Speeding up your computer

Brian's Take on Tech

Bringing you info about technology, and how it impacts your life for better and worse.   -Brian K, Community Partnerships Supervisor

Image: Entering Hyperspace by Flickr user Eole

I was reading this article on MakeUseOf last week about registry cleaners not speeding up your computer significantly. This surprised me as articles I'd read previously, perhaps even on MakeUseOf, suggested that cleaning up your computer's registry could significantly speed up your system. The more recent article is convincing that, especially with newer versions of Windows, there are other things you can do to improve your system's speed more significantly and with less risk of causing harm.

One thing the article doesn't make clear for all readers is what it means by speed. I'm aware that readers of this post may have different skill and experience levels in computer use. Some of you have stopped reading or soldiered on hoping I'd make sense of this "registry" thing, while others have already clicked through to the MakeUseOf article, saw nothing they didn't already know, and moved on.

So, let me get the newer users up to speed--your computer may be slow to start up when you turn it on and to run programs on stored on your computer like Word or Solitaire. That can be different than your computer being slow to pull up a website or download your email to Outlook because in order to access anything online, your computer communicates with other computers called servers to request and retrieve the information brought back to your screen. There are programs on your computer slowing this down as well (security programs like anti-virus software that scans all of the information coming in to your machine make the process take nanoseconds longer than running your computer without security software, which you wouldn't want to do).

The MakeUseOf tips about speeding up your computer are good ones, and two of them are free. Defragmenting your hard drive will help reunite parts of files stored in different places to improve their loading time. You can access the Microsoft disk defragmenter in the Start menu--Accessories folder--System tools folder.

The third tip about bad registry edits and not downloading bad software is more of a practice than anything, but they give advice on removing software, too.

The tip that will cost you is upgrading your RAM. You can first try to free up your RAM with the suggestions in this Techradar article. If things still seem slow after that, you'll want to consider a few things. Is your computer still under warranty? To install new RAM, you'll need to crack it open, which could void a warranty. The warranty supplier should be able to provide you with a way to get the upgrade done. Are you comfortable opening your computer and plugging things into its guts? You may not be, in which case you'll want someone else to do it--check the computer repair section of the yellow pages. You may find deals at places like Milwaukee PC or Best Buy--cheap or free installation if you buy your new RAM there--check the electronics shops section of the yellow pages and ask if they have any such deals.

If you're suffering from computer slowness, there's plenty more information you can find online to improve your system. MakeUseOf, Lifehacker, and Mashable frequently provide articles on ways to improve your computer's functioning and would be worthwhile to add to your RSS reader. What's RSS? That's a post for another time.

Image credit: Entering Hyperspace by Eole used under CC license

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