Computers are supposed to speed up our productivity…to help us do more in less time. What do you do when your computer is running so slow that it’s keeping you from getting your work done? Before you kick it to the curb, try these easy, do-it-yourself suggestions to help your system run & perform better.
Why do computers get slow in the first place? There are lots of reasons. When you first setup a new system, it’s usually fast and responsive. Applications open quickly, websites load instantly and startup and shut down take no time at all. But after a few months of serious use (installing and removing programs, downloading files from the Internet and general wear & tear) it’s normal for things to slow down a bit. This is where computer maintenance comes in…your disks and your file system need to be maintained for them to continue operating at peak performance.
According to an article from Microsoft.com (see link at the end of this article), there are 4 things you can do to increase the performance of your PC:
1) Free Up Some Disk Space
You can speed things up by deleting the unneeded files from your hard drive. Most recent versions of Windows include a nice utility called “Disk Cleanup" that does just what the name suggests…it cleans up your disks! It will scan your whole drive and return a list of files you can safely delete, which will free up storage space and also make your system more responsive. Temporary Internet files, temp files from documents, downloaded program files, and even items in your recycle bin can all be found and deleted using this tool. I would also recommend uninstalling any programs you no longer need, and any Windows components you don’t use. Once this is done, you can move on to the next step.
2) Speed Up System Access To Your Data
The more you use your hard drive, the more “fragmented" it gets. Simply put, after a while you start getting large gaps on your hard drive. Windows has to work around these gaps, and it does so by putting pieces of your data on various areas of your hard drive. The farther apart the pieces of your data are on the drive, the longer it takes Windows to put them back together again, which results in very slow performance. To fix this problem, you should run the Windows “Disk Defragmenter" regularly. This built-in tool will remove most of the gaps on your hard drive and place all your data in close proximity, which saves the operating system time…and that means a faster computer for you!
3) Find and Repair Any Errors On Your Disks
Sometimes sectors of your hard drive can go bad. There are lots of causes for this issue, but the bottom line is that bad sectors can slow down your hard drive performance and even cause you to lose data. Fortunately, Windows includes a utility to deal with this: it’s called “Check Disk". When you run Check Disk, it will scan your whole hard drive and find and fix errors, including bad sectors. Once you run this utility and fix any problems it finds, you’re ready for the final step.
4) Deal With Any Spyware Installed On Your Computer
I hate spyware! As a technician, nothing frustrates me more than a system infested with adware, spyware and downloaded Internet junk. Some of this stuff is really hard to remove, and the privacy issues surrounding spyware are also serious concerns. Show me a computer full of spyware and I’ll show you a computer that’s running way slower than it should be. Microsoft has released a free product called “Microsoft Anti-Spyware", and it works great for not only cleaning up existing spyware, but also for blocking it from getting installed in the first place. If you protect your system from spyware, it will reward you by performing better and lasting longer before requiring expensive repairs.
Once all the spyware is gone and your disks are working optimally, your system should be much faster and more responsive. If you need instructions about how to find and use the various maintenance utilities mentioned here, this article from Microsoft (as mentioned before) will help:
Donnie Schexnayder is a ministry technology expert. He holds industry certifications from Microsoft and CompTIA and has over 10 years experience in supporting churches and Christian ministries with technology. With a mixture of passion and expertise, Donnie helps ministries advance their mission of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth by using cutting-edge technology. Donnie lives with his wife and 2 children in Colorado Springs, CO.
Eternitek: Advancing Christian Ministries Through Technology