Lots of people complain about how slow their computer runs, but don't know what to do about it short of buying a new one. Before you go out and spend a lot of money on a new PC, try some of these fixes:
Run a full system scan using your anti-virus software. See Tech Tip #1 on free or low-cost anti-virus solutions>> Before you run the scan, be sure that your virus definitions are up to date. A full system scan will check for and remove any malware (spyware) that will slow you down.
Run the the Disk Cleanup and Disk Defragmenter utilities (found under all programs / accessories / system tools). The disk cleanup will remove temporary Internet files, recycle bin contents, old downloaded program installers and other unneccessary files. Then the disk defragmenter will consolidate all of the remaining information into neat blocks so that your computer doesn't have to search all over the drive to piece together your fragmented files.
Run the "Error Checking" utility. Right-click a drive icon in "My Computer" and select "Properties," click on the "Tools" tab then click "Check Now." The error-checking utility scans your drives for damaged files that will slow down your computer.
Shut down and restart your computer. Many people leave their computers running all of the time. If you do this, turn it off once in a while. Some programs won't release the memory they use until you shut off the computer. These programs will use some of your RAM (defined below) even when you're not using the program!
Remove unnecessary programs and files if your hard drive is close to full. Check how much space is available on your hard drive by opening My Computer, right click on Local Disk C (or D, or F — whichever you use) and choose "properties." If your free space is less than 10% of your total space, you need to get to work! Remove programs you don't use any more by going to the Control Panel and using the Add/Remove Programs utility. When you install programs, they connect to your operating system and, even if you're not using them, they can slow down the computer. Remove old files by deleting them or backing them up on another device — see Tech Tip #7 for ideas on back up media.
Be sure you have adequate RAM (random access memory) installed. Let's first use a car metaphor to explain how RAM works: You can think of RAM as the spark plugs in your engine (the computer's processor) and hard drive space as the trunk of the car. If you don't have enough spark plugs, your car will not perform to its highest potential (if it even starts at all). You can have the largest trunk or the smallest trunk, and it won't affect how fast the car goes (unless it's too full, but you took care of that in the step above). This is the same with hard drive space — you might have a 500GB hard drive, but if you only have 1MB of RAM, you'll be able to pack all of your family's belongings to go on vacation, but it will take you longer to get there than you have to enjoy your vacation!
Now, back to RAM. You can check how much you have by clicking on the "start" button, right click on Computer or My Computer, then choose "properties." At the bottom of the screen that pops up, under "Computer," it lists your processor (Intel Pentium 4 CPU 3.00 GHZ) and your RAM (1.99 GB of RAM). If the total number listed for RAM (1.99) is smaller than the total listed for processor speed (3.00 GHz), then you probably want to get more RAM. Even if the RAM number isn't smaller, you should still check to see if you can install more — more is better!
Bring your computer to your local computer repair shop, or to one of the big-box electronic stores and they'll do it for you. Or, do it yourself! It's a really easy process and entails three steps:
(Sorry, these are "for dummies" articles — no offense intended.)
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