Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Speed Up Your PC – Free!

When my computer was fresh-out-of-the-box, and all shiny and new, it was speedier than it is now. It had a spring in its step that seems to be lacking now. Can you relate?

There are reasons for this ’slowing down’, of course. Some of them are just ‘facts’, and there’s not much we can do about them, and others we can (should) remedy. Today I’ll list and review the basic PC steps, which will optimize your computer’s performance, and provide you with the links to my more detailed How-To’s, as well as some great free tools.

wings

image courtesy of istockphoto.com

Tip of the day: Rejuvenate your PC.
A primary cause for PCs ’slowing down’ is simply that there is more stuff (files) on your hard-drive now, and the more you put on there, the more there is for your computer to keep track of (index). You have added applications (programs), Updates, and all your files, and the volume on your hard-drive has grown– probably quite a bit!
[note: to function properly, you should always have at least 10% keep some “free space” on your drive. Say, about 4 GB’s.]

Clean off the junk. As you use your machine, and browse the Internet, you will pick up scraps of files (temps), and you will put things into the Recycle Bin, etc., and I recommend that once a week you use the Disk Cleanup Tool to “take out the trash”. My article on this tool is here.

Get organized. As you machine writes data to the hard-drive, which it is doing a lot, it places things in the first available block of space to save time. The first available space is not necessarily the best or most logical place, though, and we need to come along after and put things in better order. The tool for this is a “defragmenter”, and it should be run at least once a month. I wrote an article on how to set this tool to run automatically, here.

Make space. You may also want to make more space on your hard-drive, and do some “serious cleaning”, by going into the Add/Remove Programs area of your Control Panel and uninstalling any programs you never use anymore.

Today’s free downloads: Believe it or not, some people just prefer not to use the tools built into Windows, and insist on using specialized “3rd-party” tools to do the job (imagine that).
* A top-rated (free) cleanup tool is CCleaner.
* A top-rated (free) disk defragmentation tool is the Auslogics Disk Defrag.
* A top-rated (free) program Uninstaller is Revo.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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February 20, 2009 - Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, performance, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 Comments »

  1. For those interested, Here is Microsoft’s recommendations for speeding up a PC. For the most part its the same as your list, but there’s a couple more. http://www.microsoft.com/atwork/getstarted/speed.mspx

    Like

    Comment by jgoto | February 20, 2009 | Reply

    • jgoto–
      Thanks for the comment and the link. Yes, I am not imparting any new information here. I put this post up once a month as a courtesy “maintenance reminder”… or when a client’s situation reminds me. There’s nothing fun, or sexy, about these items of advice, but I try. It’s a bit like advising regular dentists visits..

      As for the slight variance:
      Disk space; I get uptight if my hard drive gets 75% full, 15% is nice, and you (my experience) will see performance changes at 10% or less (though, I have seen people ignore the pop-up warnings and get to 99% before the hit bothered them..)
      ReadyBoost doesn’t impress me (though I did write about it).
      And I have had bad expriences with CheckDisk “repair bad sectors”. CheckDisk can be a real lifesaver, but I generally avoid that “checkbox” option.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | February 20, 2009 | Reply

  2. TechPaul,

    I concur on your findings about the hard drive space and using the “CheckDisk” repair option. I have had similar experiences.

    Also, Readyboost is just a memory cache that was devised to help the old PC’s out there when Vista came out… Really no major gain with it. Would have to wonder how long flash memory would last with all of the read/writes using readyboost; especially if you used it constantly?

    Very good advice…

    Rick

    Like

    Comment by whatsonmypc | February 20, 2009 | Reply

    • They say the average Flash memory chip is good for 1,000 write/delete.

      If used on a low RAM machine, and acted as extended “virtual RAM” (as intended), and then became active as the swap file’s location, well, that could wear it out pretty fast I would wager..
      Might make an interesting experiment.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | February 20, 2009 | Reply

  3. With all due respect,I don’t wish to argue with my esteemed friend TechPaul, but the idea of keeping 10/15% of a Hard Drive free, is extreme. This figure might have had some validity back in the days of small Hard Drives, if even then.

    Imagine having 100 to 150 GB free on a 1 TB drive!! I know storage is cheap, but to waste 100 to 150 GB??

    Statistically, the average user has a hard drive capacity of 60-80 GB. Who could afford to give up 6/8 GB?

    The standard advice from Microsoft, for years, has been – a user needs at least 2-3MB of free space for programs to run smoothly, unless the programs are extreme. Since 80+ percent of users are XP users, this advice is not unrealistic.

    I’m aware that at the moment, there is some discussion on the 10/15% figure, but the tech forums just laugh it off as being unnecessary, and a waste of Drive space.

