Everyone wants a faster computer, but not everyone can afford to beef up the parts to make it that way. While upgrading the hardware is by far the best way to increase your computer’s speed, there are some things you can do to make it a little quicker without spending a dime or messing with the computer’s guts. Here are just a few ways to do that.
The primary culprit behind a slow computer is a program running that doesn’t need to be. Most of the time, a pre-assembled computer will come with a bunch of unnecessary junk that’s always running and taking up resources (“bloatware”). To get rid of this, and anything else that slows down the system, the best thing to do is uninstall the program completely if you’re sure that you won’t need it. The easiest way to do this is through the “Add/Remove Program” or “Uninstall a Program” feature in the Control Panel (it will be called something different, depending on which version of Windows you have). Hit the Start button, click Control Panel, and under the Programs heading, click on “Uninstall a program” or “Add/Remove Programs.” You’ll see a list of all the programs on your computer. Click on the one you don’t want, then click Uninstall, and follow the prompts from there to get rid of the program. You can repeat this process to remove multiple programs.
However, if you want to keep a program but just don’t want it running all the time and slowing down your computer, you’ll need to make some changes so that it doesn’t automatically start when you turn the computer on. To see a list of programs that start automatically, click on the Start button, and in the search box near the bottom, type “msconfig” (without quotes) and hit Enter. (Users with XP and older versions: Click the “Run” command in the start menu, then type “msconfig” in the box.) This will bring up the System Configuration box. Click on the “Startup” tab and you’ll see everything that starts automatically. Find the program you want to keep from running, and disable it. In Windows 7, uncheck the box next to the program; for earlier versions, click the program, and then click the Disable button. You can repeat this for as many programs as you’d like, but make sure they’re not system-essential programs. As a general rule, you should leave anything that says “Microsoft” alone. The next time you start up the computer, you should notice a significant decrease in the amount of time you have to wait before you can do anything, as well as improved speed overall.
One small feature to check if you’re running Windows XP, Vista, or 7 on a laptop, is the power plan that your computer is set at. By default, Windows automatically sets it to the “Balanced” plan, which means that you get better battery life on a laptop since the system isn’t working so hard. However, if you’re using a desktop computer or have your laptop plugged in, you’re not concerned about battery life, so you can tell the system to run faster. Go to Start, then Control Panel, then Hardware and Sound. Click on “Power Options,” and you’ll see a screen that lists a few power plans. It’s probably set on “Balanced” already, so click the radio button next to “High performance” to switch to that plan. You’ll see faster speeds overall with no further changes needed.
Last of all, you should make sure that your computer isn’t running slowly because of a virus or other malicious software. There are hundreds of anti-virus programs out there, so if you don’t already have one, be sure to install one immediately and clean up your computer. Some of the most popular free programs include AVG, Avast, and the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool. You can invest in a paid program like Norton or McAfee if it makes you feel better, but for the most part, there’s little difference between them and their free counterparts.