Speed Up My PC
Speed Up My PC – Introduction
Help me speed up my PC you cry!
Remember how super fast and responsive your PC used to be?
A quick click of your mouse and up popped your browser or application or whatever.
But now things are a little different aren’t they?
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Does your PC seem more than a little sluggish to you as you sit there drumming your fingers on the desk waiting for your slow computer to finally start up?
Well, unfortunately over time all PCs and laptops will slow down purely due to you using them!
But I’m supposed to be able to use it you say! Of course you are but you see as we use them and install new applications and programs and download various files etc your poor old PC becomes more than a little bloated and struggles to keep up with finding fragmented files strewn across your hard drive and running various background applications which probably aren’t even needed and, to be blunt, you can’t even remember installing!
Yes it’s a slow steady decline and it happens to us all whether you’re using a desktop PC or laptop and the time may well have arrived to take the bull by the horns and do something about it.
But what exactly do I do about it you may ask?
Where can I find out how to speed up my PC?
Don’t worry we’re going to help you get your PC running super fast once again.
Now, it may well be that time has moved on and your PC simply just isn’t up to running all the latest and greatest applications and operating systems – maybe what you really need is to upgrade your processor, motherboard, memory and graphics card.
Only you can decide if this is the case – perhaps take a look at our PC Buying Guide section to compare our recommended specs against your own PCs specification and decide if perhaps you need to purchase or build a new computer.
Ok, well assuming you are quite happy with your PC just as it is but want to speed up your PC and get it back running smoothly again we’ll look at a number of tasks you can carry out simply yourself to save a bundle on buying a new PC or getting a ‘geek’ in to look at your PC for you.
Once you get to grips with the following tips and techniques make sure that you follow them on a regular basis to keep your PC in ‘tip top’ condition.
Speed Up My PC – Hard Drive Clearout
Firstly we need to get rid of any unwanted programs and free up some hard disk drive space.
A lot of the programs you have added in the past will be configured to run when Windows starts up – over time you will have noticed that your PC takes longer and longer to boot up, it’s all down to the bloatware that you’ve added!
Lots of people nowadays have massive hard disk drives and the natural assumption is that it doesn’t matter that you’ve downloaded and added a multitude of applications and add-ons – hey, there’s plenty of room on my hard drive, I don’t need to worry about it, might come in useful at some point!
Ok, time to get a little ruthless and cut out all the unwanted and frankly useless rubbish that is bloating your hard drive and slowing it down.
Don’t think, ‘but I might need this’, do think 'I need to speed up my PC and it'll help if I get rid of some of the clutter on my hard drive!'
If you don’t generally use it – you can always download it again if you find that you need it in the future.
Speed Up My PC – Backup and System Restore!
Before you do anything to your PCs files and programs you – and I can’t stress this enough – MUST make sure that you have a backup of all of your important data and files etc.
Don’t risk loosing your data – you will not be able to get it back!
You have been warned!
The next most important thing you must do before proceeding is to create a ‘System Restore’ point.
You might easily delete a file of folder by accident which could cause your system to stop functioning, become unstable or in some cases unbootable!
Back up your data and create a ‘System Restore’ point and you will be able to return your PC to its former working state should things go wrong – omit this stage and you very well may not!
Not sure what or how to backup? Read our Data Backup page for guidelines on this.
‘System Restore’ can be found under ‘Start’ > ‘All Programs’ > ‘Accessories’ > ‘System Tools’.
You will need to ‘Create a restore point’, click on ‘Next’ and give the restore point a meaningful name such as ‘Before de-bloat’ and then click on ‘Create’.
If your PC won’t boot up at any point during your cleanup simply press ‘F8’ on your keyboard while attempting to boot up and go into the ‘Windows Advanced Options’ menu.
One option will be ‘Last known Good Configuration’ – select this to activate your restore point.
Ok, that done with on to removing that clutter from our hard drive.
Speed Up My PC – Add or Remove Programs
Go to ‘Add or Remove Programs’ in ‘Control Panel’ and go through the list of programs individually deleting all the ones you don’t require any more or don’t use on a regular basis.
Windows own ‘Add or Remove Programs’ will do a fine job of removing most programs but occasionally you will come across a stubborn program that just will not be removed!
This is annoying to say the least – not to worry though; we can now use the Windows ‘regedit’ registry editor program to remove these stubborn files manually.
Speed Up My PC - Registry Editor
Now we must stress here that editing the Windows registry is not for those who are unsure of what they are doing – one false move and you may well get yourself into trouble so if you are at all unsure leave the registry well alone!
Once again, make sure that you have backed up all of your important data and created a ‘System Restore Point’ before going any further with this!
