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Patrick Marshall and Seattle tech users tackle the marvels and frustrations of software, hardware, devices and the online world.

Ways to speedup a computer

Postby whiteknight on Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:44 pm

Hey Patrick

Thanks for all the help on computer problems and moderating this forum... but could you briefly run through all the ways to speed up my computer again.

I've tried all the common things: defrag, clean the hard-drive, even running some anti-malware programs but nothing seems to help my once speedy VAIO regain it's lost zip. I'm running XP ...and thanks again for all of your help in the past.
 
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Re: Ways to speedup a computer

Postby patrickmarshall on Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:53 am

To a degree, the best way to speed up a computer depends upon the computer. If your computer is short on memory, for example, adding memory will likely result in major performance gains. If you've already got a lot of memory, it won't.

Also, as a starter, check the system requirements for your operating system and make sure everything is up to snuff. If you've upgraded to a new OS, it may be that your hardware isn't keeping up with those requirements.

With that in mind, the most common ways I've found to improve performance on most computers are:

1. Adding memory.
2. Defragging the hard drive.
3. Making sure there's enough free disk space. A (much debated) rule of thumb is that you should have 100 percent to 200 percent of free disk space compared to the amount of RAM in your computer. If you've got 4 gigabytes of RAM you should have 4-8 gigabytes of free disk space.
4. Clean off the hard drive and reinstall. This will help with disk space and will also get rid of applications and drivers you may no longer be using that may be dragging down resources.
5. Make sure you don't have a virus or other malware.

Other forum members may have found other ways to boost performance. If so, please let us know.
 
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Re: Ways to speedup a computer

Postby barnac1e on Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:47 pm

6. Remove unnecessary resident memory programs, notably ones that show up in the system tray. Many minor applications, like Adobe Acrobat and Apple QuickTime make the arrogant and erroneous presumption that each is your most important application, and install desktop icons, quick launch icons, and resident memory programs that display in the system tray. Unless you are launching QuickTime movies, or PDFs, one after the other, day in and day out, you will see no practical benefit from having the resident memory program running, nor is it even necessary to have a quick launch or desktop icon for these.

Many CD/DVD writing applications install an item in the system tray to detect when a disc is inserted in the drive, which is really quite pointless because it's not going to happen by accident; you will know when you stick a disc in there.

Most video cards install system tray icons, but unless you're always fiddling with your video settings, you're only saving a couple clicks to launch, as those settings are readily available by right-clicking on the desktop and choosing "Properties" from the bottom of the context-sensitive menu.

Reserve the system tray icons primarily for monitoring processes that change in real-time through no personal volition, i.e., operating system update notification, certain application update notifications (others can be left to manual processes), network status, instant messaging status, motherboard temperature monitoring, anti-virus software, and firewall software, and for those applications that you use frequently enough to gain benefit from the "boost" of the resident memory portion, either because of faster launch or eliminating launch steps, such as the volume control.
 
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Re: Ways to speedup a computer

Postby patrickmarshall on Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:33 pm

All good suggestions. Thanks.
 
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Re: Ways to speedup a computer

Postby J_W on Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:58 pm

Recently I spent a fair amount of time searching the Internet and reading up on suggestions and tips to speed up my 5 year old Dell desktop computer, which was becoming noticeably slower to boot up and to open up e-mails.

I did everything that I knew how to do easily, such as defrag, compressing files, cleaning up the registry, disabling the many hidden start-up programs that are not needed, run "MSCONFIG" to disable some more unneeded programs, also killed several unneeded toolbars that had sneaked in with stuff that I had downloaded through the years, etc, in other words, removing all the extra baggage that was causing my CPU to work overtime, thereby crippling the booting up and surfing the Internet.

YouTube has many video tutorials that helped me tremendously. Just type in words like "how to speed up computer xp" or "how to make computer faster xp."

Thanks to YouTube, I gathered the courage to open my computer and I actually added 1 GB Ram myself. (NOTE: The very first thing you do - UNPLUG the cord!!!) Anyway, my 5 year old baby is now running like it's brand new, its RAM jacked up from 512mb to 1.5GB.

The same YouTube video clip that helped me to rejuvenate my Dell desktop also mentions that it's even easier to increase the RAM on laptops.
 
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Re: Ways to speedup a computer

Postby patrickmarshall on Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:17 am

It might be easier to add RAM on some laptops than on some desktops, but be aware that in most cases you'll pay a bit more for the privilege. And most laptops are more limited in the amount of memory you can add.
 
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Re: Ways to speedup a computer

Postby Speedball on Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:27 pm

Though I'm told newer versions are much better, I've always had problems with Norton sapping performance (it also tends to poke its sticky little fingers into just about any activity you do on the Net -- this comes with a performance cost). If you're running Norton, try disabling or uninstalling it to see if you notice any improvement.
 
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Re: Ways to speedup a computer

Postby patrickmarshall on Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:59 am

And it's not just Norton AV. Antivirus software in general can drag performance.
 
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Re: Ways to speedup a computer

Postby MatteoTom on Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:01 pm

I find that Microsoft Security Essentials has very little affect on performance. And it's free :)
http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/
 
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Re: Ways to speedup a computer

Postby Speedball on Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:16 pm

I've got Microsoft Security Essentials running on five machines (all running Win 7). Seems to be behaving itself with minimal drag on performance. It's done a good job keeping my 16 year old son (you can imagine the sites he visits) from getting into trouble. Have others also had good luck with it?
 
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