If your PC started out lightning-fast and now moves at half the speed of molasses, you will need to take action. This does not mean you have to run out and throw money at the problem by buying an SSD or more RAM or a new processor. You probably have overloaded the system to the point that it cannot perform the way it once did.
The best bet, before running out and spending a ton on new hardware, is to clean out Windows and your system. Here are the top offenders that may just be sapping your speed.
Each time you boot up a Windows operating system, the OS loads in additional programs. These programs can add up, whether it is a single large autoloader or many little ones, they all can be draining your system resources.
Many of these autoloader program are not necessary to everyday PC use and can be enabled or disabled at will, with little to no degrading of productivity. The trick is finding them and picking the right program to disable.
- Windows Xp/Vista/7 - To get started disabling unwanted autoloader programs, you will first need to click the Start button, type msconfig, and then press the Enter key. This will bring up the System Configuration panel. Select the Startup tab and then choose the programs that need to be disabled. When you find one, you can disable them by unchecking the box on the left-hand side.
- Windows 8 - To get started disabling unwanted autoloader programs in Windows 8, you will first need to right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager. In the Task Manager panel that appears, select the Startup tab. This will show you the list of auto-loading programs, providing you with the ability to right-click on any entry to Disable it.
Processing and memory hogs
It is a sad reality that many programs sold today are not optimized or written as well as they should be. This can lead to programs and processes that use more system resources than they should, slowing your PC down.
The best way to observe your programs and processes in action is through the Task Manager. To access the Task Manager interface, simply right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. From this interface you can select both the Processes tab and the Memory tab to gauge the amount of resources each program and process is using. You will also be able to End Process here as well, but you should be wary of stopping any process or program that you do not recognize or understand.
Just as some programs can be written poorly, so can some malware. This is most likely not the case, as malware should be designed to operate unnoticed by a user, but it is possible if you have not run a scan in a while.
For those of us still running an older version of Windows, like Vista and Windows 7, we have to also worry about a resource hog hiding in the OS: Aero. Aero is a technology used by Microsoft that improved the look of its operating system screen during use. Aero is not necessary and it will slow down an average PC significantly. Disable it.
The easiest way to disable Windows Aero in Vista and Windows 7 is to access your Control Panel, select Performance Information and Tools, and then choose Adjust Visual Effects. In the mew interface, select Adjust for best performance. This will disable Aero and increase your overall PC performance.