How to Speed Up a Slow Computer
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How to Speed Up a Slow Computer

A slow computer can be really frustrating. This article shows 7 simple steps to
When a computer is running slow, simple operations that would normally take 3 seconds (like opening a Word document) takes a whole minute to load. This can be really frustrating and can affect productivity in a work setting. Lucky for us, there are several simple steps that can be taken to help speed up a sluggish computer system:

1) Uninstall Unused Programs and Disable Unnecessary Startup Programs

Too many programs installed on the computer take up precious space and can make your system run slow. To reduce the number of programs on your computer, go to Start Menu > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs (for XP or Vista users) or Programs and Features (for Windows 7 users). Uninstall non-essential programs you don't plan on using in the future, like an old version of software you've updated or a program (or computer game) you tried but didn't enjoy so much. To do this, just select the program and click the Remove button (for XP), or right-click the program and select Uninstall (Vista and Win 7). Be sure that you know what you’re uninstalling - you don't want to end up missing important programs. To be on the safe side always do a backup before doing uninstalls.

Startup programs are those that automatically run in the background whenever Windows starts up. A lot of these are really unnecessary and just take up precious memory. The easiest way to disable these is by using a program called Ccleaner( - it's free). Open the program, go to Tools, and select Startup. Pick out the programs you don't need to run in the background (like a program updater or a media helper), then click the "Disable" button on the right side. This doesn't delete or uninstall the program, but turns it off at startup.

2) Free Up Wasted Space

Dwindling disk space can also make your computer run slow. You can free this up by deleting old unnecessary files like temporary files, old log files, Recycle bin records and such. Ccleaner is a program that's mainly designed to do that task for you. In the default Cleaner window, just pick out the items you want to clean (default settings work fine), then hit "Run Cleaner". You'll be surprised to discover that you have hundreds of megabytes (or even gigabytes!) of space just lying around in your computer.

3) Adjust the Virtual Memory

When the computer is running out of system memory, Windows allocates part of the hard disk, called the paging file, to store memory data. This is what is called the virtual memory. A paging file that is too small or too big can both cause the computer to run slowly. As a general rule, it is best to set the size of your paging file to 1.5 times your RAM - for example, if you have 256 MB of RAM, your paging file should be 384 MB. To adjust the paging file size, go to Start > Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > System. Look for Performance under the Advanced tab, then click Settings. Under Virtual memory, click Change. Select the drive that contains the paging file, then click Custom size. Type the desired paging file size in megabytes (minimum and maximum) in the boxes, then click Apply and OK.

4) Adjust the Display Settings

Fancy visual effects like Windows Aero and animated windows also cost precious memory. To change this, go to Start > Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > System. Under the Advanced tab, look for Performance and click the Settings button beneath it. In the Performance Options window that appears, go to the Visual Effects tab, and select "Adjust for best performance". Then click OK.

5) Defragment Your Hard Drive

Over time, a computer's hard drive becomes heavily fragmented. Data and files are written on the drive in a non-contiguous manner, which makes accessing programs and files take longer. To defragment your drive, open My Computer, right-click the drive you want to defragment, click Properties, and under the Tools tab select Defragment. The Disk Defragmenter window will appear. In XP, you can click Analyze first to check if your drive really does need defragmenting. If a message appears and says that you should defragment the volume, pick Defragment Now. In Vista and Windows 7, just click Defragment Now. This might take long, so do this only when you don't plan to use the computer for a couple of hours at most.

6) Run a Virus Scan On Your Computer

Some types of computer viruses can clog up memory and really slow down the computer. The best way to resolve this is to update your antivirus program and run a full virus scan of your computer. It is also recommended to use an anti-rootkit program (like Sophos Anti-Rootkit, to detect and remove trickier types of viruses that hide deep in the computer's system. Anti-spyware programs (like Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, can also detect some types of viruses that cannot be detected by standalone antivirus software.

7) Upgrade or Add More Ram

Sometimes tweaking your computer's settings can only do so much, and the best thing to do is to add another RAM card or to replace your RAM with a higher-capacity one. If you're unsure how to do this, it is best to consult someone who knows how. The RAM card should be compatible with your computer's motherboard, or else it may lead to more computer problems. Proper precautions should also be followed when tinkering with the insides of the computer - you don't want to cause damage where there is none. Replacing RAM cards on laptops is especially more tricky.

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Comments (13)

Good advice

Great information.

Very helpful tips.

Nice tips! Thnx!

Thank you, Karina. This is very helpful to me. I need this instructions. Thank you, thank you. I will share this article so others could read this, too. This is very helpful. Nice. =)

Really nice article! I would add 8) Format your pc :)

These are useful tips and I'll use them to speed up my pc. Thanks!

Thanks everyone! In case you need a more detailed guide to item #6 (removing viruses from your computer), I just published a more detailed factoid about it here:

Excellent help for a technologically-challenged person like me! Thanks!


very useful, ty

This article is a great article to finish my tasks earlier. However, there are times that a slow computer are due to viruses running within the system. It is really important to ensure the speed and security of the entire computer system. Thanks for sharing this informative article, voted and shared.

Thank you so much Karina for sharing your knowledge on "how to speed up a slow computer".