Tuesday, Sep 02nd

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Speed up my computer

Obviously a hardware upgrade such as extra memory and/or faster processor will definitely improve you pc's performance, but when I want to increase my computers speed , I'll look at optimizing what I've already got first. I mean, it seemed pretty fast when I got it originally  so what's changed ?

The years of installing and uninstalling programs, copying files off and on had taken their toll. My pc was running like a slug !

Now I do admit I was tempted to just wipe the thing and install Windows 7. I have used the beta version on a simliar spec'd pc and it was performing much better than my XP.  Why aren't I running Vista ? Don't even go there !  A resource hungry, over sensitive drain on a pc's  meagre resources. Give me XP or now Windows 7 any day. But that's for another article.

So I wanted to give my computer a speed boost but without buying any extra hardware. After many tests and trials, this is my recommendation to anyone in a similar predicment.

How to speed up your computer

1. Cleanup you hard disk

I am the world worst at organising my files, tending just to download things, then forget about them. Well, all those files cost disk space and when your disk space gets low , your disk access becomes slow. I'll explain this more in another article but trust me, the more you have on your hard disk, the slower it gets to access some files. So use control panel & uninstall programs you don't use anymore, delete files you don't need then empty your recycle bin.

XP & Vista come with a disk cleanup utility that will also help you delete all the temporary files left from browsing the internet. Start - > All programs > Accessories >System Tools > Disk cleanup. One word of warning - don't choose compress. In my experience this kills pc performance. Far better remove some files/programs if you are running out of disk space rather than compress.

2.Defragment your hard disk

Over time, files get scattered over the disk surface rather than being all in one place. This means that your pc has to work a lot harder to retrieve that information than necessary. This can cause quite a severe slow down. Ideally files should be stored nice and neatly all in one piece. For maximum performance, the files that are used the most should be on outter part of the disk as this is where the data transfer is fastest.

All versions of Windows do include a basic disk defragger. (Start->All Programs-> Accessories->System Tools->Disk defragment. These programs do a reasonable job of tidying your disk up, Windows 7 having the best version but they cannot compete with the specialist product , DiskMagik .

Why DiskMagik ? Windows doesnt have a Boot-time defrag. This is the only way to reorganise all the files on the disk as some important files like the pagefile are in use. Windows can't prioritze files(DiskMagik can) and a normal Windows defrag, kills a machine, whereas DiskMagik has exclusive " Proactive Defragmentation " technology. This extraordinary feature gives you the option to run DiskMagik silently in the background at all times. Using minimal sy...

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Why is my computer slow ?

There are few things more annoying than a cripplingly slow computer. You know the scenario, you just want to get on quick and print a picture out, or check something on the internet but instead you end up sitting there watching the pointer turn into an hour glass,  so you click again and again . Eventualy you may then get what you wanted (but in triplicate !) but quite often , you reach for that off button to end the misery.

Don't put up with a slow computer any more !

It wasn't that slow when you first had it so what's changed ? Well there are many possible causes, which I'll cover a few of now.

Top 5 causes of pc slowdown

  1. Hard disk full or fragmented
  2. Virus/Trojan/Malware
  3. Over zealous AntiVirus
  4. Corruption of Windows operating system or drivers
  5. Hardware problem

As you use a computer you create files on the hard disk. In the beginning this is fine because theres lots of space for Windows to save them - but as time goes on and applications and files get installed/uninstalled, loaded and deleted your hard disk becomes a mess. This means windows has to work harder to find somewhere to save the files. And when you are trying to open a file,instead of it being nice and neat in one chunk on the disk , it may be scattered all over. This makes it slow to access.

A quick defrag is a good start to try and put things back in order but to get the best benefit you need to do some housekeeping first. The vast majority of defraggers wont even run if you have less than 15% free disk space. (There are some exceptions which I'll cover later).

Viruses,trojans & malware. You've all heard of it and have probably been affected by them at some stage. They can really mess things up and the newer rootkit ones are crafty. They hide themselves from the operating system so even if you can find out the files that are causing the problem, your virus checker may not be able to help you sort it out.

Over zealous antivirus. Okay, you've had the scare stories about viruses, so you go and install yet another antivirus all in one suite. The number of machines I see with , multiple virus checkers, spam bots, firewalls etc etc, its no wonder the pc is grinding to a halt every time it tries to access a file. Even if you have only one virus program, some of them really make a performance hit on your machine.

Corruption. Believe it or not computers aren't too impressed when we switch them off in utter frustration whilst the are still trying to do something. This can quite often cause files to be written incorrectly on the hard disk which in turn will give us more problems next time we boot up.

Hardware. Bad blocks on a hard disk. I used to think these were relatively rare but not any more I come across more than a few 'weird' problems that were caused by bad blocks on a disk. A bad block is a damaged area on the hard disk that can make windows effectively stall if it tries to read or right anything from there. The good news is this doesn't mean you need a new computer,(well not yet anyway) it just means that we need to tell windows how to avoid this area and move any data outta there!

The solution

What we need is an easy way to fix all t...

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