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How to Increase the Performance of a Computer

Many long-term computer owners find that the performance of their computer seems to become poorer during the time that they own it. Some even respond to this problem by purchasing a new computer. However, this is seldom necessary. Computer hardware does not decrease in speed over time. Rather, it is the software running on the machine that becomes increasingly bloated, straining the system with unnecessary programs and features that continue running on the system in spite of the fact that they are no longer used. While hardware upgrades can be used to make a computer faster than it was when it was originally purchased, the key to returning a computer to its original level of performance is in software. This article explains some of the steps that can be taken to revive a slow computer.

Defragmenting the Hard Drive

Hard drives generally use the first block of free space available when writing a file. If the file being written is larger than the block that is being written to, the file is broken and continued on the next available block. This creates a "fragmented" file. Fragmented files take longer for the hard drive to read because of the physical movement involved in reading files located on different parts of the media. Defragment your hard drive regularly using the built-in utility included with Windows or a program from another software company. Diskeeper is one popular program for this purpose.

Reducing the Number of Startup Programs

Many programs have components that run automatically when the computer starts up, even if those programs are not used at all. These might include online weather checkers, automatic update utilities, instant messaging programs and "quick launch" programs for portable media players. Ideally, these programs should be uninstalled if they no longer serve a purpose. However, if they may be used again someday, the MSCONFIG program can be used to prevent most programs from running automatically. Run MSCONFIG by pressing the Windows and "R" keys on the keyboard, then typing "MSCONFIG" into the box that appears. Click the "Startup" tab, and remove the check from the box next to each unnecessary startup program. Click "OK" and restart your computer when you are finished.

Scanning for Malicious Software

In most cases, users report that the slowing down of their computer seems to be a gradual process, which is a correct assessment--the slowdown occurs largely because of several years worth of unnecessary software being installed. However, a sudden slowdown is likely to be caused by malicious software such as a virus. Read several independent trusted software reviews, then select the anti-virus solution that you believe best fits your needs. There are several different antivirus softwares available. Just to mention a few good ones: Norton, McAfee and AVG.

Cleaning and Repairing the System Registry

All of the configuration information needed for your computer to operate properly are stored in an information repository called the system registry. Every time a program is installed on the computer, more information is added to it. Over time, this causes the registry to expand, growing to many times its original size. Additionally, when programs are removed from the computer, the information that was added to the registry when they were installed is often left there. Because making manual modifications to the registry is time-consuming and dangerous, a third-party utility is generally the best choice for resolving registry issues. ErrorTeck is one of the more popular solutions for registry issues. ErrorTeck is a program that finds and corrects most registry issues, while also scanning the hard drive for unnecessary programs that can be deleted to reclaim lost hard drive space.

Reinstalling the Operating System

While the previous steps suggested in this article can result in dramatic performance improvements on a computer, the fastest way to guarantee that a computer will be returned to its original speed is to remove everything from the hard drive and reinstall Windows. This is a complicated procedure if there is data on the hard drive that needs to be retained, however, and new computer users may have difficulty with the backup process and knowing which files need to be kept. One way to accomplish this is to combine reinstalling Windows with purchasing a new hard drive. With the old hard drive remaining in the system, data can be moved from the old hard drive to the new one at a slower pace to avoid errors.

Upgrading the Hardware

Upgrading the hardware in a computer is always certain to improve its performance, especially if the upgrade is performed concurrently with a reinstall of the operating system. For the average user, the hard drive is the most effective component to upgrade. Because the hard drive has moving parts, while the CPU and RAM do not, upgrading an older hard drive to a more modern one can result in performance improvements that are dramatic. An improved video card is also worth considering in a computer that is regularly used for 3D gaming.

Microsoft Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries. Speed improvements vary based on your system configuration. ErrorTeck is not endorsed or affiliated with either Microsoft or the third party applications it supports.