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Windows 7 Tips & Tricks: Boost Your System’s Performance

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12/11/2012 11:45:23 PM

Boost your system’s performance

Many of us use Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system on our home or work computers, but it’s likely we haven’t taken advantage of all of its features. This month we’ll look at ways to boost the performance of Win7. Whether you’re surfing the Internet, drafting your family’s annual holiday letter, installing a program update, or playing a game, the more you use your computer, the more likely it is that you’ll experience slowdowns or an unstable system. Following are some tips for improving your computer’s performance.

Eliminate Unnecessary Extras

Unless you customized your Win7 computer when your placed your order, it is likely that the manufacturer shipped the system with programs, games, features, or trial versions of software that you rarely use. Deleting these unnecessary items can improve your computer’s efficiency. To be effective, you need to uninstall all unwanted pro- grams via the Control Panel’s Program And Features window. Open the Start Menu, click Control Panel, select Programs, and click Programs And Features. Next, select a program and click Uninstall. To deactivate a feature, click the Turn Windows Features On Or Off option in the Programs And Features window. Deselect the checkbox next to the feature you want to turn off and click the OK button.

Description: One way to improve your user experience is to uninstall unwanted programs and system features that you rarely use

One way to improve your user experience is to uninstall unwanted programs and system features that you rarely use

Free Up Hard Drive Space

Some system slowdowns can be attributed to full or cluttered hard drives. Windows offers several utilities you can use to free up space on your hard drive so your computer can access data more quickly.

Run Disk Cleanup

This tool will remove downloaded program files, temporary Internet files, offline webpages, the Recycle Bin, temporary files, thumbnail files, and more, freeing up hard drive space and improving how your system runs. Open the Start menu, type Disk Cleanup in the Search field, and then click Disk Cleanup. Next, select the drive you want to clean and click OK. Click the Disk Cleanup tab in the resulting dialog box, select the checkboxes for the file types you want to delete, and click OK. Next, click the Delete Files button when Windows prompts.

Defrag your hard drive

Another option for boosting your system’s performance is to periodically run Disk Defragmenter. (This tip is for users who have the traditional hard drives; systems with SSD-based storage will not benefit from defragging). A hard drive stores data in fragments. Over time, these fragmented files can clutter the drive and cause the system to become sluggish because your computer must search the entire drive for all the necessary parts before it can open a file or program. Disk Defragmenter will rearrange the data fragments and organize them in a manner that is more logical so programs and files open quicker. To access Disk Defragmenter, click Start, select All Programs, click Accessories, select System Tools, and click Disk Defragmenter. Select a drive and click the Analyze Disk button to determine whether the drive needs to be defragmented. If the percentage in the Last Run column is greater than 10%, proceed with the defragging process on that drive.

ReadyBoost

This Win7 utility gives you a way to improve performance without adding physical RAM, by using a USB flash or external hard drive, SD card, or CF card. ReadyBoost lets you use the extra drive as a cache to improve disk-read performance. When you plug a compatible storage device into your computer, Windows gives you the option to speed up your PC using ReadyBoost. If you select this option, you will need to choose the amount of memory on the device to dedicate for storage; your device must have at least 1GB of available space. To manually enable or disable ReadyBoost, plug the drive into your computer, open the General tab in the Autoplay dialog box and click Speed My System. In the Properties dialog box, click the Ready- Boost tab and select the Do Not Use This Device or Use This Device radio button, depending on how you want to use the drive; then click OK. Note that the ReadyBoost feature may not be available if you have an SSD installed; some SSDs may be so fast that they won’t benefit from the technology.

Description: Need to boost system performance? Run Disk Cleanup and remove downloaded program files, temporary Internet files, offline webpages, and more

Need to boost system performance? Run Disk Cleanup and remove downloaded program files, temporary Internet files, offline webpages, and more

Check for viruses & spyware

If spyware or viruses make their way onto your system, they could cause your system to become sluggish. To prevent this, be sure to run reliable anti-malware or antivirus programs such as Microsoft’s Security Essentials.

Regular Maintenance

Another option for boosting your system’s performance is to periodically run Disk Defragmenter.

The next time you notice that a program takes longer to load, try a few of the tips we’ve detailed here for a boost in performance. You’ll want to perform some of these tasks regularly to avoid hiccups when using Win7.

Description: Disk Defragmenter reorganizes the data on your hard drive in a logical manner so your computer can retrieve the information quickly

Disk Defragmenter reorganizes the data on your hard drive in a logical manner so your computer can retrieve the information quickly

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