"My computer is really slow, do I need a new
PC Speed Up software ads abound. But let's hold on a minute
and analyze your PC.
Don't you want to do everything possible (within reason) to
salvage the computer you have? I have seen so much computer
hardware thrown in the landfill simply because the owner had no
idea there was a cure for his slow PC; and that cure is a PC
Scan Your PC. You're beating your head
against a wall if your PC is laden with Virus, Trojan
or Spyware. Make sure it's not infected. Stop over at
Memory Upgrade. [July
2008] The new goal is 2GB if your system will support
it. Memory is cheap for most systems (unless you have
RDRAM or RAMBUS)[July 2008]. If your Windows XP
computer has less than 128MB of RAM, it's going to
struggle. Maybe you thought it was fast when you bought
it, but the more you install into Windows, the slower
it will get - especially with inadequate RAM. If you
have 128MB, I suggest that you will see marked
improvement upgrading to 256 or better yet, 512.
Machines that originally did just fine with 256MB of
RAM I have been upgrading to 512 and seeing
improvement. I typically do NOT see any obvious
improvement going from 512 to 1GB. (Although you
will want 1GB or more for Windows Vista.) Learn more
memory upgrades here.
Make sure your hard drive has ample space. As
a rule of thumb, once a drive gets over about 80% full,
performance takes a hit. At 90% or more, it can be a
real dog. 70% or less is best.
If it's getting full, check out
the next 2 points.
Clean up your disk. This has a dual benefit.
Not only does it increase the percentage of free space
(see previous point), but if you have been having
applications lock up or misbehave, temporary files
can be the culprit. I have seen Office 2000
problems disappear when hundreds of lurking temporary
files are deleted.
Upgrade your hard drive. If your hard drive
is just too small for what you want to keep, or you
determine it was a slow, inexpensive hard drive to
begin with, then make sure you buy speed and not just
capacity. Many laptop hard drives and real cheap
desktops have 4200rpm hard drives, others have 5400. In
my opinion, there is no excuse for hard disk
manufacturers to even waste natural resources on a
drive slower than 7200rpm. Real fast ones are 10,000rpm
(15,000 for SCSI drives, but they are typically in
servers). And make sure there is a buffer of 8MB or
Uninstall unneeded software. Go to Start |
Control Panel | Add/Remove programs. Any application
you are sure you do not need, get rid of by
uninstalling it. Don't ever just go and delete files in
order to remove a program. This will not only free up
space on the hard disk, but it should decrease the
registry in size by a little and may take some entries
out of the startup sequence (see the next point).
Eliminate unnecessary startup software. Start
| Run | type MSConfig and click Ok. Select the startup
tab and uncheck items that are either suspicious or you
know you don't need. Typical entries that I get rid of
Adobe Speed Launch
Quickbooks - remind me, qbupdate, etc.
Be careful doing this, but at least using
MSConfig, Microsoft has provided a way to do this
somewhat safely. MSConfig lets you uncheck it, test,
then re-check an item if you find it's necessary.
Clean up the registry. A Registry Cleaner is
certainly not to be taken lightly. Some argue there is
no benefit to using registry cleaner software, but
others counter that the larger the registry, the
longer it takes to load. Only try this after a
registry backup and with software that will do it
for you. Don't go poking around the registry unless you
understand what you are doing.
Defragment you hard drive. Some will argue
against the value of this but I will simply respond
that it depends; most will see at least some
improvement if it has been a while since it was last
When all else fails
When the PC Speed Up process just
isn't doing it, there is one more thing to try - Reinstall
Windows.This isn't for the faint of heart When you
reinstall Windows you need to:
Make a complete backup. Then make ANOTHER one. And
Format the hard drive and reinstall Windows.
Reinstall all of your applications. Redo any and all
customizations. Restore you data.
Although a last resort, professional Windows users will
reinstall after a set period of time, say one to two years. To
help themselves out, however, they make detailed notes of any
significant changes along the way.
Backup again when it's all done
After you have determined that the process was at least
completed without disaster, whether it actually helped or not,
don't forget to refresh your backup. If you backup via drive
images, which I highly recommend, make a fresh, complete image
so that if you do end up restoring in the near future, you
haven't lost the effects of your work. Otherwise, a full backup
of your choice is certainly in order.
As an encouragement, the PC Speed Up process typically does
yield positive results. Windows operating systems have a way of
self-corrupting, so a pc tune up once in a while can be just
what the doctor ordered.
Even if you think your PC is running fine, cleaning up temp
files and defragging can not only keep it in great shape, you
could just be preventing tomorrows problem. Same goes for the
system scan with the anti-virus, anti-trojan and
The same steps that provide a PC Speed Up can also be a PC