Simple and effective ways to increase computer speed - Part One

by Tyler Gibbs | 2009-12-17

Computers typically slow over time as result of one, or a combination of the following reasons: spyware/adware residing on your computer, insufficient system resources, unnecessary programs installed, unused network drives, out of date drivers, lack of RAM, large amount of temporary files, recycle bin, cluttered registry, etc.

Indentifying the exact problem can be a time-consuming process and require an advanced degree of technical acumen. Fortunately for most users, there are helpful tools that address many of these common causes and prevent many symptoms of an aging computer.

Before making any significant changes to your computer, it is always considered a safe practice to create a backup/restore point beforehand. To perform this task, Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Backup (Windows XP).

Remove Unnecessary Applications
The first step to increasing your computer speed is to free resources used by unnecessary applications.

Follow the steps below to do this:
1) Click Start, and then click Control Panel.
2) Click Add or Remove Programs
3) Scroll through the list of programs and carefully examine each of them. Windows indentifies which programs you use frequently which is also a good indicator of which programs should not be removed. When you have identified programs you would like removed, select the program then click the Remove button. Items labeled as an Update or Hotfix should not be removed because they improve the security of your computer.

Free Wasted Disk Space
Removing unused programs is a great way to free up disk space, which will speed up your computer. Another way to find wasted disk space is to use the Disk Cleanup tool by following these steps:

1) Open My Computer, right-click Local Disk, and then click Properties.
2) On the General tab, click the Disk Cleanup button. Disk Cleanup will spend a few minutes examining your disk.
3) The Disk Cleanup dialog box opens.
4) Select the desired check boxes in the Files to Delete list, and then click OK. Disk Cleanup will spend several minutes clearing space.
5) If you have more than one hard disk, repeat this process for each hard disk listed in My Computer.

Disconnect Unused Network Connections
If you've ever had a network with more than one computer, you probably found it useful to share files between the computers by mapping a network drive. Network drives allow one computer to read and write files to another computer's hard disk as if it were directly connected. I use network drives all the time, and for me, they were the most significant source of slowness.

The problem with network drives is that they will attempt to connect to the network drives when Windows starts. If the remote computers don't respond immediately, Windows will wait patiently. Additionally, some programs will attempt to connect to the network drives when you browse for files and folders. If you've ever tried to open a file and had to wait several seconds (or minutes!), it's probably because the program was trying to establish a network connection-even if the file you are opening is on your local computer.

I am not as patient as Windows, and I'd rather not wait for unused network connections to respond. To reduce this problem, disconnect any unused drives by following these steps:

1) Open My Computer
2) On the Tools menu, click Disconnect Network Drive
3) Select the network drives that you no longer need, and click OK

The next steps you can take to drastically increase your computer speed can be performed manually but it is Strongly Discouraged. Manual editing of your computer registry that is performed improperly can result in an inoperable computer and cost hundreds to repair.

Applications such as Registry Serve (RegServe) can simplify the steps below, and can be downloaded from the internet at anytime.(Click Here to Download)

Defragment Your Computer (Physical Registry Deframentation)
Registry is stored in usual files on disk, i.e. C:\Windows\System32\Config\Software. And as any files that tend to grow, these files may become fragmented over time if disk space is low or if there are lots of small rapidly changing files.

Fragmentation of registry files may pose serious performance problems. Tens to thousands requests per second are made to registry, and even though it is cached in RAM, system still has to synchronize HDD files with representation in memory.

To defragment your computer with RegServe, please follow the steps below:
1) Open RegServe
2) Click on the Registry Scan tab
3) Click on the Start Defragmentation button
Because the defragmentation process requires your computer to reboot, it is important that you do not have any other applications running.

Clean Your Computer Registry
The Windows registry is a database of all the information about the computer and the software installed on the computer. The main purpose of the Windows registry is to store the configuration of the different software programs installed on the computer, the hardware installed or attached to the computer, and any other special settings the user has implemented.

Registry Serve identifies potential registry errors within fifteen (15) areas of the registry. Registry Serve performs this task by checking your computers registry for empty registry keys, invalid file/path references, duplicate entries, orphaned entries, partial uninstalls, system drivers, unused startup items, browser info, temporary files, etc.

Using 3rd party tools such as RegServe, you can easily scan your computer for registry errors:
1) Click on the Registry Scan
2) Click on the Start Scan button
3) Review ignore list for items you would like overlooked.
4) Click on the Fix Errors button

Manage Startup Items
The next step in restoring your computer's performance is to identify any unnecessary programs that start automatically. Often, programs configure themselves to run in the background so that they appear to start quickly when needed. Some of these programs show an icon on your taskbar to let you know that they're running, while others are completely hidden.

These autostart programs probably won't noticeably slow down your computer as it starts up, but they will steal away trace amounts of memory and processing time as your computer runs.

RegServe has a built-in Startup Manager that displays all applications that launch during startup. To manage your computers startup, follow the steps outlined below:

1) Click on the Startup Manager
2) Indentify and select applications to disable.
3) Click on the Disable button after selecting an application

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