Click on ‘Start’ > ‘Run’ and type ‘regedit’ in the text box that appears, you will be presented with the Registry Editor.
Browse down to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Uninstall.
You should see all the items contained in the ‘Add or Remove Programs’ list here – each will have its own key.
Look down through the Keys to identify the one containing the program you are trying to remove.
You may need to view the contents of each Key one by one until you find the program that you are trying to remove – once done, right click the entry and choose ‘Delete’.
Now you can go back to ‘Add or Remove Programs’ and you will see that the program you wanted to delete is no longer listed – Success!
Speed Up My PC – Manual Cleanup
When you have finished deleting all of your unwanted programs, whether via ‘Add or Remove Programs’ or with the addition of regedit you should now check your ‘Program Files’ directory for files and folders that have been left behind which relate to the programs you have just deleted.
You will need to delete these manually – go to the ‘Program Files’ directory in your C\: Drive. Only delete files and folders relating to those programs that you have just removed via Windows ‘Add or Remove Programs’.
Speed Up My PC – Disk Cleanup
Now your next task is to delete any temporary files and other unwanted clutter on your hard drive.
You can do this easily by using Windows ‘Disk Cleanup’ utility which can be easily accessed by right clicking on your hard drive icon in ‘My Computer’ and selecting ‘Properties’ and looking under the ‘General’ tab.
Or, you can go to ‘Start’ > ‘All Programs’ > ‘Accessories’ > ‘System Tools’. Here you will find the ‘Disk Cleanup’ program. Specify the drive that you want to ‘Cleanup’ – usually your C:\Drive.
Run ‘Disk Cleanup’ and it will – after a short delay whilst it analyses your hard drive – list options detailing how much space can be reclaimed by activating them.
You should also delete any temporary files to save more disk space that way.
There is an option in the ‘Disk Cleanup’ listing to ‘Compress old files’ – this allows you to archive old files that you don’t use regularly and give you some disk space by compressing them.
You can set an age limit for files that will be compressed – i.e. haven’t been used for more than a certain period of time so list for compression.
Speed Up My PC – System Restore
Another often overlooked area for ‘Disk Cleanup’ is ‘System Restore’.
Under the ‘More Options’ tab within ‘Disk Cleanup’ you will find further options for cleaning up your hard disk drive.
There are options to remove some of the Windows operating system components that you may not require – you can find this under ‘Windows Components’ but be careful that you do not remove a component that may be required to run your configuration correctly.
‘System Restore’ clean up will remove all but the most recent restore point from your hard drive.
If you do this then after it finishes make sure that you go to ‘System Restore’ and configure its settings for future restore points.
Check that only the drive containing your operating system is highlighted and adjust the amount of disk space set aside for restore points to your requirements.
Speed Up My PC – Disk Defragmenter
Now, we have cleared our hard drive of an enormous amount of clutter there should be a lot more hard disk space available but your files and data may now be spread randomly across your hard drive.
This is called a fragmented disk drive and will slow down your PC due to the delays caused in searching back and forth across your hard drive for the required fragmented chunks of data.
You need to place all the related chunks of data for a particular file close to one another on your drive and to do this Windows has its own ‘Disk Defragmenter’ program which can be found by going to ‘Start’>’All Programs’>’Accessories’>’System Tools’ and then you will see ‘Disk Defragmenter’.
Check the drives you wish to defragment and then click on the ‘Analyze’ button. Windows will now check the drive and report back as to whether or not your hard drive requires defragmenting.
If ‘Disk Defragmenter’ indicates that defragmentation is required click on the ‘Defragment’ button and away it goes. Bare in mind though – this isn’t a quick job and could take several hours!
Speed Up My PC - Check Disk
Once complete it is advisable to also check the integrity of your hard drive. Hard drives can develop bad sectors which will slow down your PC and Windows ‘ Check Disk’ which can be found in ‘Start’ > ’My Computer’ and then right-click on the hard disk you want to check and then click ‘Properties’ and click on the ‘Tools’ tab. Click ‘Check Now’. You will see a check disk dialog box and you should select ‘Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors’ check box and then click ‘Start’.
If Windows finds any bad sectors you will have the option to fix them.
Speed Up My PC – Clean up your desktop
Are you one of those people who like to drop shortcuts, files, PDF’s etc on your desktop for easy finding or so that you don’t forget them?
Yes it’s handy to add a few helpful shortcuts on your desktop to say a number of frequently used programs etc, but not covered in them!
This too slows down your computer start up time.
Clean up your desktop now – to make it easy change to a folder view where you can list the desktop files, shortcuts and folders etc clearly for easy sorting.
