Hi everyone, Benedict here. Sorry for the inconsistent timings of my posts.
Continuing from where I left off regarding the survey, the next most common feedback I received was how our computers tend to slow down or lag behind after we have had them for a while. In this post, I would like to share with you some steps you can take to improve your computer’s performance. None of these will require 3rd party software programs, as the utilities are already inbuilt into the operating system.
These remedies are generic and while they would help improve your computer’s performance, don’t expect it’s performance to be soaring through the roof. In addition to these steps, I recommend running an Anti-Virus scan with your anti-virus program. There may be times when malicious software or adware installs itself on your computer along with other software you install, and they cause a drop in system performance.
The first is to remove any programs that you do not want or no longer need. To do this, head over to Control Panel > Programs and Features. Yes, you may see quite a number of things there that you may not be familiar with. Run through the list, keep a lookout for those programs that you are familiar with, but no longer use, and uninstall them if you wish to.
Exercise caution in uninstalling an unwanted program. If you are unsure of what that program is, do a quick lookup of it online. My rule of thumb is: If you don’t know what it is, don’t uninstall or change it.
The second step is to clear the “junk” files on your computer, and by that I mean things like temporary files. These files are often left behind by programs when they are run, and can be safely deleted in most instances. (Unless say, it is currently in use.) You can think of temporary files as the construction material, used or unused, that was left behind after constructing a building, instead of being cleared.
To do this, go to the disk cleanup utility from the start menu. If you would like to include the cleaning of unnecessary system related files, right click and run the application as an administrator. After it scans your PC, it will present a list of items that can be cleared, along with a description for each one and the amount of disk space you will free up. The rest is up to your decision.
The third step is to defragment the files on your hard drive. (Do Not perform this step if your computer is using a Solid State Drive.) Allow me to explain how it works.
When you create a new document and save it, it saves to your hard drive as a single contiguous file. As you continue editing it over time and adding or removing information, the document file is broken up into more pieces and saved to different locations on the physical hard disk. (This is usually because there is no room to add the additional data along side the original location of the file as another file could have planted itself there.)
When you want to open that particular document file, the computer has to search for and gather all the pieces, or fragments, of the file all over the hard disk, before consolidating them and opening it in the application. This would be more time consuming. Upon defragmentation, the pieces of that file would be rearrange once again, back into a single contiguous file. Thus when an application wants to open the file, the computer only has to gather the file from one part of the hard disk to retrieve it.
To perform defragmentation, go to the defragment and optimize drives utility from the start menu. To analyse the fragmentation level, select the drive and click the analyse button. To defragment, select the drive, and click the optimize button. (I recommend optimizing the C Drive first, as that will probably give you the greatest performance boost.
The computer boot time for some of you may be slow. This is primarily due to the number of programs that start running as soon as the computer boots up. The large number of programs causes the computer to become slow at startup. For example, sometimes you may encounter pop ups by some programs or utilities on your PC that are actually not necessary, and consume additional resources. Here is how to resolve it.
If you are running Windows 8, 8.1 or 10, open the task manager, go to the ‘Startup’ tab on the top header, then click on the programs that you feel are not necessary on startup, and disable them. If you are running Windows 7 or an operating system older than it, press “Windows Key + R” and type “msconfig” in the dialog box. Click on the startup tab and check the box stating ‘Hide all Microsoft Services’. (Reason being that you don’t want to disable any system startup processes.)
Do note that these steps only prevents the program from automatically starting when you login. You can still launch the program manually from it’s desktop icon or the start menu.
If your computer happens to be quite slow, the above mentioned remedies may also take a while to finish. Give it some time and be patient. If your hard drive is heavily fragmented, I recommend leaving the defragmentation and optimization to run overnight as it could take a long while.
Even after carrying out all these proposed remedies, your computer may still not be as fast as you want it to be. The reasons are numerous. If you are still facing trouble with such issues, feel free to reach out to me at my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advanced method of above mentioned utilities:
If you are like me, curious to see what’s under the hood, or just to make things a little simpler, there are some additional steps you can take to boost your computer’s performance.
Disk Cleanup: Navigate to the paths of the following folders, and manually delete their contents. (Use Ctrl + A to select all files). If these paths do not exist, just ignore them.
<username> refers to the name of the user currently logged in.
For the last path, you will need to show hidden files and folders. Go to Control Panel > File Explorer Options (Folder Options for Windows 7 or older) >’ View’ Tab > ‘Show Hidden Files and Folders’ button.
You may notice that there are many files, and that their names are quite gibberish, but that’s not an issue. The computer may inform you that some of the files cannot be deleted, in that case, ignore those files.
Disk Defragmentation: Open the command prompt as an administrator. (Right click, run as administrator.) Type in the following command, within the quotes, :
“defrag c:\ /a /u /v” (Analyse C drive only)
“defrag c:\ /u /v” (Analyse and Defragment C drive)
Meanings: defrag – command to defragment, C:\ – Specifies the target drive as C drive, /u – show the details of the process as it occurs, /v – show the analysis or defragmentation output in greater detail.
Bonus: Disk Boot Optimization: There is an additional parameter that can be included with the defrag command:
“defrag c:\ /b /u /v” (Optimizes the files required for your computer to boot)
The /b parameter tells the computer to optimize mainly the system files required for your computer to boot, so as to improve startup times and overall performance.
System File Checker (SFC): The SFC scans your computer for system files that may have been corrupted, and attempts to repair them. Open the command prompt as an administrator. The command is:
The scanning process will take some time. Corrupted files may be the result of the installation of third party software or programs altering system files. Upon completion. the results may state that some files could not be repaired. If your computer previously had no serious performance or working issues, I suggest that you ignore it, but keep a lookout for any unusual system behavior. Many a time these are relatively minor problems that should not have too much impact on your system.
The last (and fast) resort to resolving a really slow system is to refresh or reinstall the operating system from the settings menu in windows 8 onward, or reinstalling the operating system. These should only be used as a last resort and remember to back up all your data before you do it.