A slow computer is generally like that because it is lacking resources, be it hard drive space, memory or processing power. There are general things you can do to alleviate these problems, and there are also specific things that can be done for different versions of Windows,none of which require money or extra hardware, just time and a little reading.
There will also be links to programs to download. These links can be found at the bottom of the guide in the Download Links section. Where there is a link, words will be highlighted in RED
- General Fixes
- XP Specific Fixes
- Vista Specific Fixes
- Win 7 Specific Fixes
- Download List
First step should always be to get rid of all of the useless stuff that you have on your system, rather than work around it, which would make the clean up process less efficient and more time consuming.
If you are running XP, go to:
Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs
If running Vista / 7
Start > Control Panel > Programs & Features
Wait for the list to load and go through each of the programs and uninstall all programs that you do not use.
DO NOT uninstall programs if you do not know what they do, first find out if they can be removed without causing problems with your system. Don't just leave them though, as can potentially just be wasting space and resources.
If you have an OEM system (One built by Dell, HP, Gateway, Acer etc) these nearly always come with useless pieces of software such as help suites or start guides. All of these can go, they are never required for the system to run and just waste space.
If you have not used a program for more than 2 months, you do not need it. If you may need it in future, back it up with all saved files and uninstall it, you can always install later, but until then, it is just slowing you down.
If you are running a firewall/antivirus program that you have to pay for, such as Norton, Panda, McAfee etc, these will generally be bloated with features you don't need and fancy interfaces which will be slowing your system down. Uninstall them and replace them with either Avast! or Avira. For higher spec computers, this isn't totally necessary, as there should be enough spare resources for the difference in speed to be negligible. For older or slower systems however, it is recommended to replace the security software with the lighter freeware, because the performance difference will be much greater
2. Go through all of your files/folders, ordering and tidying them up. By ordering them, you will find files that are outdated and no longer needed and can be removed, as well as making your file system much more efficient, so it takes you less time to find what you need. The computer doesn't have to be slow for tasks to take a long time to do, it can be thanks to your inefficiency that things take longer than they need to.
3. Download, install and run Ccleaner
. It is a program which gets rid of all cookies, temporary files, just the junk that you don't see.
4. Download and install Defraggler
. The ]defragmentation software that comes with Windows isn't very good. There are paid suites that can do the job much better than free ones (If you are willing to spend money, I recommend O&O defrag), however the free ones are much better than the Windows ones.
Run Defraggler 3 times in a row. The first time it tidies it up and gets rid of most fragmented files, the second it condenses most of the files, freeing up extra hard drive space, the third time it does a final "polish" of your system
5. Download and install Soluto
. It is a program which finds out what programs load at during your boot sequence and determines which can be stopped from loading. This will reduce the boot times, as well as using less system memory as your computer loads.
XP Specific Fixes
1. Disable Indexing Services.
The search feature of Windows XP, which is used by very few people, is sped up by the Indexing Services. It is a small program, but it uses a lot of system memory. Even if you do use the search feature a lot, it is still uneccessary to have it enabled. To disable it:
Go to Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs
On the left, click Add/Remove Windows components
Uncheck Indexing Servies and click next
It is now disabled.
2. Remove Display Extras
If you do not mind having a less fancy looking system, removing display "extras" can save a lot of resources
Right click My Computer
Click the Advanced Tab
Click performance tab and then click settings
Untick everything except for:
Show shadows under menus
Show shadows under mouse pointer
Show translucent selection rectangle
Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
Use visual styles on windows and buttons
3. Disable Network Files/Printers
Whenever you open My Computer, or any other Explorer Window (for example, My Documents) it searches for network files and network printers automatically, which can cause a sometimes substantial delay. To remove this:
Open My Computer
Click the Tools menu, then Folder Options
Click the View tab
Uncheck the Automatically search for network folders and printers check box
Restart your computer.
They are now disabled
4. Optimizing your page file.
Every system uses a technique called paging to save on memory space. This where it will dump certain data that hasn't been used for a long time from memory to a reserved space in your hard drive. As more data is put there, the page file in your hard drive must be resized, which uses processing power that could, and should, be used for other things. To alleviate this issue, you can make the size of the page file fixed. To do so:
Right click My Computer and click Properties
Click the Advanced Tab
Click the settings button under performance
Click the Advanced Tab
Under Virtual Memory, click change
Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the initial Size of the file the same as the Maximum Size of the file.
If you have 512MB of memory or less, make the maxiumum size 150% of the amount of system memory. So, for instance, if you have 512MB system memory, you would make the page file 768MB
If you have greater than 512MB system memory, make the page file 100% of the system memory. So for instance, if you have 1GB (1024MB) system memory, make the page file 1024MB
The next 2 are optional, but if your system is comparable to a snail, they are essential
5. Remove your desktop background picture.
It will make the desktop a little more boring, but will free up a chunk of memory.
6. Remove Fonts.
Fonts use up a fair amount of hard drive space and resources. You can remove them all but the ones which applications need and the ones which you use regularly to free up these resources.
Go to Start > Control Panel > Fonts
Move the fonts you don't need to a temporary folder and back them up in case you need them in future
Uninstall the ones you don't need
Vista Specific Fixes
1. Disable User Account Control (UAC)
This is easily the most annoying and pointless feature ever implemented into any piece of software. It asks you if you are sure you want to do something, every times you try to do something. It not only makes things a heck of a lot less anoying, it cuts down on the time it takes to click yes I am sure, and the time it takes for the screen to fade and the UAC Window to come up.
