Is your computer running slow? Does is lag on you during those times when you are working or browsing and it really frustrates you? You’ve probably experienced this dozens of times. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do solve this problem. Some are more involved than others, and some require hardware upgrades or additional software. Here is a list of some quick and easy ways to improve the performance of your computer without all that extra stuff:
1. Free up space on your hard drive. If you have a lot of applications installed or you’ve been using your computer for a while and haven’t really done any “house cleaning” on it… the hard drive could be filled up to the brim. This effect causes the hard drive to slow down its ability to pull information from the disk and process it for you. The easiest way to do this is to go to the Add/Remove programs dialog in the control panel. From here, you can easily select an application you may not be using that much and click the “Remove” button to go through a wizard that will guide you through an uninstall process.
2. Clear your temporary files. Double-click on the My Computer icon on your desktop. Right-click on your C: drive and select Properties. On the dialog that pops up, click on the button that says “Disk Cleanup”. This dialog will scan your hard drive for files that are safe to delete. You can select and deselect the types of files that you want to remove.
3. Change your theme. In windows XP, if you aren’t concerned about looks or feel of your desktop, a very quick and easy way to speed up Windows is by changing the theme. To do this, right-click on your desktop and select Properties. Under the “Themes” tab there is a drop down box labeled “Themes”. Select “Windows Classic” to revert your theme back to the faster classic windows theme. It may not look pretty, but it’ll make things run a lot quicker.
4. Use the Task Manager. Hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE. This dialog that pops up is called the Task Manager. It lists all the different processes that are running in the background on your computer. About 1/3 of these processes are necessary for your PC to run correctly, but a good chunk of them are probably extra processes that you don’t need open. There are too many to list here, but you can compare your processes to a list like this one: http://www.processid.com/processes.html. Just find the one that you don’t need open and hit the “End Process” button. It’ll ask you for a confirmation, and just hit YES.
5. Stop running services. In addition to the processes running in your task manager, there are also services that are running in the background that you might not need. If you right-click on you’re My Computer icon on the desktop and select Manage, go to the bottom and extend the Services and Applications option. Double-click on Services. This will list out all the services running in the background on your computer. A lot of them are necessary, but some of them you might not need. If you want to stop a process, either select it and click “Stop the service” or right-click on it and select Stop. If you want to permanently disable a process from running, right-click on it and select Properties. In the toolbar labeled “Startup type:” choose Disabled.
6. Cleanup your startup list. Go to Start>Run and type in “msconfig”. A dialog will soon open up. Under the “Startup” tab lists all the different applications that are running when you “startup” your computer. These are generally the applications that are represented by the little icons on the bottom right corner of your screen. You can choose which ones to load or not load at startup by placing a check in the box next to the name of the application. Once you hit OK, it will ask you to restart your computer.
These are just some quick easy fixes that you can do right now within Windows XP that require no added software or hardware upgrades. Of course, it is highly recommended that you download or purchase Anti-Virus software and run a complete scan on your system. This usually eliminates a majority of performance issues that plague the common household PC. Things like spyware, adware, Trojans and viruses can infiltrate your system and really bog it down. However, if you don’t have the time or the patience for that kind of thing, hopefully the fixes above will do your system some justice and you can continue working happily knowing that your system just got a little bit faster and more efficient.