If your computer’s sloth-like performance is driving you to distraction, it’s time to take action. Use these simple tips to speed up your slow PC and boost its speed.
Over time, your PC may get bogged down with unwanted and files that can slow its performance to a crawl. If you want to get a faster PC, there’s no need to splash out on a new PC or laptop. Our tips will help revitalise your Windows 7 computer for a smoother, faster performance.
TIP 1 Check for PC viruses
A major PC slow-down can be the result of a virus infection. Ensure you have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on your computer and run a full scan of your hard disk regularly. Use Windows 7’s built-in anti-spyware program Windows Defender to detect and remove spyware. To launch Windows Defender, click Start then type defender into the Search box. From the results, click Windows Defender. Click Scan now to check your PC for spyware.
TIP 2 Delete unused programs
Over time, your PC may get clogged up with lots of programs that you no longer use. Give your PC a speed boost by ditching unwanted software. In Windows 7, click Start > Control Panel > Uninstall a program. From the list of programs that appears, click the program you want to uninstall, and then click Uninstall.
TIP 3 Limit start up programs
If Windows takes ages to start up, it may be struggling with the sheer number of programs that are set to launch when you turn on the computer. Many programs automatically begin to run in the background when Windows launches. To slash Windows’ start up to a more acceptable few seconds, disable this option for programs that you don’t immediately need.
Click Start, and type msconfig in the search bar and press Enter. In the System Configuration window, click the Startup tab. From the list of programs, untick the box next to those you don’t use regularly or know that you don’t need at start up. Click Apply and then click OK. Now restart your computer.
Use Window 7’s Disk Cleanup tool to remove temporary files and unnecessary system files that are clogging up your computer hard drive and slowing down its performance. Click Start and in the search box, type disk cleanup. From the list of results that appears, click Disk Cleanup.
In the list of Drives, click the hard disk drive that you want to clean – typically the C: drive. Click OK. In the Disk Cleanup box, select the type of files that you want to delete and then click OK and then click Delete files.
TIP 5 Use a free tune-up tool
When you’ve used your PC for some time, it’s likely that corrupted settings, broken files and unwanted clutter will put the brakes on your computer’s speed. Sorting out this mess can be tricky but a free tune-up tool, such as CCleaner, will do the hard work for you. Once CCleaner is installed, click Start, then click All Programs and click the CCleaner folder. In the folder, click the CCleaner application to launch it. In the CCleaner window, click Analyze to scan your system. When complete, you’ll be presented with a long list of files that are no longer being used – all of which will be selected. Click Run Cleaner to clean out these files, free up hard drive space back, and boost the speed of your PC.
Windows 7’s graphical effects look pretty but you’ll enjoy a faster PC if you turn them off. Click Start > Control Panel and in the search box, type Performance Information and Tools. From the list of results, click Performance Information and Tools. Click Adjust visual effects on the left of the window. In the dialog box that opens, click the Visual Effects tab, and then click Adjust for best performance to deselect all options. Alternatively, click Custom and choose the effects you want to keep from the list.
TIP 7 Tidy your PC’s desktop
Give your PC a speed bump by cleaning up your desktop. It’s all too easy to save and store files higgledy-piggledy on your desktop but as Windows has to keep refreshing these icons, too much clutters creates a slight slowdown. Store files in fewer folders and delete unused desktop shortcuts so there less work for Windows to do.
TIP 8 Empty the Recycle Bin
When you delete a file it goes into your Recycle Bin, which acts as a safety net to avoid files being permanently deleted by accident and allows you can restore files from here. However, as files in Recycle Bin still use hard disk space, empty it regularly. First check that the bin hasn’t any files that you want to keep. Then double click the icon on your desktop and from the menu that appears click Empty Recycle Bin. A warning box will appear. Click Yes to permanently delete files.
TIP 9 Defragment your hard disk
Your PC stores data by fragmenting it – breaking it up into smaller parts – across different locations on your hard drive but over time this results in a slower PC as it has to work harder retrieving and reassembling the date. Use Windows 7’ Disk Defragmenter to reorganise data on your hard drive, so your computer works faster. Click Start and type defragmenter in the search box. Click Disk Defragmenter from the results. Highlight the drive you want to defragment from the list (usually the C: drive), then click Defragment disk. It may take several hours to defragment your hard disk, depending on the size of the hard drive, the number and type of files stored there, but you can use the computer in the meantime.
When you visit a webpage, your web browser stores or ‘caches’ the information it contains so that when you revisit the page, it loads faster. However, after a while these cached files can pile up, using precious hard disk space. Some also may become out of date or corrupted that can cause web browsing to grind to a crawl. You can speed up your web browsing by clearing out your browser cache.
In Internet Explorer, click Tools > Safety > Delete browsing history….. Tick the checkbox next to Temporary Internet files and click Delete.
TIP 11 Add extra memory
Adding extra memory (RAM) will significantly boost your PC’s performance. Typically the more you add, the faster your computer can work, particularly when running more than one program at once. RAM comes in strips known as modules that fit into slots inside your PC. RAM modules come in different capacities and speeds, so you’ll need to know which type is suitable for your PC and how much memory you can add.
There are lots of websites that can help you find this information. Crucial.com, for example, has a handy online tool that scans your computer, then tells you the type and amount of RAM that you can add.
If you don’t want the expense and hassle of adding memory to your computer motherboard, you can get a quick speed boost by using Windows ReadyBoost and a USB flash drive. The drive must be larger than 256MB and conform to Windows data read/write speed requirements. Plug in the drive and select the Speed up my system option from the AutoRun menu. Windows check the drive and, if it’s suitable, presents the ReadyBoost dialog box. Tick the checkbox next to Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost or select Use this device and adjust the slider to select how much free space you want to assign to ReadyBoost. The remaining space can be used for storage as normal. Click OK to finish.
TIP 13 Offload files to an external hard drive
Your computer’s hard drive needs enough redundant space in order to work efficiently. If it’s more than 85 per cent full, you’ll see a noticeable decrease in computer speed. A quick and easy solution to an overflowing hard drive is to offload some of your files onto an external hard drive.
Consider migrating files such as your photos, music and video clips onto an external hard drive. External hard drives are cheap and easy to use: simply plug the drive into your computer’s USB port and it will appear in Windows Explorer as a new drive. You can then drag and drop files or folders onto the external drive to copy them, and then delete the originals from your computer hard disk. When you want to access the files again, simply plug the external drive back into your computer.
TIP 14 Install a solid-state drive
A guaranteed way to boost your computer’s speed is to swap its existing internal hard drive for a solid-state drive (SSD). Unlike traditional hard drives, solid-state drives have no moving parts, so you’ll enjoy a much snappier computer performance. On the downside, SSDs are more expensive than traditional hard drives and offer smaller storage capacities, so you may need to archive some of your files an external hard drive.
TIP 15 Restart your computer
For a quick fix to a sudden slow down, try restarting your computer. This clears out your PC’s memory and closes all open programs, including those that are running in the background.