Your PC stores files in different parts of your hard drive, as programs are extended and new files created over deleted ones. This process is called file fragmentation. An easy way to make your PC run faster is to make it easier for your hard drive to find the files it needs, speeding up direct read times. To run your Defragmenter, go to Start -> Control Panel -> System and Maintenance -> click ‘Rearrange items on your hard disk to make programs run faster’.
Turn off autoplay
The Windows autoplay function is handy if you want to start a DVD or open a USB stick as soon as you insert the device in to the PC. However, if you use external devices with a lot of data stored on them, Windows will slow down considerably to open these automatically, every time you insert them. If you would prefer to do this manually, turn off the autoplay function by following these steps: Start -> Run -> type gpedit.msc and push Enter -> Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> double-click Turn off autoplay -> Enable -> select All drives in the drop-down list.
Clear prefetch files
One of Windows’s ways of speeding itself up is to store important parts of programs in a folder called Prefetch. The Prefetch folder allows Windows to quickly access programs you run often. This folder can become a burden when it fills up with files you’ve opened just once, usage up your PC’s memory for a duplicated file it won’t use again. To open your Prefetch folder, go to Start -> Run and enter prefetch in the dialog box. This will bring up all the files. You can delete them all without concern. The files you use everyday will be restored next time you boot up your PC.
Turn off optional Windows apps
If you notice long delays to open a program, it’s possible you have a previously opened app running on an endless loop, not shutting down. This eats up all your processing power without you realizing. To fix this, open Task Manager, right click on the program and select Set Priority -> Below Normal. This gives your other programs priority for your PC’s processing resources.
Maximize your memory for running your programs, not making the desktop look pretty. Go to Start -> Control Panel -> System Preferences -> Advanced -> Performance -> Select the radio button ‘Adjust for best performance’
If you really want to see a big improvement in your PC’s performance, you could consider boosting your RAM. Your Random Access Memory is the part of your computer that runs the programs you have open. The more RAM you have, the more programs you can use — and the faster they will run. Upgrading your RAM means taking your PC to your local computer shop, where they will make the hardware change for you.
Clean out old files
Find and remove files that you don’t need. You may have documents that were relevant several months ago but their use has passed. You may have downloaded a lot of images attached to emails, such as a signature file. These have no use to you, but they take up room on your computer. To clear your old and unnecessary files, go to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Cleanup and select the files you want to remove.
Disable unused ports
Save memory by turning off the programs you don’t need when your PC boots up. This will stop Windows from finding and reading unnecessary apps at bootup, for example, the USB drive or CD-rom drive. Go to Start -> Control Panel -> Performance and Maintenance -> System -> Hardware -> Device Manager. You’ll see a list of devices Windows reads on startup. Double click one you don’t want (COM 1 is the communications port for the USB), then select the dropdown box ‘Do not use this device (disable)’.
Check your firewall
It’s possible a slow PC is the victim of a malicious program or virus, sometimes called ‘malware’ or ‘spyware’. Spyware keeps tabs on the information on your computer and may transmit it to thieves to use your credit card data or similar personal information. Check now if your firewall is turned on. Follow Start -> Control Panel -> Network and Internet Connections -> Windows Firewall.
Spyware will slow your PC down significantly and if you’ve got it, you should get rid of it immediately with an antivirus program. Click here for recommendations.
Clear your registry
The registry is like a library, storing your computer’s programs. With time, as programs are added and removed, and everyday programs opened more frequently than others, your registry ends up disorganized with files scattered everywhere. An old or cluttered registry will cause crashes and blue screen lags. Check out an instant registry cleaner here.