How to enhance your PC's speed

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When you bought your new PC it was fast. A huge improvement over the old machine.But just a year later the PC has slowed down dramatically. The time taken to start has increased from a few seconds to several minutes.

Shutting-down now takes forever. Loading programs and saving documents has become very slow. What has caused your PC to become so slow so quickly and what can you do to enhance its speed?

PCs running under the Windows operating system slow down very quickly for a number of reasons.

Data fragmentation

As files are added and deleted on your machine, file fragmentation takes place. Think of a brand new pack of cards. All of the hearts are together and in sequence. If you need to access the 8, 9, 10 and Ace of hearts, it is a very quick process to find them. But once the cards have been shuffled, the process becomes much longer.

Spyware, Tojan Horses and viruses

If you machine does not have anti-spyware software installed, there is a 99% probability that your computer is infested. It can happen within a few seconds of connecting an unprotected machine to the Internet. Trojan Horses operate just like Trojan horses in ancient Troy. They conceal themselves within your system work their and start working their evil. Many anti-virus and anti-spyware packages do not deal with these effectively. Viruses do more than just slow down your machine. They could render it unusable!

The start menu

Many programs installed on your computer load into memory at start-up whether you se them or not. The more programs that load, the slower the machine.

Windows Registry

Windows maintains a registry of programs that are added and removed. It does this badly, so that the registry often does not reflect reality. As programs are added and removed, the registry tends to become somewhat corrupt.

The pre-load

Every time windows loads a new file or program, it adds the details into a prefetch file. This is loaded into windows every time it starts. Windows tries to find all the files. It takes longer when they are not there.

Temporary files

Windows may try to load the many temporary files that it creates into memory at start-up.

Missing networks

Windows searches for every network defined in the system at start-up.

A variety of solutions can be tried to speed up your machine, but before you get taken in by some of the offerings on the Web, remember that many of these are bogus. Products are advertised as free solutions. After downloading and running the software you are presented with a massive report of over 300 problems. If you then buy the free product, you will get a key that unlocks the code to fix your machine. It is unlikely to make any difference! If you fall for these solutions you will usually be wasting your money.

A variety of programs masquerade as anti-spyware packages. After downloading, it reports that your machine has 1281 spyware threats. You have to pay to remove these threats. Many of these packages are Spyware or Trojan installers. Apart from trying to get you to part with your hard-earned cash, they can cause considerable damage to your system. Investigate before downloading anything. A Google search will normally tell you what you need to know.

The packages mentioned below have all been tried and tested.

Run Windows defrag.

Select this from the control panel and select each hard drive separately. If your drive was very fragmented this may be all that is required to speed-up your machine.If you have not defragmented your machine recently, this could take several hours. Run the defrag regularly and it will only run for a few minutes each time.

Use a Registry cleaner.

Registry Mechanic works well. Try the 30 day evaluation version. A clean registry should help to make your PC run faster.

Advanced Windows Care

This is a freebie from It examines your system for a variety of problems and fixes them. This may help to improve performance. IOBit also have a free defragmentor that runs on your machine and constantly monitors file fragmentation.

Windows Defender

This is standard in Windows Vista and may be downloaded for free from the MSN download page for Windows XP. This is the Windows' free spyware remover. Use it in addition to another anti-spyware package. In addition to the scanning facility it has some useful tools that include Software Explorer. This allows you to see what is running on your computer and gives you control over the programs that are loaded at start-up. Many programs load at start-up and remain resident in memory constantly. They can become a major drain on machine resources, and it is usually better to remove all but the essential ones. Don't try to remove anything that you are not sure of.

Trojan Remover

This will eliminate Trojans. I used the fully-functional evaluation version to save a machine that could not be used. The problem was solved.

Free Disk Space

Check your free disk space. Windows prefers at least 25% of the hard drive to be free space. This may sound ridiculous, but it is true. Ideally, purchase an external USB Hard drive to store your videos and music and to back up your machine. The more free space on your machine, the faster it will run. Uninstall any unwanted programs. All those programs that you have installed and never use should be removed. They use up space and resources. WIndows' Disk Cleanup can be used to to remove temporary files,

Windows prefetch

Clear the Windows prefetch file. Get detailed instructions for this from the Web. It will speed-up your start-up.

Anti-virus software

Install a good anti-virus program. Avast have an excellent free program for home use. It works better than some of the premium anti-virus packages!

Remove unused networks

Remove any unused network references. Go to Control Panel, Network connections, and remove any networks that you no longer use.

Additional hardware

Windows is very memory hungry. RAM (the memory that a PC uses) has become relatively inexpensive. Most PCs are able to accommodate a limited amount of RAM, but it is a good idea to upgrade to the maximum possible for your PC. This will probably provide a major boost to your PC's speed. If you have used most of the capacity of the hard drive, then consider buying an external hard drive to store your pictures, music and movies. Freeing up your hard drive will enhance your PC's speed.

You have spent the last five hours trying to tune your machine. If it is up to speed, congratulations! You can skip the next section.

If you still have problems, then it is time to reinstall Windows! When all else fails, this is usually the best route to go. To be safe, back-up your machine first! Re-install Windows using the Operating System CD that came with the machine. On some machines the installation files may be on a separate partition of the hard drive. Reinstalling Windows will take between 60 and 90 minutes.

Once the installation is complete, you can download and install all of the updates that have been applied since the last installation (or when you bought your machine). Windows can take care of that automatically.

If your machine is still slow after all of this it may be time for a new machine!

As a last resort (many will argue that this is a better option altogether), replace Windows with Linux! Windows inevitably begins a path of slowing down from the moment you begin. Linux is somewhat more stable and efficient. A variety of Linux options are available the most popular being Ubuntu. Remember that your Windows programs will not run on this platform! There are Linux alternatives available for most applications and many of these are free. For example, Open is a good office suite available totally free. But be prepared for a major change.

source : | Learn more about this author, Barry Marcus.


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