    Just recently, on a test machine, I ran with no apparent problems with far less than 2 MB without noticeable slowdown.

    BM

    Like

    Comment by Bill Mullins | February 20, 2009 | Reply

    • Mr. Mullins,
      I agree, actually. I have always thought this “rule of thumb” advice was rather outdated. Logic indicates it is more appropriate for the bygone days of 20 and 40 GB hard-drives being the ‘norm’, (I am still somewhat incredulous that the same size device that once held 4.3 GB’s now holds 1,000..) as “open space” really only becomes a real issue for the swap file, and while defragging the file system…
      and 4 Gigs would be plenty for those purposes.

      I have been caught! Regurgitating the party line.. (sigh)

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | February 20, 2009 | Reply

  4. TechPaul,

    I am now in the middle with both of you… I agree with you (TechPaul) and I agree with Bill. How can that be?

    From my experience, most users do not maintain or do not know how to manage files and/or space on their drives. From my experience, their drives are usually trashed by the time they reach that 10 to 15 percent threshold. So TechPaul, I’m with you in this scenario.

    Now, users who know how to manage their files and disk space and understand “megabytes, gigabytes, and terabytes”, plus the importance of defragmentation, backups, etc… then Bill, I’m with you…

    Ok, now you know why I’m a blogger between Canada and California (LOL).

    Rick

    Like

    Comment by whatsonmypc | February 21, 2009 | Reply

    • Hey Rick,

      I love compromise, and you have done a wonderful job of laying out the compromise on this frustrating question.

      You do a terrific job as the Blogger between Canada and California – you’re hired, permanently. LOL

      We gotta have more of these “let’s hammer” this question out. I love it!

      Bill

      Like

      Comment by Bill Mullins | February 21, 2009 | Reply

    • Day before yesterday I got the standard call — “my computer just got really slow.. and it’s acting weird”.
      So, naturally, that rings my ‘They’re infected’ alarm (the age we live in). But it just turned out to be a packed to the gills hard drive. I mean, less than 1% free space. (They were very relieved to hear that their “problem” was no problem!)

      So.. all I’m saying to my readers is this: once in a while, Click Start > My Computer (just “Computer” in Vista) and then right-click on the Local disk C:\ icon, and choose “Properties”. If the pink wedge of the pie is really skinny, it’s time to take out the trash. Delete (or.. burn to a CD/DVD and then delete) old and unused files.
      The less stuff you have on your drive, the more ‘like new’ it will perform.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | February 21, 2009 | Reply

  5. You know, one of the hardest things to teach people is file management. Majority of people I know, and worked with, if I mention disk space they will give me that “Deer in the headlight look” AND in Bill’s case “Moose in the headlight look”. Learning simple things like “saving a file” or “cut, copy and paste” is challenging to many people; especially when you do not understand the terminology. We have been doing this stuff for a long time and, I don’t know about you, I’m still consuming and learning. There is so much…

    I thank you both, because it is people like you two that want to share, help and teach other people.

    Rick

    Like

    Comment by whatsonmypc | February 21, 2009 | Reply

  6. Guys,

    You are so right Rick.

    True Story: I have a friend who is ex-military – worked the electronics on a Sub Hunter aircraft, so he should be techno savvy. He is absolutely terrible on a computer because he refuses to learn the terminology. One day, I’m sure, I’ll slug him on top of the head!

    Love the “in Bill’s case “Moose in the headlight look”. Gotta show that to my friends – they’re gonna LTAO.

    I think you long ago joined the “real good guys”. The readership on your Blog confirms that.

    Like

    Comment by Bill Mullins | February 21, 2009 | Reply

  7. this software looks cool i will have to try it out because my pc is running a little slow at the moment. Cheers.

    Like

    Comment by a registry cleaner | March 15, 2009 | Reply

  8. why would you show your ad to be free if its not? i would pay for this service if i could. look up the word free
    and do the world a brack!

    Like

    Comment by Anonymous | June 30, 2011 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      Sorry, but I do not have a clue what you are talking about.
      1) I do not run ads here. (In fact I pay a fee to WordPress to make sure no advertisements appear on this site) What ad are you talking about???
      2) If you read-with-comprehension you would know the article tells you the How To steps – you didn’t have to pay to read it.
      3) I also provided links to 3 free software titles.

      You are erroneous (wrong) and took an arrogant tone with me, a person you have never met and know nothing about. It is my intuition that perhaps you will profit by reconsidering your life strategy.

      And FYI, everyone under the sun has a “speed up your PC” program for sale (if you really want to pay) — it’s one of the oldest computer scams going.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | June 30, 2011 | Reply


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