5 Tips to Speed Up Your PC

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We’ve all experienced it. That PC you know should be zipping along but isn’t. You add more memory, but it’s still barely chugging. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to troubleshoot those ailing machines. Here are five steps you can take to help your machines run much faster.

1: Defragment
This one should go without saying. However, I am always surprised at how few people regularly do this — or how many IT admins neglect to set up machines to do this regularly. Regardless of which Windows desktop OS you use, make sure you either manually defragment or set the machine up to automatically defragment. When machines get too fragmented, they suffer serious performance degradation. Usually, the built-in Windows defrag tool works fine.

2: Clean up the disk
Have you ever filled up a disk to 100%? If that disk contains both your OS and your data files, your machine is going to come to a screeching halt. One of the first things I check on a machine that’s running slowly is how much of the hard disk has been used. If there isn’t roughly 10% of the hard disk free, it’s time to clean house.  The obvious locations to start are the Recycle Bin, Pictures, Music, Videos. Once you have cleared those out, you can remove old Restore Points and Shadow copies (from System Restore) and installed programs from your Downloads directory. If that doesn’t clear up enough space, it’s time to start removing unused applications.

3: Clean up the registry
I’ve seen plenty of machines get bogged down simply because of errors in the registry. Of course, the registry isn’t something just any old user (or administrator) should attack. Instead, you want to use an application whose purpose is to clean up the registry. One of my favorite tools for that task is, again, CCleaner. When you run CCleaner, make sure you back up your registry (it will prompt you to do this). Then, run it a few times. The first time through, it won’t catch all the errors. It usually takes about three times before all errors are removed. Once you’ve removed those errors, you might want to reboot to ensure the process is complete (and the machine is back to speed). Since the registry runs the show, it is best to consult an IT professional before tackling this one on your own.

4: Remove spyware/malware
This one always shocks me. If you are using a Windows operating system you BETTER have anti-malware on board or your machine is sure to get bogged down in the muck and mire of spyware. We recommend Symantec Endpoint Protection.  Beware of free “Anti-Virus” or malware removal software.  As is usually true in life, you get what you pay for!

5: Check the disk for errors
With a machine that’s aging or whose hard drive has seen excessive use, sectors on that drive can wind up bad.  As with the registry, this is one that is best left up to professionals.  Contact your IT consultant for help fixing disk errors.

by Jack Wallen, July 26th, 2010

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