Computer Performance – 7 Ways to Speed Up Windows Computers

Are you sick and tired of it taking forever to open a website, file, or program? Did your computer seem to run a lot faster when you first got it? If your answers to these 2 questions were yes, then please read on. In this article, I am going to give you tips to speed up your computer. They can all be done today, even if you are new to computers. The 7 steps that I will share with you are so easy; believe me, you can do it! These are techniques that computer technicians in several different support organizations do, and some charge a lot of money for their walking you through these processes. You are going to get them today at no charge. Are you ready? Then let’s begin!

Step 1: Scandisk

It would help if you ran Scandisk at least once a month. This will make sure that your computer can read all of the information on your disk. How will this speed up my computer? I’m glad you asked! You see, your computer has in its hard-to-drive what the technicians call redundancy. What I mean is if your computer is trying to read a file and the data isn’t read correctly from the disk, the computer tries to read that information, again and again, a set number of times. This results in slower loading times. When Scandisk is run regularly, this keeps your disk free of these storage errors and enables the computer to get the information it needs from the disk as fast as possible. Scandisk should be run before the next step every time.

I know you’re asking, how do I run scan disk. It’s simple. Find that icon on your desktop or in your start menu labeled ‘My Computer.’ In there, you will see a listing of all the drives on your computer. Right-click on the drive you want to scan and go to properties. There, you will have a tools tab. Click on it. You will see a button that says check for errors. This is Scandisk or also called check disk on different versions of windows. There are 2 different modes, Standard or Thorough.

Standard checks and makes sure that all the bits and pieces of your files are in a spot on the disk where it thinks they should be. In other words, it checks for filing errors. Thoroughly do a standard check and tests each spot on the disk where the drive can write something and make sure that it reads back the same thing. If it doesn’t read the same information back, it marks that spot as bad not to use it. This keeps down that redundancy thing we spoke of earlier. Wasn’t that easy? Now, on to Step 2.

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Step 2: Defrag

Defrag should be run once a week if you use your computer more than 14 hours a week. This equates to about 2 hours a day. Most people who actively use their computers will fall into this category. Defrag, whose real name is disk defragmenter, is your best friend for speed. You see, when your computer writes something to the disk, it starts the disk to turning and drops bits of the data you want to write wherever there is a hole. It then tells the filing system where it placed that piece. So your file could be literally broken into 20 pieces!

Your disk takes longer to load the file because it has to jump around to different spots to gather the pieces together when it needs it. Defrag takes care of this by gathering the pieces together and writing them back to the disk in one piece. This way, when you need the information, it’s all right there. To defrag, it’s the same as where we went for scan disk. You go to ‘My Computer and you right-click on the drive you want to defrag on and go to properties. There go to the tools tab. Click the Defragment button. Wow, this is getting easier by the minute! On to step 3.

Step 3: Background Programs

Background programs really slow down your computer’s performance. They accomplish this by using up your computer’s resources. Resources are the combined power of your processor (brain), memory, and disk space. These 3 are the equivalent of horsepower. This is where you will gain a lot of your speed back as well. If you look at an area of your screen right now, I can show you a fraction of some of these that you never thought of.

The area I want you to look at is called your system tray. It is located next to your clock, which is opposite your start menu. If your start menu is on the left side, then the clock is on the right. Next to the clock, you will see these little icons or pictures. These are programs that run on your computer whenever it boots. Guess what? These are background programs. They are there to help load things you need faster. If you are following this guide, you really don’t need most of them. Do you?

Here are how you get rid of them and most others that you can’t even see. Sorry folks who are on Windows 2000, this step won’t work for you. If you read to the end I will give you a bonus that will make up for it, I promise. Ok, for the rest of you, click on start. Click on the run-type MSConfig. Click ok. You should get a system configuration utility. Be very careful here and follow my instructions exactly. Click on the startup tab at the top. You will have a list of all the programs that run when your computer boots or starts.

If you look down the list, there will be some names that are familiar to you. When you see those names, I want you to think: “Do I really need this program running all the time?” If the answer is no, uncheck the box. For example, some of you may have heard of RealPlayer. There’s a smart start icon associated with it. You really don’t need a real player running when you will only be playing FreeCell, now do you? 🙂 On to step 4.


Step 4: Temporary Files

Temporary files hold up space on your disk. These files are, most of the time, useless. Temporary files are just that; files that were temporarily created by a program or installer. They are supposed to be deleted when not needed any longer, but many programs do a poor job of cleaning them up. Helping them out will get you more speed for your horsepower. For example: let’s take temporary internet files. When you go to a website, every element of that website’s decorations is stored in a temp file on your computer. Your computer does this to help supposedly. It’s supposed to help when you revisit the same site; the elements of the website will already be on your computer and therefore don’t have to be downloaded again.

This, in theory, should speed up your surfing. Wrong! Here’s what really goes down. For every element of the website, your computer reads every temp file to see if it matches. Every single file in your temporary internet files folder! To get a grasp of this, here’s what I want you to do. Open internet explorer. Go to the tools menu and click on internet options. Click the settings button. Then click the view files button. Do you see what I mean? Every file! Now…Close the temporary internet files window.

