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Improving the performance of your PC without spending a penny
One of the most common things I hear as an onsite IT Support engineer is complaints of slow and non-responsive PCs. They didn’t always behave like this, in fact, at one stage, they we’re pretty quick. So why has it all gone downhill? More importantly, how can you rectify this problem and get them back up to tip top condition? If this sounds familiar, let me put a few words of wisdom your way.
What is causing the slowdown?
Passing the blame is something Pyranet IT Support never does, however, in this case it’s the only way to explain one reason your computer is running slower since you started using it. When you bought your PC (maybe 2 or 3 years ago) the version of Windows you we’re using was the most up to date version you could get. I’m sure you’ve heard of Microsoft updates (and maybe had problems with it in the past); this works in the background and keeps your computer up to date. Windows XP was released in October 2001, since then it has received no less than 1456 updates as of August 2010, all of which are causing your computer to run slightly slower. DO NOTstop installing these updates as they are keeping your computer protected from all kinds of problems. However this is one reason your computer is slowing down.
Everything but the kitchen sink!
Computers are like your elderly neighbour, they store pretty much everything, whether it’s needed or not. As you use your computer for day to day things such as browsing the internet, installing the next big game or reading emails, the computer remembers you doing it. This will begin to fill up the memory and cause your computer to run slower. Getting rid of this junk regularly is the first step to improving the performance of your PC. There are many applications out there that will offer this service, but I’m yet to find one that works better than CCleaner by Piriform. It’s very simple and effective to use, and better still it’s completely free. To get hold of a copy, head over to where you will find it constantly perched at the top of the ‘Popular Software’ chart. It also has many other uses, which you will find out shortly.
“I guess I’ll make a cup of tea then”
A morning ritual is vital for me as I’m as far from a morning person as you can get. If your morning involves waiting for a computer, this next tip will be invaluable for you. When you install a program, it will almost always instruct the computer to run it when the computer starts. This is great for things that need to be working when the machine starts such as anti-virus software but most programs don’t require this privilege. The more things that need to be started, the longer it will take and the longer you will have to wait. CCleaner also has a nifty built in tool to allow you to stop certain programs from starting. Just click on Tools and then Startup and a list of programs will appear on the right. Click on a program you want to stop and then click disable, as simple as that! If you’re not sure about certain programs, you are best to leave them as they may be pretty important and never click delete. If you just disable, you can always enable them if you later realise your computer was pretty reliant on that program.
VIRUS – You scared yet? Don’t be!
Viruses and spyware have become a massive issue on computers and can cause a massive drop in performance. Sometimes, the only thing that makes you think the computer might be infected is the fact it is running so slowly. There are plenty of ways to check for viruses and spyware but most of them will charge you a pretty penny for the privilege. As the post suggests, I don’t like spending money so here’s a link to my blog post on free anti-malware products.
Where did I put that thing-a-me bob?
Organisation is the key to keeping things simple, or so they tell me. I have no idea what it feels like to be completely organised, but at least I can keep my computers registry sorted out. Ccleaner has a function to clean up the registry and remove any registry entries that aren’t required. As with all of these tips, I would advise using this with caution as it can cause some unusual side effects and always save a copy of the registry before making changes (ccleaner gives you this option automatically).
Load up ccleaner and click the registry tab on the left. Click scan for issues and wait for the scan to finish (normally takes less than a minute). Don’t be worried by the mass of errors it finds, most of these relate to the same 2 or 3 entries causing the issues. Have a quick scan through the errors and make sure there is nothing unusual. If you are not comfortable with this, skip this tip completely. When you’re happy, click fix selected issues…. You will now be asked if you want to save a copy of the registry, obviously if you’re paying attention, you know what to say here. Find a suitable location to save it to (my documents is fine). Once this is done, click Fix all selected issues. Repeat these steps until there are no errors found and you now have a clean registry! I would suggest doing this once a month to be on the safe side.
Sort your bits out (megabits that is)
Another thing to consider when “Organising your computer” is the defragmentation tool. Every version of windows has one installed and helps to keep your hard drive organised. It can take an absolute age to complete, but normally worth the wait.
The tool you need is stored in the start menu, then Accessories, then click on System tools, and then finally, Disk Defragmenter. I would advise starting the scan and leaving it overnight. Depending on how much data you have and how fragmented your hard drive is, this could take several hours.
Not free, but still worth a thought
Sometimes, there’s no getting out of spending some of your hard earned cash. As painful as this is, you want to make sure you’re getting the best value for money. The cheapest, easiest to fit and most effective upgrade you can do to speed up your computer is adding or changing the RAM. This acts very much like an extra arm and allows your computer to multitask better. For a better idea of what kind of RAM you will need, head over to the Crucial Memory Scanner and run the small piece of software. This will give you the type of memory you need, a price for the memory and even a link to buy it. If you’re not comfortable with fitting the extra RAM, we can help with that.
You lost me at Improving
If this all seems a little too technical or time consuming, let the experts take it off your hands. We can offer a full system clean to guarantee a cleaner, quicker computer. For more information, visit the contact us page.
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