Archive for September 8, 2009

Fall cleaning: Four tips to speed up your PC

Fall autumn alarm clock computer clean

Fall is a good time to clean out your computer's virtual cobwebs.
[PHOTO: Courtesy of orvalrochefort]

This is a good time of year to get your computer into tip-top condition. Without regular maintenance, its speed will plummet and performance will suffer.

Here’s how to boost your PC’s performance:

Tidy up. Does your computer take a little longer than it used to to start up? It’s possible that too many programs are trying to start when you turn the machine on. To pare them down in Windows, go to the Start menu, click All Programs, and then Startup. Once in the menu, delete the programs you don’t need to see in the taskbar right from the get go, or just don’t use that often. If you don’t recognize a program, don’t delete it until you’ve determined what it’s used for. You should also clean up your hard drive: Delete temporary files by running Windows' Disk Cleanup tool under Programs-Accessories-System tools. It's usually safe to choose all the listed items except "Compress old files."

Uninstall unnecessary programs. If your hard drive is more than 50 percent full, the computer will run more slowly. One way to free up space is to uninstall programs installed that you never use anymore. To do this in Windows, first go to the Control Panel. In XP, click on “Add/Remove programs.” In Vista, click on “Programs and Features.” Then scan the list of installed programs for those you don’t need and follow the instructions for uninstalling them. Temporary Internet files, cookies, and other downloaded items can also clog up your hard drive. Delete those in your browser by selecting the option under the Tools menu.

Add memory. This is an inexpensive way to speed up your computer, especially if you have less than 2GB installed. You should notice the difference instantly.

Defragment the hard drive. With frequent use, a computer’s hard drive can become less efficient at storing and retrieving files, a process known as fragmentation. To spiff up its performance, defragment it, either by using the operating system or a third-party software application. The process can take hours, or even a day or two, depending on the size of the hard drive. —Will Dilella

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