I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Speeding up your slow PC is very similar to speeding up your slow Mac, with just a few minor differences that deal mainly with the organizational structure of the respective operating systems. The Microsoft at Work blog has laid out some simple tips for speeding up your Windows PC if it’s been a acting a little sluggish. I’ve listed six things below that I feel are the most useful.
- Leave at least 10% on your hard drive open and available (20% is better)
Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup > [select drive] > [select files to delete] > OK > Yes (when prompted)
- Remove temporary internet files and downloads
- Delete unwanted/unused programs
- Delete unwanted/unused files
- Delete unused or old System Restore points
- Clear the recycling bin
Programs require some physical RAM (hard disk space) when starting up and running. The more programs you have actively running, the more space required. If you don’t have sufficient space for the programs to easily run, then your computer may become slow. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep at least 10% of your hard drive free (a higher percentage is better) to allow plenty of room for the programs to run in. Another option that I personally use is CCleaner by Piriform. Not only does it function the same as Disk Cleanup, but it will also clear out the temporary internet files from most major browsers and remove old/unused registry entries.
- Protect and remove viruses and spyware with a good protector
Free tools such as the PC safety scan from Windows Live OneCare, Microsoft Security Essentials, and the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool can help to keep your system free of the security-compromising and memory-hogging viruses and spyware. OSU offers a virus scanner for free download to all staff, faculty, and students.
- Speed up data access
Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
In Windows, files can be come fragmented in your hard disk (think of it as placing bits wherever is most convenient) and while this is convenient for the operating system in the short term, it means that it will take the system longer to find the fragmented bits. To remedy this situation, it is recommended that you defragment your disk on regularly intervals (every week or so).
Windows Vista and 7 do not show a graphical representation of the Defragmentation, nor do they give a time estimate as was done in XP. For these reasons, I use Defragger by Piriform
- Check for disk errors
Start > Computer > [right-click the desired hard disk] > Properties > Tools (tab) > Check Now > Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors > Start
Files on your hard drive can become corrupted, and in some instances, entire sections can develop on your hard drive as it is used more. Files with poor integrity will show up as errors on your disk, and you can check for errors using the Error Checking Utility.
- Reduce startup items*
Start > Run (or type Run into the Start menu search bar in Vista and 7) > type “msconfig” > Startup (tab) > [disable unwanted/unused programs] > [save settings]
Programs that initiate during startup require RAM when loading. Combined this with the fact that the system is still loading, and you can have a very slow computer when starting. To minimize the wait time, reduce the number of programs that run at start up.
- Use ReadyBoost (Vista and 7 only)
ReadyBoost is a new feature to Vista and 7 that allows the user to use a USB flash drive to speed up your computers performance.
Learn more about using ReadyBoost:
*Requires Admin Privileges