quick search on Google will bring up many of these. I say this because it’s often good to run more than one type of anti-malware program. This is sort of like getting a second opinion. One program might find something that the previous didn’t, or one may be more akin to finding certain problems, on certain operating systems and so on…
6) Run chkdsk
Chkdsk (check disk) is a neat little program that can check your computer for errors. Sometimes your computers file system can accumulate errors, much like DNA can accumulate mutations over the period of a person’s lifespan (though at a higher rate of course). These errors have to be fixed or they can cause problems with the functioning of your computer and cause it to run slowly. Here’s how to access it:
Go to Start, Computer and right-click on the drive you want to run chkdsk on. Then click on Properties and navigate to the Tools tab. From there, click on Check now. You may be required to provide administrative access to do this. Check both of the tick boxes and click start. If you do this on your C:/ drive then your computer will prompt you to do this on restart. When you’re ready, restart the machine and chkdsk will run then, automatically fixing any errors that it encounters.
7) Auto-allocate your virtual memory
This one’s a neat little system change that I often perform when trying to speed up someone’s computer. This is because most older computers don’t auto-allocate their virtual memory, causing the system to run slower as a result. This may not be the cause on newer computers, but it’s worth a check anyway. By auto-allocating virtual memory, the system can determine how much space it needs to perform and set-up tasks, leaving additional space available for the system to run smoothly. To auto-allocate your virtual memory, click Start, Control Panel, click the System and Security tab, then click System.
Once you’re at the System screen, click on Advanced system settings (in the left panel). You may be required to provide administrator access. Then under the Performance heading, click Settings. In the dialogue that appears, navigate to the Advanced tab and then click Change under the Virtual Memory box. Here click the checkbox that says “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives”. Click OK. You may need to restart your computer. If the tick box is already checked, then this setting is already applied.
8) Alter your visual settings
If your computer is still running slow, you might get a vast improvement from lowering your visual settings. We all love the new whizz-bang graphics of modern-day operating systems, but for some older computers (end even some newer ones) this can be a taxing task to complete. To adjust the visual settings, click Start, Control Panel and then click on the System and Security tab. From the next menu, click on Advanced system settings link on the left panel. On the dialogue that appears,
click on Settings under the Performance panel. Then you can click the “Adjust for best performance” radio button or tick the boxes of the visual settings that you want to remove. It is usually best to remove things like aero peek, transparent glass, drop-animations and fading, depending on how serious your slowed computer is. You can alternatively right-click on the desktop, click Personalise, and then scroll down to Basic and Classic themes and choose one of those. If what I described before seems too difficult, choose the Basic option via this method.
9) Change your bios
If you’ve still got a slow computer that’s not acting as fast as you’d like, then you might need to fiddle around with the bios. The bio is a simplistic interface that allows you to edit the computer’s hardware settings. To access bios, you must hit a specific key upon a system startup (this means you’ll have to restart your computer). Common keys include F2, F8 and DEL. The screen that flashes up for a few seconds the first thing you turn the computer on should tell you what button,
otherwise just try to press all the above-mentioned ones. Once the bios come up (it should be a very plain, often blue background screen) you’ll have to locate a setting that is along the lines of Graphics allocation. I can’t give you direct details because not every bio is the same. I also point out that not every bio has this option. Basically, you want to change this graphics allocation to be a higher number. Say it’s set to 64MB, change it to 128MB, or as high as it goes. Again, if you can’t locate it under any of the tabs, then your bios don’t support this function, unfortunately.
10) Upgrade your hardware
By this stage, you should have really noticed a change in the performance of your computer. If you haven’t, or you’re still not happy with the speed of your computer, then you’ll need to upgrade your hardware. Sometimes, this is as simple as getting more RAM (random access memory). Other times it can be more complicated, like altering your motherboard. You’ll need to get some more advice in order to determine what’s needed, so you can contact us on our website in order to find out what we recommend for you.