Click your profile picture (top right of the start menu)
Click change user account control settings.
Set it to disabled
2. Disable Windows Aero.
Aero uses a lot of system resources, especially memory and graphical processing performance. Windows Aero makes windows appear translucent and adds some fancy curved edges. To disable it:
Right click your desktop and click Personalize
Click Windows Colour and Appearance
Click Open classic appearance properties for more color options
Change colour scheme from Windows Aero, to Windows Vista Basic
Disable Search Indexing.
Like XP, search indexing just speeds up searching. The search feature on Vista is much, much better and more useful, but also uses a large chunk of resources like it did on XP. It may be better to ween out searches you don't need, such as your documents, music, videos etc that you know how to navigate around, and keep the rest. If you never search, then just remove everything. To do so:
Go to Computer
Right click your C:\ drive and click properties
On the general tab, uncheck Index this drive for faster searching
Select Include Sub folders and files
4. Disable the Windows Sidebar.
If you use the sidebar, disable it anyway, just stay with me for a sec and see why. To disable it:
Look at the bottom right of your toolbar, where the clock is. The Sidebar icon will be there (you may have to extend the icons by clicking the arrow)
Right click it and click properties
Uncheck the box "start sidebar when windows starts"
Right click the icon again and click close
If you want a sidebar, install either Google's or Yahoo's instead, they have the same features, but use much less resources
The final ones requires a USB stick, but gives excellent performance gain:
5. Enable ReadyBoost.
If you have a spare memory stick, you can use it as extra memory, which can give a fairly substantial performance gain. To do so:
Plug in your USB memory stick
When autoplay comes up, select the drive for ReadyBoost
If you have already disabled it for ready boost,
Go to Start > Computer
Right click your memory stick
Click enable this drive for ReadyBoost
The way to get best performance is to have a USB drive equal to or greater than the amount of system memory. So, if you have 1GB RAM, a 1GB memory stick or greater is the best option.
Win 7 Specific Fixes
1. Increase Boot Cores.
This only applies to systems with multi-core processors (dual core, quad core etc) but is easily one of the best features for improving boot times..
Open up run. To do so hold down your start key + R on your keyboard, or go to start > all programs > accessories > run
type in "msconfig" without ""
Click the Boot tab
Click the Advances Options button
Check the number of processors box
Click the drop down menu blow and set it to the highest number.
2. Disable Search Indexing.
Type in "services.msc" without ""
Find and right click Windows Search
In the startup type field choose disabled.
3. Disable system sounds.
Self explanatory, but most system sounds aren't needed or wanted by most users, but use up system resources.
Open the start menu and type in "mmsys.cpl" without ""
Click Sounds tab
In the sounds scheme drop down box, choose no sounds
4. Disable Windows Aero
Like on Vista, Aero uses a lot of resources that can be otherwise freed up. To disable Aero:
Right click your desktop and click Personalise
Click the Windows Colour tab
Uncheck Enable Transparency
Click Open classic appearance properties for more color options
Choose either Standard or basic from the popup box
5. Disable Windows Services
A lot of services are a complete waste of resources, hogging system memory and processing time when they don't need to. Not all can, or should, be disabled, however, the services can be optimized to give decent improvements to system speed. To sort out your services:
Right click your clock in the bottom right and click Task Manager
Click the services tab
Using this table: Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Service Configurations by Black Viper
Follow the Safe column to get the best performance without affecting your system.
6. Disable Boot GUI
The Windows logo at bootup doesn't affect system performance once the system is actually booted, but can save a good few seconds on the boot time.
To do so, press your Windows key + R at the same time to open up run. Type in msconfig.
Click the boot tab
Check the "No GUI Boot" box
Click apply, then Ok and restart
The following are more advanced, optional extras. They will improve performance, however for the average user, I would put a warning out that doing this incorrectly can cause issues to arise with the system. If you follow the guide exactly, your system will improve, but any problems caused are the users fault, not mine, the guide is given as advice only.
7. Faster Toolbar Thumbnails
To make the thumbnails that appear when you hover over programs appear quicker:
Press the start key + R at the same time to open run
Type in regedit
Right click Advanced and click New DWORD
Enter the following value: ThumbnailLivePreviewHoverTime
Right click ThumbnailLivePreviewHoverTime
Choose Decimal Base
Enter the new number in milliseconds. For instance, 500 would be 500 milliseconds, or 0.5 seconds
Experiment and find a time that you like
Restart your computer
8. Reduce shut down time
Reduce the Windows shut down times by reducing the time it takes for Windows to shut down programs that are still open:
Press the start key + R at the same time to open up Run
type in regedit
Right click WaitToKillServiceTimeOut and click modify
Change the value to a lower value in milliseconds. By default it is at 12000, 12 seconds.
Note: All programs listed are 100% free of charge with out any fees.
Avast! Anti-virus: Avast Free Antivirus - Reviews and free Avast Free Antivirus downloads at Download.com
Avira Anti-Virus: Avira AntiVir Personal - Download
Ccleaner: CCleaner - Standard
Defraggler: Defraggler - Standard