Speed Up Your Computer!

I remember the days of the 8088 computers with their 8mhz processors. I could turn it on, go back into the house, eat breakfast return to the garage and it was just finishing booting up. Does your computer feel like it’s that slow?

A really slow computer can make you grind teeth while squirming in their chair; yes indeed it certainly can. With today’s faster computers though you wouldn’t think this would be a problem but it is. However, the problem is not really the computer but rather the user’s ignorance of simple computer maintenance procedures.

Having worked at a Cable/High Speed Internet provider for nearly 5 years I can tell you the majority of my calls were from very angry customer who blamed their slow computer on the Internet service they were receiving. That call’s mission was to then help the customer understand the real source after leading them through simple trouble shooting procedures to eliminate their broadband as the culprit in their dilemma. Afterward, though the customer would almost beg us to fix the issue, we would recommend the customer contact their computer tech person. The heart break was that most of them had no one they used for their computer service tech.

This article is to suggest a working format that a novice can follow to give a boost to their computer’s performance and surfing on the Internet. This article is intended for Windows XP, Vista and Windows7 users. Users of Windows 2000 can apply some of these procedures. Some procedures won’t apply to Vista or Win7 because Microsoft ‘fixed’ that issue. All procedures will work on Windows XP both Home and Pro. Let’s get started.

First, you should make a list of two things:

  • 1. 1. What is the Internet security program you are running on your computer?

This is necessary because all too often the Internet Security Program is out of subscription (expired) and viruses have invaded the computer. If this is the case and you don’t have the $50 to $70 to buy off the shelf, then first check with your ISP to see if they offer a free solution that may have come with your Internet account.

If they don’t offer a free Security Program then you can check the internet for free ones. You can search under “free antivirus software” to get a list.

  • 2. 2. Are you running a 3rd party firewall on your computer?

It may not seem like a big deal but adding an extra firewall to your system can and will slow down your computer. Even though your Windows’ firewall is ‘turned off’ a conflict still occurs in the computer. I never recommend installing a secondary firewall when the Windows’ firewall works just fine. If you do have one installed; uninstall it from your system and allow Windows to use its own firewall.

If the above is true, uninstall the firewall for certain. If the Anti-virus software is out of date and you don’t want it any more (price, worthless to begin with, etc — ) uninstall it.

Now, don’t attempt to install a new version until you have done the following:

  • 1. Check your “start up” programs. Over time many programs build up in the start-up file and launch every time you boot up your computer. These programs take up valuable resources and memory in the computer that could be used to run wanted programs e.g. Internet Browsers, word processors, etc —
  • 2. Check your virtual memory. By default, Windows XP has a hard number coded and the computer cannot exceed it. What is “virtual memory” you ask? When the ‘real’ memory of the computer gets full, it needs ‘write’ what it knows in order to recall that info later so it can get more info to process programs and data for you.

Think of it like this: I give you a sheet of paper to write a string of numbers on and I start telling you the numbers. Your brain ‘real memory’ can only retain so many numbers and then needs to start writing them down on the paper. Since I only gave you one sheet of paper, I have limited how many numbers you can write down because I have ‘hard coded’ the space in which you can write these numbers on, just like limiting the amount of space you can use from your hard drive. If though, I gave you as many tablets of paper that you needed, you could use as many or as few as you needed for each job. We are going to remove that limitation from your computer.

  • 3. Configure your browser. This procedure covers Internet Explorer but the method can be applied to other browsers.
  • 4. Clean your registry errors. The computer has to keep track of every file and file fragment on the hard drive. But not only the fragments that reside on the hard drive but also in the registry there are entries that cause the computer to look for things that may no longer exist. The computer may look many times for these non-existent files, fragments, and no longer existing programs (uninstalled programs are not always completely removed from the hard drive). When it does and cannot find them it can take up valuable CPU time.

Now don’t worry, there are very good free programs out there that can do this for you. You just need to download them and install them on your computer.

5. Clean the ‘temp’ files from the hard drive. Time and again users’ browsers are pulling up old web pages that have been written to the hard drive. These ‘temp’ files are intended to speed up your browsing but if left unchecked can take up lots of hard drive space. Your browser then may be pulling ‘old’ web pages instead of fresh ones direct from the Internet.

  • 6. Defragment the system hard drive (Drive C). Files and other data are constantly being written to and erased from your hard drive/s. Before long, the data needed to operate the computer becomes ‘fragmented’ and the read-write heads in the hard drive has to jump and skip all over the platen (disc) in the hard drive to retrieve the data. By ‘defragmenting’ the hard drive, all this data is re-written in a contiguous pattern so the read-write heads only need to move a small amount on the platen to retrieve the same data thus the performance of the drive increases.

Doing the steps to improve performance

STEP 1: Check the start up folder.

1a. On the lower left corner of your keyboard between the [ctrl] and the [alt] keys is the Windows’ key. Press and hold it down. While holding it down; press and release the letter [R] key. Then release the Windows’ key.

1b. After erasing anything that may already be there type “MSCONFIG” in the white field and press the [enter] key. A box with several TABS along the top will appear, one TAB will be labeled “Startup.”