Open up ‘My Computer’ on ‘Windows Explorer’ and go to C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Desktop
You can run the desktop Cleaning Wizard by right clicking on the desktop, selecting 'Arrange Icons By' and then selecting 'Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard' and clicking on 'Next' in the Window that appears. Check the boxes alongside the items you wish to remove.
Speed Up My PC – Startup Programs
Another cause for long drawn out boot up times is to do with the number of programs that are set to run automatically at start up.
A lot of these programs do not need to run at start up and can cause you to suffer long boot times with no real benefit to you.
Use Windows ‘msconfig’ to configure which programs you want to run at start up and prevent those that you do not, thereby shortening the boot time - especially if you have a great long list of items!
Click ‘Start’>’Run’ and in the command line type ‘msconfig’ and hit ‘Return’.
Select the ‘Startup’ tab and examine the list presented to you. Uncheck the tick box for the items that you do not want to run at Start up. Make sure you leave any security type programs – i.e AVG, Norton, McAfee etc.
If you are not sure about some of them do a ‘Google’ search to find out if they can be safely disabled from your ‘Startup’ list.
Your Start up list may well contain Malware and Spyware entries and disabling these will help greatly in speeding up your boot up time.
For more information on dubious ‘mfconfig’ entries visit www.sysinfo.org/startuplist.php where you will find information detailing with known threats that you can disable within msconfig.
Speed Up My PC – Spyware
Here is another culprit for slowing down your pc – Spyware!
Seriously, this stuff is bad news and has become a real problem for us all now.
What can you do about it? Well, we are never going to completely rid ourselves of it but we can keep in under check and continuously monitor and remove it using a few free simple tools.
You’ll soon know if you are suffering from a bad case of spyware – having problem with slow online surfing? Getting lots of pop ups and toolbars added to your browser?
Perhaps you have had the offer of downloading a program that offers to fix or check for viruses and to scan your PC and you’ve clicked yes before thinking about the consequences of what you are doing?
OK, what can we do? Install some good quality tried and trusted anti-spyware programs. To cover all bases you will need a couple of programs which will scan and monitor your PC for Spyware, Keyloggers etc.
Ad-Aware from www.lavasoft.de is a great little program that you can safely download and install on your PC to scan your drives for any infection. Ad-Aware will do a full scan of your system and report back with all it finds, mostly tracking cookies and remove these for you.
You can download the free version which is fine for most people but the ‘Plus’ or ‘Pro’ version will offer you real time protection if you wish to automate the process.
Spybot Search and Destroy from www.safer-networking.com gives real time protection and you should also install this program to give you full coverage against Spyware. Spybot will also check your system files and registry for infection to give thorough coverage.
Speed Up My PC – Rootkit Virus
The Rootkit virus infects the Windows operating system and is difficult to detect with many Anti-Virus software programs.
If you think you may be infected or want to check for a possible infection you can download a free detection program from AVG at http://free.grisoft.com AVG Anti-Rootkit will scan and detect any viruses hidden on your hard drive giving you full peace of mind.
Speed Up My PC – Automated cleaning
Ccleaner - available at www.ccleaner.com is a free tool which will scan and clear out all of your temp files, browser history, registry etc and is simple to operate at the click of a few buttons - simple, effective and very popular amongst those who would like to add a little automation to the process of clearing out their PC Bloatware.
Speed Up My PC – Reinstall Windows
Finally, if your PC is still slow after you’ve been though all of the above suggestions then you should consider doing a complete reinstall of your operating system.
When anyone asks us the best way to 'help speed up my PC' this is our recommended 'best way' to ensure that your PC is running as fast as it can be.
You will need to back up all your data and settings first and it is a fairly long process, but at the end of it all you will have a PC that runs sweetly once again.
To find out how to re-install your version of Windows visit one of the following pages for detailed 'step by step' instructions complete with screenshots.
How to Install Windows XP
How to Install Windows Vista
How to Install Windows 7
We hope you have found the 'Tips and Tricks' in our 'Speed Up My PC' guide useful and your PC is one again super fast and responsive!
Hey, hang on there, there is another way!
Sure, performing a clean reinstall of Windows will sort you out no problem but it's a time consuming and tedious process, what with all of the data backup, hunting for license keys, reinstalling all of your other software programs, email etc.
Another option, and a pretty damn good one at that is to let Reimage do a free scan of your PC which will give you a report detailing all that it has found and giving you the option to go ahead and fix your PC without touching any of your data and installed programs etc and without needing your Windows license key and install disc!
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The choice is yours, long and tedious or all sorted in around one hour or less without having to call out a PC Tech to sort it for you.
Let us know how you get on if you decide to give it a go :)
For more info be sure to check out our Reimage review or screenshots of Reimage repairing one of our own PCs.
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