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sulci’s Guide to Keeping your Computer Fast

April 16, 2010 Technology 1 Comment

Waiting 5 minutes for Firefox to start up is never fun

Keeping your computer running fast is always important, especially for gamers. Let me take you on a speedy walkthrough of my weekly computer cleansing ritual that keeps my PC quick and healthy. I’ll show you some tips and tricks to keeping your computer running optimized without having to pay for any software.

Step 1: Uninstall programs you know you never use
Come on people, this isn’t that hard. Haven’t played WoW in a year and a half? Just uninstall it! You can download it (for free) later! Never use that free audio editing software you tried out 6 months ago? Get rid of it! You can always download it (for free) later! Uninstalling useless shit off your hard drive is definitely one of the best ways to keep your computer running efficiently.

There is no use holding on to old programs you never use and can readily reinstall them again if you suddenly need them again. Don’t forget to delete the install files as well, if you have them.

Step 2: Remove unnecessary system files & restore points
The next thing I do to make sure my computer is running fast is remove any extra data that I don’t need. Freeing up space on your hard drive will ensure your computer will be running super fast. To do this, simply go to the Disk Cleanup tool in your Control Panel. After it’s calculated how much it can clean off your computer, switch to the More Options tab. At the bottom there will be a System Restore Clean Up button, which will remove all but the most recent restore point. Go ahead and run that. After it’s finished, go back to the Disk Cleanup tab and check everything off and hit Okay.

Step Three: Clean out your registry
Your registry is just a huge database that your system, programs, and devices use to store different bits of information. Now that you’ve uninstalled that crap you never use, cleaning up your registry means that unused or corrupted registry data that was left behind gets taken out.

Some might call cleaning your registry unnecessary, I however think you might as well do it. Cleaning up stray DLLs and reg files might not give a great performance boost if you do it regularly, but I’m sure these little problems add up over time. As you install and uninstall programs or devices often they don’t automatically clean themselves up. Check out this great Lifehacker article for more information.

If you do choose to clean out your registry from time to time, make sure to back it up, either by creating a System Restore Point or using a program that will back it up automatically, like CCleaner.

Step Four: Check your startup settings
When you first turn your computer on, your system can sometimes crawl because a large number of programs are starting up at once. You want to minimize the number of programs that autostart.

To check what programs are run automatically at startup run msconfig.exe. Click Start -> Run -> and then type msconfig.exe. Switch to the startup tab and uncheck any unnecessary or suspicious looking executables.

Step Five: Defragging
The last thing I do is make sure my computer is defragged. Over time, data on your harddrive gets added, removed, and moved around. Defragging simply optimizes where the data on your hard drive is located, so that your computer can access it faster. Windows7 has a nice, quick defragger that you can schedule regularly. The built-in defrag tools on Vista and older Window OSes are super slow and I recommend you download a free defragger like Defraggler or Auslogics Disk Defrag.

Here are a few extra tips:

Make sure your computer virus scanner only runs when you aren’t using it
This may seem like a no-brainer, but some people aren’t aware that this could cause a system slowdown. If you run your virus scanner regularly, don’t set it to run when you know you’ll be on your computer. Set it to 5am Wednesday morning, just make sure you leave your PC on the night before. Having it run can drop your frame rates in-game tremendously, and hog a ton of CPU. There is no need for you to ever be around when it runs.

Every so often check for Spyware and Adware
Sometimes when you browse the internet, regardless of the browser, you may pickup spyware or adware. SpyBot is a great, free program to get rid of these malicious files, although I recommend leaving TeaTimer and SDHelper OFF for optimal performance. You don’t need to run Spybot as often as the other system clean up tools, once every couple of months should be more than enough. Unless you look at a ton of pron.

Install a browser plug-in like NoScript
Speaking of pron, if you regularly visit sketchy sites or do a lot of online shopping or banking, it might be wise to install something like NoScript, which automatically turns off any scripts or flash until you approve them. While this won’t speed up your performance directly, having this installed will prevent any unknown scripts from running in your browser, ensuring that you won’t get hijacked by any malicious netcrap. It take a little while to get used to approving your regular and trusted sites, but after using it for a few weeks you won’t even notice it. An added bonus is it blocks a lot of (but not all) advertisements.

Don’t pay for any computer optimization tools
Because someone out there makes a better one for free. Let me know your favorites programs in the comments below and I can add them.

This concludes my handy Computer Optimization Guide. I try to do the main five steps once every week, and encourage you to do the same. If your computer is still running dismally slow after following these tips, it’s probably time to upgrade your hardware or reinstall a fresh copy of your OS.

Images: Windows 7. Copyright Microsoft.

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