Bytes Of Information

How to keep your PC running the best it can.

By Scott Sekinger

1/21/13

 

Everyone wants to keep their PC running the best it can.  Over time your PC slows down and starts to have problems.  This is caused by many different things.  This article offers some tips to make sure that your PC runs the best it can.

Before I start with the tips it is important to remember that your PC works best with the software it was designed for.

1.      File cleanup – over time your PC collects a lot of junk files that you do not need.  This includes internet temp files, and other files the software leaves behind after you are done.

You can use the Windows built in disk cleanup program, and/or other programs to get the files that are no longer needed off your PC.

The fastest way to run the Disk Cleanup program is to:

a.      Press the <Windows> + <R> key.

b.      Type cleanmgr.exe in the Run dialog box, and press the Enter key.

c.       Just follow the Disk Cleanup Wizard once it comes up.  I suggest that select everything.  In my opinion there is no reason to keep these files.

The following links will show you alternative ways to run Disk Cleanup depending on version of Windows you are using.

a.      How to Run Disk Cleanup in Windows 8

b.      Free Hard Drive Space with Disk Cleanup

c.       How to Use Disk Cleanup in Windows 7 and Vista

There are many programs out there that will perform file cleanup for you.. I suggest CCleaner.  This software not only gets rid of unneeded files, but also performs of the things that help speed up your PC.  Some of these other features will be discussed later.

I suggest you run both, because one will get rid of some files that the other one will not and vice versa.

2.      Disk Defrag - Disk cleanup is the process of putting file pieces back to back.  Over time as files get created and delete your OS has problems writing file data back to back.  This is because some files are larger than others, and the OS starts to write file data in the first block (first area of available disk space.).  This slows down the read and write of files.

There are many programs out there that defragment your hard drive.  I recommend that you first try Window’s built in disk defragmenter.  Check out Disk Defragmenter (Windows)  to learn more about Window’s Disk Defragmenter.  Check out Wiki how's article How to Defragment a Disk on a Windows Computer  to learn how to use Windows defragmenter

If you do not like Window’s built Disk Defragmenter then I suggest Auslogics Disk Defrag.  This is a very popular program found on CNET’s Download.com.  Another great free program is Smart Defrag.

3.      Uninstall unneeded programs – Over time we install programs that we really do not need.  This includes programs that we wanted to test, and old programs that we no longer use. 

 

CCleaner comes with a very good uninstall feature that is better than the uninstaller built into Windows.

Check out Using Windows Installer (Windows) if you prefer to use the uninstaller built into Windows.

4.      Watch What You Install  - Be mindful on what you install.  Some software want you to install programs like you to install extra software that 90% of the time you do not want.  Adobe Flash Player for example wants you to install Google Chrome.  If you do not want the extra software uncheck the box.  Consider doing a custom install.  That helps you cut down on unneeded software from being installed.

 

5.      Update your software – Over time software venders distribute updates to their software that improves performance.  Check to see if there are updates to the software you use by either using the built check update feature or going to the vender’s website to see if there are any patches.

 

CNETs Tech Tracker is a nice a piece of software that helps you keep your software up to date

 

6.      Update your driver – Updating your drivers can also improve the performance of your PC. To do this you can try Windows Updates.  Windows Updates offers the latest drivers tested by Microsoft for many types of hardware.  You can also head over to the Hardware Vender’s website to get the latest drivers.

There is a great piece of software called Slimdrivers, which search the internet for your PC’s latest drivers.

 

7.      Registry Cleanup  - Over time the Windows Registry  ( A database of the settings used for the Windows to run your software you use) gets filled cluttered with a lot un necessary entries.  Once again CCleaner  comes to save the day It has a great tool for cleaning you Registry.

8.      Registry Defrag  - Like your hard drive your Registry can become fragmented.  There is a great free program to defrag your Registry called Auslogics Registry Defrag.

 

9.      Watch The Software Requirements – Before you buy / install a piece of software check the software requirements for the software.  I recommend that you do not install it If your PC barely meets the requirements. It might work, but you will not have a good experience using the software.  Most of the time there are alternative pieces of software that are more suitable for your PC.

 

10.  Stop Unneeded Programs From Starting – There are a lot of programs out there that love to run a program at startup.

 

a.      CCleaner.   Has a great startup manager which allows you to disable startup programs. 

b.      Microsoft has a great program called AutoRuns.  Check out the article QBS PC Help - Using Autoruns to Speed Up Performance to learn more about using AutoRuns.

c.        You also can use Microsoft MSConfig to disable startup programs.   You can learn more about MSConfig by reading How To Use Msconfig to Stop Startup Programs From Loading.

When disabling programs remember to note what you disable, and stay a   from the big names like HP, Dell, Intel, and ASUS  Read How to Disable Startup Programs in Windows - How-To Geek.

11.  Malware Check - Periodically check for Malware.  Update and run your Antimalware software.  If you do not have one check out AVG Antivirus , and  Microsoft Security Essentials. 

You might want to run Windows Defender Offline to check for Malware.

Check out Stop From Getting Bite By Malware, and Wikipedi's Malware Article for information on Malware.

 

12.  Re due Your PC – Some time is best is to start from scratch.  Check out How to Re due Your Windows PC From Media to learn how to re due your PC.

 

13.  Switch OS’s – Sometimes it is best to upgrade your O.  For example if you will notice a big performance increase if you upgrade from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7.

You might want to try a version of Linux if you have a very old PC   I recommend  Puppy Linux.  Linux is a great way to breathe life into an old PC.

 

14.  Disk Error Check – Problems with your hard drive can cause PC performance issues.  You should check your hard drive for errors once in a while. Check out the articles below to learn how to check your hard drive for errors

a.      The How-To Geek Guide to Using Check Disk in Windows 7 or Vista

b.      Check your hard drive for errors in Windows 8 - Geeks in Phoenix

 

15.  Ready Boost – Windows Vista, Windows 7 and 8 have a great feature called Ready Boost that uses a USB Flash drive for RAM.

 

16.  Upgrade Your Hardware  - Upgrade your PC is the best  keep your PC  running the software you want to use.  This is especially the case for Gamers. See your local computer support person for more assistance.

I highly recommend you check the article How to Use CCleaner Like a Pro: 9 Tips & Tricks to learn how to use CCleaner before you begin using it.