Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How to optimize your computer

Everyone knows that computers can sometimes slow down over time. While not an exhaustive list of solutions to problems, this collection presents several ways to speed up a computer. These step-by-step instructions can easily be followed; even novice computer users can follow these steps. The steps are intended for Windows XP users, but users of other Windows versions can follow a similar process.

1. Defrag Your Hard Drive
Over time, the data on your hard drive gets scattered. Disk Defragmenter consolidates fragmented files and folders on your computer's hard disk, so that each occupies a single, contiguous space on the volume. As a result, your system can gain access to your files and folders and save new ones more efficiently. By consolidating your files and folders, Disk Defragmenter also consolidates the volume's free space, making it less likely that new files will be fragmented. Defragmenting your hard drive puts your data back into sequential order, making it easier for Windows to access it As a result, the performance of your computer will improve.

2. Scan Your Hard Disk
Has your computer ever crashed, making it impossible to shut it down properly? Have you ever experienced a power outage? These problems and others can cause damage to your system files. Windows provides a utility called scandisk that will automatically detect and fix much of the damage, improving your system's performance in the process.

3. Scan for Viruses
In today's computing world, you must prevent intentional intrusions into your computer and network that take the form of viruses and Trojan horses. Detecting and cleaning viruses is an excellent way to improve your system's performance. Educate yourself about viruses and how they are commonly spread. Learn the common signs of viruses: unusual messages that appear on your screen, decreased system performance, missing data, and inability to access your hard drive. If you notice any of these problems on your computer, run your virus-detection software immediately to minimize the chances of losing data.

4. Increasing the virtual memory
Virtual memory, also known as Page File memory, uses a portion of your hard disk and acts like RAM allowing more information to be used and made at one time. It stores data about programs while your computer is running, and dumps it as needs be. Open the control panel and double-click the System icon, go to the Advanced tab. By clicking the ‘Change’ button will allow you to increase your virtual memory. Look for performance and click the settings button. Go to advanced and click change. Then choose your hard disk drive from the list and choose custom size. Set the sizes accordingly to however much page file your computer uses (1024MB is best as an initial size). Once finished, press ‘Set’ and ‘OK’
You should not set your maximum size larger than double the minimum setting, otherwise too much space may be used on your hard drive leaving you nothing left.

5. Check for Spyware and Adware
Spyware is software that allows companies to monitor what websites you visit or even access your computer. Adware is software that displays advertisements. Both use system resources and slow your computer down. Detecting and removing the programs will improve system performance.

6. Using Disk Cleanup
Disk Cleanup helps free up space on your hard drive. Disk Cleanup searches your drive, and then shows you temporary files, Internet cache files, and unnecessary program files that you can safely delete. You can direct Disk Cleanup to delete some or all of those files. Uninstalling/Removing programs that you no longer use can free up space on your computer and speed up your system's performance. However, you need to uninstall the programs properly to see much improvement; deleting them is not enough. And make sure you know what your deleting coz if you don’t it will give you much more problem at the end.

7. Adjust Visual Effects for Better Performance
Windows XP provides a number of interesting visual effects like animated windows and fading menus. These effects, however, can slow down your computer. If you like the style of the old Windows Classic themes, you should follow this step to enable your computer to be faster. Sure it’ll looks like an older version of windows, but at least your computer will improve its performance. Going to Control Panel, then System then click Advanced tab. Look for performance and click the settings button. In Visual Effects tab select the option to “Adjust for best performance” and press apply.

8. Stop Programs from starting on Windows boot
One way you can speed up your computer is to prevent programs from launching themselves at start-up. Not only do the unwanted programs delay the start of Windows, they also continue to slow down your computer since they use system resources.