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Quick and Affordable Ways to Increase the Speed of Your Computer

Information deleted and added to a computer progressively slows the machine's performance. As the user installs software, deletes files, and moves directories, the hard drive becomes fragmented. When more software is installed, it consumes more memory and reduces the speed of the computer. Computer users who need better performance from their machine can improve its speed by following some basic maintenance procedures.

Defrag the Hard Drive

You may have heard the term "defrag" from a computer repair technician, but do you know how it works? Even though defragging tools are available through the operating system, users fail to keep up with weekly maintenance of the hard drive. Defragging organizes the file system on the sectors of the hard drive.

Files are saved in sectors, which are the tiniest elements of the drive. A sector contains 512 bytes of values that contain either a one or a zero. Clusters are groups of sectors linearly arranged on a hard drive. When you save a file to the hard drive, the data is written contiguously on clusters. If a cluster is already used, the hard drive saves the data on the next available cluster. As information is deleted from the hard drive, the clusters are cleared and made available for future data. When the user saves a file, this cleared cluster is used first and the next available cluster is used for the rest of the file. If the file is larger than the cleared cluster size, the system finds another section of the drive to complete the save process. The scattered data on the hard drive creates fragmentation of files. Fragmented data leads to slower performance on the computer since the hard drive needs more time to find the scattered parts of the file and piece them together.

Defrag programs rearrange and organize clusters by grouping file data in a contiguous row on the hard drive. Files that are less fragmented are loaded faster and provide better performance on the computer. Defrag programs are freely distributed with your operating system of choice. Defragging a hard drive once a week or once a month will keep data organized and improve the speed of the computer.

Add More Random Access Memory (RAM)

The amount of RAM on a computer determines how much virtual memory is required. When a computer runs a program, it loads the software into RAM until memory is filled. When RAM is filled to capacity, the rest of the application is written and retrieved from the hard drive. The space on the hard drive used when RAM resources are exceeded is called virtual memory. The operating system reserves virtual memory space on the hard drive. This hard drive space grows and shrinks as programs are loaded and closed. If a computer has low memory and attempts to run a software application with high RAM requirements, the operating system is forced to write a large part of the program to virtual memory. Virtual memory is much slower than RAM, so running applications that require much more RAM than available on the computer slows performance.

Adding more memory to the computer provides more available RAM for faster performance. Older computer motherboards are unable to utilize high quantities of RAM. Check with the manufacturer of the motherboard to ensure the hardware is capable of utilizing additional RAM. It's also important to install the right kind of RAM. Most motherboard manufacturers list RAM requirements on the company website.

Remove Startup Programs

Some of the software you install will add its executable file to the startup registry key on the computer. By adding itself to the registry, the program is loaded every time you boot the machine. Some applications place an icon in the system tray, which can be used to disable startup options. If the application is not being used, the best method is to permanently uninstall the program. You can also remove the applications from startup using the "System Information" tool found in the Windows "Accessories" menu. By removing unused applications from startup, you free RAM resources for other programs.

Using these three methods, you can improve the performance of a computer. These are common reasons users observe slower performance on their computers, and they are affordable issues to remedy. Eventually, a computer may need a hardware upgrade. However, these maintenance methods will keep the computer running more smoothly.


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.