1c.Left-Click the startup tab with the mouse pointer. Here you will see lots of check marks, each checked program launches every time you turn on your computer. None of these programs are required to RUN your computer. Left-Click on “Disable All” and all the checks will disappear. Later if you wish you can re-enable any program you actually want to run when you start Windows.

1d.Click the “Apply” button, then the “Close” button and finally the “Close without restarting” button.

STEP 2: Check the virtual memory.

2a. On the lower left corner of your keyboard between the [ctrl] and the [alt] keys is the Windows’ key. Press and hold it down. While holding it down; press and release the letter [R] key. Then release the Windows’ key.

2b. Erase anything that may already be typed there, then type “Sysdm.cpl” in the white field and click the “Ok” button. On the dialog box that opens up click the “Advanced” TAB and then click the first “Settings” button located in the “Performance” group.

2c. The first TAB is “Visual Effects.” Except for the 10th, 11th and last box I have the rest unchecked.

2d. Click the “Advanced” TAB and then click the “Change” button.

2e. If you have only one hard drive then only the “C” drive will be highlighted in the top box. Click on the white circle that is to the left of the “System Managed Size” label and then click the “Set” button.

2f. Click on the “OK” button. When you do a dialog box telling you that the changes you made require a reboot of the computer before they can take affect; click the “OK” button. Click the “OK” button on two more boxes and then the “OK” button to reboot your computer.

2g. When your computer reboots another dialog box opens with an empty check box that says “do not show this box again.” Click the little box and a check mark will appear; then click the “close” button.

Your computer by now should be showing better performance.

STEP 3: Configure your browser.

3a. The assumption here is that you are using Internet Explorer 6, 7 or 8. This method will work for any browser but the steps and menus used herein are only for Internet Explorer.

3b.Open Internet Explorer (IE) and then from the menu area click on “Tools.” If you don’t see the “Tools” menu selection, then press and hold the [alt] key and while holding it press the letter [T] key and the menu will drop down (release the [alt] key).

3c. At the bottom of the menu, click on “Internet options” and a new dialog box will open up.

3d.Click on the “Connections” TAB.

3e. In the top box there should be nothing listed if 1. You have a desktop computer and are using a broadband connection. It does not matter if it is named “broadband” it should not be there. 2. If this is a laptop computer and you don’t pay for a dialup connection it does not belong there. So, click and highlight each one and then click the “remove” button for each entry and click ok when it tells you you are about to remove the entry.

3f.Once this box is cleared look below it and you will a button labeled “LANsettings.” Click on this button one time. One the dialog box opens; uncheck every box. Yes, every box. Then, click the “Ok” button once.

3g. At the top right click on the “Advanced” TAB. Looking beneath the window with all the check marks you will see a button the will either say “Restore Default Settings” or “Restore Advanced Settings.” Click it ONE time. You will not ‘see’ anything happen because it happens in the background.

3h.Moving back up in the window, click and pull the scroll bar located on the right down until the gold ‘padlock’ appears on the left with the word “security” next to it.

3i. Counting the 4th or 7th box below the word “security” it says “Do not save encrypted pages to disk.” Click on that box and on the box directly below it “Empty Temporary file folders — ” and a check mark will appear in each box. Now go to the bottom right and click only on the “Apply” button one time.

3j. Go to the top and click on the “General” TAB. Look at the top box and be sure the web site address listed is THE site you want your browser to open to each time you open your browser. If not, erase what is in there and type the web site you want in its place.

3k.Once that is done, go to the bottom right and click on the “Apply” button if it is in BOLD first and then the “Ok” button.

3l.Close your Internet Explorer and then open it back up.

Your browser’s performance may be a little slow at first but should improve as you surf.

STEP 4: Clean your registry errors.

This step is very critical and should only be performed by persons knowing what they are doing. So, for those who do not know there is a solution! There are free programs available too open to each time you open your browser you on the net that will do this for you. The one I use and love is called “Ccleaner.” It is located on the web at www.ccleaner.com. Download and install it or one of your choosing.

The only thing I can add to this is that in the “Advanced” section (that is in the center column at the bottom) to check all but the 1st and last check box (That allows for the deepest cleaning). Once you run the tasks, run them till there are “no errors found.”

Follow the instructions for operating the program for the “Cleaner” and “Registry” selections that are located on the left column.

STEP 5: Remove the “TEMP” files from the hard drive.

5a. Click on the “Start” button, then go to “All Programs” then click on “Accessories” then “System Tools” and choose “Disk Cleanup.”

5b. Select the drive (typically the C Drive) you want to clean up.

5c. Check all boxes in list.

5d. Delete the files.

STEP 6: Defragment the System drive.

6a. Click on the “Start” button, then go to “All Programs” then “Accessories” then “System Tools” and choose “Disk Defragmenter.”

6b. Select the drive (typically the C Drive) you want to defragment.

6c. Click the “Defragment” button and let it run its course.

From time to time you should do some or all of the above steps to keep your computer running its very best. Other things you can do is to uninstall programs you no longer use, remove fonts you don’t use or install a “font manager” to limit the fonts that load into memory. All in all, there are many things you can do but overall these I have listed are the basics to keeping your computer running with a better performance.