Even the best computers slow down over time. Unnecessary files, never-used programs and programs running in the background consume valuable resources. However, this quick 5 step guide can help speed your computer back up.
1. Clean up your hard drive
Disk Cleanup will delete downloaded program files, temporary Internet files, items in your Recycle Bin and temporary files. Windows XP's version of Disk Cleanup also deletes offline Web pages and compresses rarely used files.
Click Start, (All) Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Cleanup. Select the drive you want to clean (it most likely will be C:) and click OK. Place a check mark next to the items you want deleted and click OK.
You also can remove Windows components that you don't use. Start Disk Cleanup and click the More Options tab. Click "Clean up" under Windows components. You can remove games, accessories and other nonessential Windows components.
The More Options tab also allows Windows XP users to clear old Restore Points. These files, which allow you to recover from errors after installing hardware or software, hog space over time. Just click the "Clean up" button under System Restore and then Yes.
2. Clear up some hard drive space.
No matter how big your hard drive, it will slow down once it reaches 90% capacity. Free up valuable space by removing unused programs. Click Start, Control Panel (in Windows 98/ME, Start, Settings, Control Panel). Double-click Add or Remove Programs.
If you have Windows XP, you'll see the size of the program, how often it's used and the date it was last used. This is helpful information, but you shouldn't use it exclusively when determining whether to keep or trash a program. You might use some critical programs only occasionally.
Click the program you want to remove and then click Change/Remove (in Windows 98/ME, click Add/Remove).
When uninstalling programs, you may encounter a message asking if you want to remove a shared component. Select "no to all." These files are small and may be necessary for other programs to operate properly.
3. Reduce startup times
Instant messaging programs, media players and other programs weasel their way into automatically starting when Windows loads. They slow down your boot time and guzzle system resources.
You can stop these programs from launching automatically by clicking Start and Run. Type "msconfig" without the quotes and click OK. Click the Startup tab.
You'll see a number of programs listed. Some names are easy to figure out. But most are difficult to decipher. You can find a list of entries and explanations at sysinfo.org/startuplist.php.
Clear the boxes for the programs you don't need. Click Apply and OK. You'll be prompted to restart your computer.
After restarting, you'll receive a message stating that the System Configuration Utility is in Diagnostic or Selective Startup mode. Check the box next to "don't show this message again" and click OK.
Fragmentation occurs when the operating system cannot or will not allocate enough contiguous space to store a complete file as a unit, but instead puts parts of it in gaps between other files (usually those gaps exist because they formerly held a file that the operating system has subsequently deleted or because the operating system allocated excess space for the file in the first place). This fragmentation causes your hard drive to run slower and fragmentation will build after time.
To Defragment your hard drive, open up "My Computer", Right Click on C:, Click properties, Click the "Tools" Tab, Click "Defragment Now", Click Defragment, click ok.
5. Use Windows Search
The last tip to speed up a slow computer is another simple tip. Find and remove large files through Windows' search function. Click Start, Search, All files and folders. Then click on the arrow next to "What size is it?" Click Large, Search.
You'll probably find forgotten video, music or zip files. You also might find data files from games you no longer play. If you're unsure of the nature of a file, conduct a google search using its name or extension.