A Comprehensive Guide to Speeding Up Computer Performance

Trying to gauge whether your computer is running as fast as it could be is usually like trying to tell how much your kids have grown. Usually speed losses are incremental and not noticed individually - but going through a checklist for speeding up your computer can make an amazing difference to your experience. Here are some simple steps to speed up computer performance that everyone can use.

Free up disk space

1. Remove junk files
You don't even have to click a "Save" button once while using your computer to accumulate junk files. Simply checking emails, setting your computer to hibernate or surfing the web will build up junk files on your computer. One way to clean them up and speed up your computer is to run the Windows inbuilt "Disk Cleanup" utility. To do that go to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Cleanup. You can also get third party programs that can find and delete even more junk files. These include:
  • Auslogics BoostSpeed
  • Wise Disk Cleaner Pro
2. Remove duplicate files
You may not realize how many duplicate files you have accumulated on your system! Even people
who do relatively little file management and movement can still accumulate duplicate files. It is a painfully time consuming task to try to remove all of them manually. Use a third party application like:
  • Auslogics BoostSpeed
  • Auslogics Duplicate File Finder
  • Easy Duplicate Finder
  • Duplicate Finder
3. Uninstall unnecessary applications
Here is another tip on how to speed up your computer. It only takes a couple of months of computer use for unneeded programs to start stacking up. To check over your list of installed programs and remove the ones you don't need, do the following:
  • In Windows XP, go to Start -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs
  • In Windows 7 and Vista, go to Start -> Control Panel -> Programs -> Programs and Features

Check through the list and consider uninstalling applications you don’t use frequently. Make sure you have a backup copy of any program you have paid for!

Defragmenting your hard drive

Defragmentation should be performed regularly to help speed up your computer. The defrag process unites scattered pieces of files to help you access them faster.
  • Heavy users should defragment weekly
  • Moderate users should defragment fortnightly
  • Light users should defragment monthly
You can use a Windows inbuilt utility as well as third-party applications for defragmenting disks. Third party applications are often faster and more user-friendly. If you find the inbuilt tool frustrating to use, give one of these apps a shot:
  • Auslogics BoostSpeed
  • Auslogics Disk Defrag
  • Defraggler
  • MyDefrag

Repairing registry problems

It is possible to repair registry errors yourself if you are a very experienced computer user or have a know the exact origin of your problem and step-by-step instructions to fix it.
For most of us, though, a registry repair program that scans for problems and automatically fixes them is the best option to speed up your computer. Run these programs once a week, fortnight or month, just before you defrag your computer. Here are some popular ones:
  • Auslogics BoostSpeed
  • Registry Mechanic

Defragmenting the registry

There aren't any inbuilt Windows tools that defragment the registry - you'll need to use a third-part utility. Some programs (like Auslogics BoostSpeed) that offer registry repair will also defrag the registry, which will help speed up your computer.

Disabling auto-start applications

Many programs will set themselves to auto-start when you boot your computer, even though you might only use them once a month. These background applications can take up a lot of RAM. That's why disabling the auto-start option for programs you don’t need can do a lot to speed up your computer.
To check for unnecessary auto-start programs:
  • Click Start. If you use XP, go to Run and type msconfig, if you use Vista simply type it in the search box in the Start menu.
  • Go to the Startup tab.
  • Uncheck any boxes for programs you don't use regularly. Note that you can still open these programs on request - they just won't auto-load on boot up.
If you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7, you can also go to the Startup folder under All Programs in the Start menu. If you see any programs in the list that you don’t need, simply right-click on them and choose to delete them from the list. Don't worry, they won't be uninstalled from your computer.
Here are some popular programs for helping speed up the process of disabling auto-start applications - it can be a bit intimidating:
  • Auslogics BoostSpeed
  • System Explorer
  • Startup Select
Now you know one more answer to the question "how to make my computer faster".

Removing malware

Malware can also slow down your computer, running in the background and taking up system resources. To speed up your computer, install a good anti-malware product and set it to auto-update and run scheduled scans.
There are literally hundreds of good anti-malware programs available, however several stand out:
  • Auslogics Antivirus
  • Malwarebytes Anti-malware
  • Spyware Doctor
ALWAYS use a trusted name when it comes to anti-malware software. There are hundreds of rogue anti-malware programs that will actually install malware on your computer.

Using ReadyBoost

In Windows Vista and Windows 7, there is an inbuilt utility to speed up your computer that allows you to use a USB flash drive or a memory card as additional computer memory.
  • In Windows Vista, if the device is fast enough to work with the ReadyBoost feature, you will be asked when it loads if you want to use it for ReadyBoost. Tell the computer Yes, and the wizard will walk you through the process.
  • In Windows 7, you can go to Start -> Computer and right-click on the drive you want to use for ReadyBoost. Click Properties, and go to the ReadyBoost tab. Here you can choose to allocate either the entire device, or part of the device for ReadyBoost, depending on what you need it for.
We've mentioned the third-party applications that are available for most of these "speed up my computer" tasks - and there are actually some software packages that have the capability to do all of these tasks, such as Auslogics BoostSpeed. Many have a free trial available for you to evaluate how well they work as well. There really is no reason to put up with a slow computer anymore!