Computers, like people, get old, and the advance in age corresponds to a decline in speed. The good news is there are ways to make that aging computer shake off its sluggishness (at least for a while longer) and perform the way it used to. This article contains tips on how to speed up your PC easily.
5 Ways to Speed Up Your PC
What do you do when your once dependable PC starts conking out? Many would want to ditch it in favor of a new system. However, if you’ve got money problems and are short on mortgage or rent payments, that may not be an option. And besides, as most computer nerds know, buying a new PC is NOT necessary because you can easily make it perform faster again… IF you know how.
Here are a number of practical ways to de-congest your machine and get it back in shape. Some affordable upgrade suggestions are also thrown in. The first three steps are pretty straightforward and free so even the inexperienced can do them. Steps four and five however, call for more time and advanced know-how, and occasionally, money to realize.
Do a thorough virus check. Viruses are usually to blame for system slowdowns. Anti-virus software like AVG Antivirus and Avira AntiVir get rid of them automatically so you’re always assured of a clean PC. Such programs provide complete virus scans, built-in capability to handle future viruses, plus free updates. Upon downloading the software, you’re guided through the scan and cleanup process. The end-result: a clean PC.
Defragment your hard drive. Saving and deleting stuff from the hard drive causes data to scatter all over the drive in pieces. The hard drive then has to search several places to retrieve one file, slowing everything down. Drive defragment will put order to the pieces so they make sense, hastening access times. System Tools in the Accessories of Windows folder has the defragment tool. Select “defragment” and wait. Letting the thing run overnight wouldn’t hurt if the drive is big.
Run a file cleanup. A sluggish computer didn’t get that way on its own. You, as its owner, had a significant hand in it. At some point, you might have clicked one too many OKs on checkboxes for installing stuff, tested out numerous freeware, and played a bunch of CDs. Now start up takes 10 minutes, three kinds of errors pop up when launching the browser, and crashes happen almost hourly.
Actually, how full the hard drive is has zero to do with PC operation speed, unless it’s practically filled to bursting that Windows has trouble writing temporary files. The real problem is that most programs you install feature components that are always running, which burdens the computer processor. One example is iTunes. It’s got a couple of components that are running in the background invisibly ALL the time. Both aid in iTunes communication with iPods when plugged in, but what’s the use of having them eat up memory and slow down the CPU if you do not own an iPod in the first place?
To view everything buzzing in the background, bring up Windows Task Manager by pressing Ctrl, Alt-Delete on your keyboard. Microsoft’s Processor Explorer is a slightly more complicated free app for use. Right-click any process to Google it.
Windows Vista and XP users have instructions they can follow to easily prevent unnecessary apps from loading upon StartUp. When done going over the various processes and removing those that aren’t necessary, the system will start performing faster, especially on StartUp since the programs it will load when Windows launches have been reduced. If this doesn’t work, call in the heavy artillery.
Go back to square one. Sometimes you’ve got no choice but to wipe out everything from the computer and start from zero. Even if a computer is well taken care of, there will come a time when starting over is easier than tracking down every single issue behind the slowdown or malfunction. Task one is pulling off all critical files and writing down program names important to you. This could mean placing video and MP3 on external hard drives together with whatever else you’d like spared from destruction (bookmarks, game files and email folders). Preserve all of it using external hard drives.
For computers made by big manufacturers, re-installation from scratch probably involves simply slipping in a recovery CD and selecting the “restore” option. Some firms don’t even need a disk as all info required is tucked away somewhere on the hard drive that can be accessed when a complete do-over is called for. If there’s no restore disk, you will need a Windows key that is usually found printed on the PC label, plus one install disc.
Upgrade Windows. If Windows was recently installed and you still have problems running some programs, there’s not much that can be done with the hardware. It’s time to upgrade. Sounds daunting, but don’t worry. You just need to focus on a few key parts in the upgrade task.
RAM acts as the system memory and is the first to be checked. RAM can speed up stuff like running multiple programs simultaneously and switching among them. Go to System under the Windows control panel to find out how much RAM you’ve got. Determine how much can be added by counting the number of sockets the motherboard has. Choose the correct specs by checking out the upgrade guide of PCWorld. Go to eHow.com for advice on RAM installation. RAM is super cheap so if you add some, get the maximum your PC can accommodate.
The other thing to think about is the video card. If you own an inexpensive computer, you’re most likely utilizing built-in integrated graphics in the motherboard instead of a distinct graphics processing unit (GPU) that’s more powerful. If you can’t play 3D games without encountering issues, then adding another GPU might take care of the speed problem. See to it that the motherboard can support the card purchased.
Newer systems utilize PCI Express while older ones use AGP ports. Refer to the computer manual to verify which one you have. Opt for the cheaper variety of cards. Although many will recommend a CPU upgrade too, it’s usually too complex to bother with if all you’re after is additional speed. If a new processor is required, consider just buying a new PC altogether.
When confronted with a sluggish computer system, most people automatically think they need to crack open the hardware and tinker around inside to improve performance. However, with so many options for solving the problem, this seems like more of a last resort solution, especially for casual PC users. Take baby steps when it comes to approaching the process of boosting computer speed. Chances are you’ll find that trusty computer bouncing back and acting like it used to minus having to plug any extras.
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