PC Speed: How to increase your computer speed without hardware upgrades


18.06.2009

People often feel the time has come for a computer upgrade because the computer seems slower and slower. If it it ran at it’s original specs it will still do the trick for a great deal of time, but… it doesn’t, does it? We feel you should know a few secrets before taking the decision to spends cash on a new PC or hardware upgrades. Depending on your OS (I for one use XP SP3 and will only change it once Windows 7 hits decency level, probably some 1 year after it goes live), hardware and other factors you can boost up speed by up to 30% following the steps below.

Windows’ most common problem: the REGISTRY

The Windows Registry is a database which stores settings and options for Microsoft Windows operating systems. It contains information and settings for hardware, operating system software, most non-operating system software, and per-user settings – note this part. It uses something called “hives” to neatly store settings, you will see if you’re curious enough to surf it some fields like: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftWindows which refers to the subkey “Windows” of the subkey “Microsoft” of the subkey “Software” of the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key. And so on. Well, what’s my point with the registry and boosting speed? This registry gets strained over time, connections loose touch and some programs you unnistall and stop using leave marks behind which slow Windows as a whole. The associative array that is the Registry should be as simple and thin as possible. Registry mess can explain why your PC is fast in it’s first days and then gets slower and crashes often as time goes by and programs are installed/uninstalled. The registry can be edited manually in Microsoft Windows by running regedit.exe or regedt32.exe in the Windows directory. To better registry activity you should either install few programs and make sure you uninstall those you don’t need properly, or get a registry clean-up soft like RegCLeaner, Regsweep or the suite SpeedUpMyPC. Google might lead you to others.

Fragmented drives

Data is not stored in a simple way as you see it with your computer browser. Files are splitted intro raw data, little segments that sometimes are located apart from each other. It’s like a puzzle, but with time the segments tend to break apart and cause the computer to slow down when accessing those particular files. Most important, the C:Windows and C:Program Files areas, plus your favourite games areas of course. It’s easy to understand that if a .dll which a game uses is fragmented on the hard it will slow down the game or even crash it. Fortunately, Windows did always include means to defragment the drive easy and fairly fast. Vista does not include any graphics anymore, but in Xp and earlier version (ah, good old Windows 95 actually showed each cluster – geeky but nice) visually inform you on the degree of fragmentation. So set the puzzle right and speed up your daily Pc-ing by right clicking the hard-drive>Properties>Tools (tab)>Defragment Now. It might also be a smart move to check for errors first. That’s in the same place, right above the Defrag Tool. Additional hint: this might also gain you some free space, not much but…it matters.

Check your computer for malware/spam-ware/spy-ware. Not just viruses !

I presume all of you are using some kind of antivirus software. I strongly recommend buying Kaspersky or Norton. NOD32 is also a good choice, mostly for those with older PCs and less RAM memory. However, most of these do not check thoroughly for malware, dialers and the sorts. These, while not actual viruses and not that harmful, can slow down the PC most of all when you’re using the Internet. Many registry cleaners I mentioned above can help you with this, if not I can recommend Spyboy Search&Destroy (gotta love the name baby!) – website here.

Manage start-up programs

As any 5-year old must know nowadays, a program stars once you click on it, or start it somehow. Still, many programs start by default when Windows loads. These are include in the Start-up program list, and some are needed and ok but some are not. You can go to Start>run>msconfing>Startup(Tab) and disable those you do not need. Even software you trust and need can add themselves to startup, like QuickTime and Adobe. If you later on want to add a soft to Start-Up, you should just add a shortcut to Start>Programs>Startup.

Optimize virtual memory and add some RAM

Windows XP handles with ease 4GB of Ram. More of it makes it unstable, or just useless as it is peaked it many ways to 4GB. Suffice to say, the total memory you use should be 4GB. So if you have 1GB of physical RAM you should set virtual memory to 3GB, go to Start>Control Panel>System>Advanced>at Performance click of Settings>Advanced>at Virtual Memory you will see hot much it is at the moment. Usually it’s fine if you leave it as it is, but if you notice it’s far from adding to 4 with your RAM, click Change, set it manually on one partition (preferably not C:). Use same values at min and max. For example, if you have 2gb RAM set virtual memory to 2050 kb. Vista handles more, so set it to some 5-6GB total if you have enough free space on your harddisk. Virtual memory will handle processes at your harddisk’s speed. So if your HD speed is around 60mb/sec that’s the speed. RAM speed is light speed, in some cases some gbs/sec. Obviously, more RAM and less Virtual Mem is the ideal case. Still, this guide is meant to prevent spending money so …

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