There are various ways to streamline computer performance and functionality. I will show you five very helpful methods that I have learned in the field to help keep your computer running great. Some are free but there are some which will require a small investment which is well worth the cost. I have provided some links at the bottom of this article to help you decide what tools to invest in. This article is for Windows 2000/XP users only.
1. Cleanup your startup menu- This is perhaps the fastest way to improve overall performance and startup speed. To do this, go to the run command line in the start menu and type in msconfig. Please ONLY use the startup tab at the top!! Go through the list of startup programs and disable messengers, updaters, and applications that are not used at all times ie. (quick time task, winzip, iTunes helper). The rule of thumb here is disable what you know you don’t need and don’t touch anything you do not understand or recognize, they are most likely drivers and system files.
2. Run a disk defragment- If you notice that your applications are taking a long time to load or are not running as smooth as your used to run a disk defragment. This will basically organize your hard drive to run more efficiently. To run, go to your start menu, program files, accessories, system tools, Disk Defragmenter. Click the analyze button to see if you need to defragment and if you do, click the defragment button. Please note, while running this utility you should not make any system changes including saving and deleting files, installing and/or uninstalling programs or moving files on your hard drive. It is best to just start it and let it run. It can take up to 5 hours depending on the size of the drive and the amount of fragmentation in the volume. This is the easiest to start before you go to bed.
3. Use anti-virus- I can’t stress this enough, if you are on the internet you need anti-virus. Not only will it protect you from attacks but it will actively scan any files you open and will stop most viruses BEFORE they infect you computer. You will have to purchase this for your computer and I have provided some helpful links to good anti-virus programs. These should be set to be running at all times through the settings of the anti-virus program and updated weekly if not daily.
4. Run spy-bot scans regularly- Spy bots are not the same as viruses. A virus is able to infect and deter your computer from running correctly. Spy bots can steal your information, passwords, logins, and are typically malicious in intent. I consider these more dangerous than viruses because they can literally steal your identity without you knowing it and open the door to automatically download viruses to your computer. I have also provided links for effective spy bot removal tools. These should be run twice a month.
5. Registry Cleaners- A little known tool for making a huge performance increase to your computer is running a registry cleaner regularly. Basically what these do is remove any unnecessary piece of your registry left behind from either updating your software, removing a program or deleting program directories. By doing this it will help your computer find the correct paths it needs to run the commands given to it and help avoid “confusion” by removing “broken pieces” in the registry.