speed-up-computerMany users complained that their PC was running slowly. Often when you install one program that you do want, you’ll be hit with another you don’t want. And very often that’s a browser toolbar, notorious for slowing down browsing. Another major culprit is fake system speedup software.

The first thing you’d love to do is head straight to the mall to choose a new computer. But the reality is there are easy changes you can make to speed up your computer. Here are less drastic fixes.

1. Turn off Startup Programs

PCs often come preloaded with software you’ll never use. And what’s worse, some of these programs run background processes at startup even though you’re not using them. To get rid of all this dreck, open Control Panels’ Programs and Features page, hunt trough the list of installed software, and uninstall those that are obviously not desirable, while being careful to leave stuff your system and hardware needs, things whose Publisher is listed as PC maker’s name, a peripheral’s company name, or Microsoft. Unfortunately, Microsoft removed the column showing how often you use programs in this list.

2. Clean Up Unnecessary Files on Your Computer

As you use your computer, files collect in all kinds of places. Windows and programs running in Windows create temporary files and log files. Files you have deleted may collect in the Recycle Bin, if you don’t empty it often. When you browse the internet, browsers create temporary files, sites put cookies on your computer, and the download history and form history grows. CCleaner can help you clean up your computer. You can set up CCleaner to automatically run on a schedule and you can also create a shortcut to run CCleaner quickly and silently.

3. Run Disk Cleanup

Windows includes a built-in disk de-cluttering tool: Disk Cleanup. This scans your system for unnecessary large files such as program installers, temporary Internet files, log files and more. On my system, the largest amount of data by far was taken up by Temporary File—2.5GB—that could mean the difference between a sluggish and a peppy PC. The folks behind the PC TuneUp utilities have posted a good case for disk space affecting performance, even calling it the #1 Performance Killer!

4. Clean Out Malware

This could be the most common reason for PCs slowing down. You went to a website, clicked a dubious Install button, and it was all downhill from there. Today’s malware can be very devious in using techniques to evade being cleaned out. The best thing for this is to run a PC anti-malware utility to cleanup infected PC, like those included with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, Norton 360, Webroot SecureAnywhere, or Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. In difficult cases, you may need to run a utility that starts at boot-up.

5. Defragment your hard drive

Your disk stores a file’s data in one or more chunks of space on the physical disk, regardless of whether the space is contiguous. Defragging tidies everything up and blocks a program’s bits together so that the reader heads don’t have to shuttle back and forth to read a whole executable or data file. While this is less of a problem with today’s huge hard drives and copious RAM, a slow system can still benefit from defragmenting the disk.

Windows 7 comes with a built-in defragger that runs automatically at scheduled intervals. Mine was set by default to run Wednesdays at 1:00 AM, when my PC is usually turned off; so it never got defragged. If you’re in a similar boat, you can either change the scheduled defrag, or defrag on demand. Just type “defrag” in the Windows Start Menu search bar, and click on “Disk Defragmenter.” The version of the utility is improved in Windows 7, and shows more information about what’s happening on your disk than Vista did.

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