Tips on speeding up a computer

Computer running slow? Yeah, it happens. They tend to slow down over time. So I’m throwing together a quick list of my tips for getting them running like new.

1. Virus Scan

You should do these pretty frequently anyways, but who does? I’d recommend you set up the automatic scheduling deal to run sometime that it won’t be annoying, but will get done. Anyhow, this might speed your computer up a bit. If it doesn’t, oh well, you didn’t have any viruses. It’s good to make sure.

Don’t have any antivirus software? I’d recommend Microsoft Security Essentials. Yes, I know, me recommending a Microsoft product. It’s weird. But, it’s a pretty good piece of software.

Got it installed? I hope you can manage that on your own. If you desperately need me to teach you how, complain at me in the comments, I’ll throw together a tutorial for that.

Now, pull it up. You get a full, fancy tutorial for this bit.

Look for an icon like this:  Microsoft Security Essentials tray icon

If it’s a different color scheme, that would be MSE complaining that you haven’t done a scan yet. Let’s fix that.

So, right click on the icon, and hit ‘open’. The full window shows up, looking something like this:

Microsoft Security Essentials

In that area on the right, click the ‘Full’ option, and then hit ‘Start Scan’. It’ll take a while. Go read a book or something. Yes, those still exist.

2. Clean Up

a. Delete Old Stuff

Now for the interesting bit. Cleaning stuff up. First, the bit you have to do on your own. Go through your My Documents, My Videos, My Pictures, and My Music folders, and find stuff you don’t need anymore. Delete it – WARNING/DISCLAIMER: if there is any chance you might need it later, don’t delete it. I’d recommend making backups and stuff first.

b. In-Depth Cleaning

Alright, you’ve gone through and deleted stuff. Empty the Recycle Bin, because deleting stuff doesn’t actually delete it until you do that. Now we’re bringing in the big guns. Head on over to Piriform’s website and pick up CCleaner. (For some reason, my brain insists on reading that as ‘CC Cleaner’.) While you’re there, download Defraggler, we’ll be using it later. Install both of ’em.

Now start up CCleaner. Give it permission to run. Select the ‘Cleaner’ tab on the left side. CCleaner 'Cleaner' tab

The defaults are okay here. In the lower right, click the ‘Analyze’ button. You don’t strictly have to do this, but it’s kinda fun to see how much it’ll get rid of for you.

It’ll take a while to run. On my computer, it can get rid of around 30 megabytes of stuff. And I ran this thing less than a week ago. That internet cache fills up fast, apparently.

Go ahead and hit the ‘Run Cleaner’ button. Wait for it to load, and… ta-da! That’s a chunk of memory cleaned out.

c. Registry Cleanup

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? Fortunately, we already have the tools to do it. CCleaner is quite the handy little program. Hit up the ‘Registry’ tab. CCleaner 'Registry' tab

Leave the default settings alone, and tell it to ‘Scan for issues’. It’ll take a bit, but there’s a lot of registry to scan through.

While you’re waiting, I’ll explain about the registry: it’s a big database of your settings. All of them. For every program, including Windows itself. (If you aren’t running Windows, sorry, this whole tutorial is probably wildly wrong for your computer.) Why clean it out? Well, any time you uninstall a program, bits and pieces get left behind. They take up space, and can slow your computer down. And it’s not that hard to clean it up, what with the smart folks at Piriform doing all this programming of stuff for you.

Done? Alright, hit ‘Fix selected issues’. If you want, you can make a backup of the changes to the registry when it asks you. Your choice.

Now, you’ll see a window something like this. CCleaner Registry Error view

If you want, you can go through one by one and ‘fix issue’ one after another. That might take a while, considering that, if this is your first time doing this, there can be in excess of 500 issues to fix. It’s easier to hit the ‘Fix All’ button. Close out of that.

d. Uninstall Programs

Next tab in CCleaner. CCleaner 'Tools' tab Tools! There’s a few different things in here. If it’s selected something other than ‘Uninstall’ in the second tab listing thing, hit that. You’ll see a full list of programs installed on your computer – it’s like the ‘Programs and Features’ bit of the Control Panel, but a bit more powerful. And it runs faster. Microsoft, take a few ideas from them.

Go down the list. Find anything you don’t need/use. There’ll probably be some crapware left over from when you got the computer. Use the ‘Run Uninstaller’ button to get rid of them. It’s impressive how much space you can clear up like that.

e. Startup

Alright, this one is a little bit more complicated. All the programs in this list run whenever your computer starts, and they can slow it down. A lot. So, go through, look at the list of things (look in the ‘Program’ column, it makes far more sense than any of the others. Stuff you don’t want running, just select the column, and then hit ‘Disable’. A bit of caution is advised, though: if you don’t know what it does, leave it alone. Some of this stuff has to start for your computer to work right.

3. Defragment

We’re done with CCleaner. You can close out of it now. Open up Defraggler. You installed it earlier, right? Good.

Focus on the top first. Defraggler Disc List Select your main disc (probably C:) from the drive list, and click the ‘Analyze’ button in the lower left. This one takes a while, and I’m going to emphatically recommend that you go read a book or something while it runs – defragmenting slows down everything. When it’s done, if your drive comes in as being more than, say, seven percent fragmented, I would hit the ‘Defragment’ button. It’s next to the analyze button.


Thanks for reading! Hopefully this gets your computer running a bit better. Somebody remind me to do a post about how to tinker with your settings to get maximum performance, for gaming or such things.