100 Windows Speed-Up Tips (Part 1) - Clean up your hard drive & Defrag your computer

4/27/2012 9:23:12 AM

If your PC is getting slow, or you’re spending too long doing easy tasks, then there are plenty of ways to speed it up. We run through 100 easy ways to save time and make your PC run faster.

Trim your start-up

One of the biggest causes of your PC slowing down over time is too many programs competing to start when your machine boots up. Annoyingly for PC users, every turn is plagued by people peddling their wares, regardless of the impact on your user experience, from manufactures pre-loading trialware and bloated software to legitimate software should open as soon as your computer starts. The result is chaos and can slow your PC to a crawl but, fornunately, it’s easy to trim things back.

In Windows 7 you can use Windows Defender to help stay on top of programs. Just go to the ‘Start’ menu, type msconfig, and open the console. At the top you’ll see a tab called ‘Startup’. Click on it and you’ll see lists all of the programs that are scheduled to start when Windows does.

A lot of these are services for your laptop, and a clear start-up doesn’t always mean smoother running. For example, many laptops will have the HD Audio software start up automatically, which is pretty essential. However, as you scroll down the list, you’ll start to see regular offenders.

If you’ve been plagued by a slow boot, you’ll know which programs are the most bloated, so uncheck these before pressing ‘Apply’. If you don’t recognise the program, or its location doesn’t show it to be in the Program Files, we recommend that you just ignore it altogether.

Clean up your hard drive

Over time your PC will become clogged up with unwanted files, and this will cause it to get slower. Just like a racing car that’s full of unwanted junk, stripping out the junk will make a huge difference.

The first thing you can do is to go to Start > Accessories > System Tools and go to Disk Cleanup. This checks your PC for unwanted temporary files, which are left behind after programs are installed, as well as your Recycle Bin and other common clutter offenders. It will give an estimate of how much waste you can lose. Just click ‘OK’ to perform the clean-up.

If your PC is really full, then you might need something a little stronger to declutter your system, so we’ve included an industrial strength program on the cover disc. CCleaner is the Cillit Bang of Windows machines and goes a lot deeper than the system tools. Install the program and enable the option to smartly detect cookies to keep. When the program opens, click the ‘Analyse’ button to see how much clutter is present – you might be in for a surprise.

Description: CCleaner is the Cillit Bang of Windows machines and goes a lot deeper than the system tools

CCleaner is the Cillit Bang of Windows machines and goes a lot deeper than the system tools

When you’re ready, just click ‘Run Cleaner’ and watch as CCleaner trims the fat from your computer, leaving it leaner and faster. Run the program every month and you will be less susceptible to your PC slowing in future.

There are other programs that can declutter your system. We’ve listed five great programs on page 30, which are free to download and can make a real difference to the speed of your PC.

Defrag your computer

Some ways of speeding up your PC are as old as the hills, and defragging has been a part of Windows for as long as we can remember. The premise is that your spinning hard disc records information in sectors and, over time, these sectors get scattered about, meaning it takes longer to retrieve your information.

Defragging – or defragmenting – takes these fragments of data and puts them in a nice order, so your hard drive doesn’t have to work so hard to find that photo of Auntie Joan drunk at Christmas, which could be stored in a thousand different areas on your disc.

Windows has its own defragger, which you can access by going to Start > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmentor. Choose your drive (it’s usually C:) and let Windows run its magic.

Description: Choose your drive (it’s usually C:) and let Windows run its magic.

Choose your drive (it’s usually C:) and let Windows run its magic.

It takes a long time a run a defragger due to the nature of reordering thousands of sectors, and it’s best to do it overnight, or your PC can be slow and unresponsive to use.

Declutter: Use CCleaner to rid your PC of junk.

Defrag: Get your drive back into order by defragging it.

  •  100 Windows Speed-Up Tips (Part 3)
  •  100 Windows Speed-Up Tips (Part 2) : Streamline your PC, Set up SMART
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