Click OK on the settings window. Do you see that button next to the settings on the internet options window? It’s labeled delete files. Click it. Check delete all offline content. Click ok. When the hourglass is gone, you are all clean! This should be done once a month. This will keep your whole computer running smoothly. The secret lies in Internet Explorer. It’s integrated so much into windows when it has a problem; windows have a problem. What I am saying is when you opened my computer in steps 1 and 2. You were using internet explorer. Ok. Nuff said. On to step 5!

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Step 5: Antivirus

Good Antivirus software is an absolute must! There are several choices to choose from. Some cost money, and some don’t. Viruses hide on your computer and wreak havoc. If you don’t have antivirus software on your computer, you will never know they are there. They sit and hide out until their appointed time and then interfere with your computer. Viruses are programs written by people with too much time on their hands and not enough morals. They sit and think of ways to make your day bad. Some viruses will sit on your computer and do nothing but open up connections to other servers all over the internet.

What does that do? It slows your computer down drastically! Nuff said. Your choices are to get paid antivirus software like Norton, Mcafee, or Computer Associates. If you don’t have the cash to spare, then you can go to your favorite search engines like Yahoo or Google and enter in ‘free antivirus download’ and get a list of all kinds of scanners. Some are far better than none. Some of the best free software that I have found are AVG, Avast!, and ClamWin. If you have a fear of installing software, never fear.

There are also free online virus scanners. Again, you go to your favorite search engine and type in ‘free online virus scan,’ and you will get plenty of results. Beware, though, with these scanners; you run the risk of getting infected still. The reason is you have to go to the site and scan the computer yourself, preferably once a week. In that time, a virus could have already infected your machine. Antivirus software installed on the computer checks every file every time it’s used, thus drastically decreasing the chances of infection. It’s like a flu shot. Some of the good online virus scanners are Norton, Panda, and BitDefender. Now, on to step 6.

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Step 6: Recycle Bin

It is essential to keep your recycle bin empty. I mean that you don’t want to have hundreds of files sitting in your recycle bin that you deleted 6 months ago. They are taking up valuable space. Windows uses your drive as the memory to run programs. When you run out of physical memory, it uses a page or swap file and stores it there. These recycle bin files are taking up space that windows could be using for memory. Every bit of memory you can get adds to your horsepower. So for God’s sake, please keep your recycle bin tidy. Get rid of things that you are sure you won’t need again. When you delete something, and you are sure you won’t need it again, you can hold down the shift key and press the delete key to delete it without sending it to the recycle bin permanently. And now, last but not least, step 7.


Step 7: Adware and Spyware

I like to call these small-time viruses. The industry calls them parasites. Norton calls them extended threats. Do you get my drift? What are adware and spyware, you may ask? They are actually quite similar. I’ll start first by explaining the ways that you can get them on your computer. Let’s say you download a ‘free’ program to run on your computer that you think is pretty neat. If you are like most of us, you don’t take the time to read the license agreement. If you did, you would find a line similar to installing this product; you agree to install the XYZ product, which will send marketing information to the software makers.

Do you see how they get you? One of the other ways you can get it is by going to some random website. It doesn’t matter what it is, but they have this script that runs as the page is loading, and it installs the adware and/or spyware on your computer. The last way that I will discuss here is a virus. There are viruses out there whose sole job is downloading adware, spyware, keyloggers, and other malicious software onto your computer. These things really slow your computer down. Here’s how they work.

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Adware and spyware install on your computer, and watch what you do, where you surf, you know what you are interested in. They then open a connection to a server and report your activities. They are very good at what they do! Where adware and spyware differ is spyware does nothing but report your activities. On the other hand, Adware reports your activities, and the server it reports to sends it an ad to display on your computer. Now, just like there are antivirus programs out there, there are excellent anti-spyware and anti-adware programs on the market. No adware, Spybot, and Adaware are a few of the good ones.

In conclusion, there are 7 major ways to speed up your computer with simple maintenance and preventative measures. Run scan disk, defrag, get rid of excess background programs, delete temporary files, get some antivirus software, and also get a good adware and spyware remover utility. I hope you have found this information useful. I hope that I have helped someone here with this information, and I pray that you will check out some other beneficial information at

P. S. For you Windows 2000 users, I made a promise to you back in step 3. Here’s where I deliver! If you can get access to a Windows 98, ME, or XP machine. You can copy msconfig.exe to a disk and use it on your computer to get rid of background programs using the directions in step 3. Just search the c: drive for msconfig.exe and copy it to floppy. Could you bring it to your computer and run it? God Bless! I have been in computer support for 10 years. I was born and raised in Dallas. I am a Sunday School teacher at my church, Independent Missionary Baptist Church, located at 1108 West Milam St. Ennis, TX 75119, where Rev. Louis Massey is Pastor. I invite you all to come and visit us sometime.

Sandy Ryan
Writer. Music advocate. Devoted bacon trailblazer. Hardcore web fanatic. Travel junkie. Avid creator. Thinker. Skateboarder, coffee addict, record lover, reclaimed wood collector and RGD member. Producing at the junction of minimalism and mathematics to craft delightful brand experiences. I'm a designer and this is my work.