Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to Speed Up Your Computer!

I’m sure most of you have heard advertisements for programs and services that are supposed to speed up and unclutter your computer.  Most of these programs and services are simply registry cleaners and really have nothing to do with what is most likely slowing your computer down (more on that in a minute).  There is actually some debate that cleaning the registry may be more harmful than good.  For those of you who are uncertain what the registry is; it is the location where the Windows operating system stores settings for both Windows and programs stored and installed on the computer.  A damaged registry can result in a computer that will never see the “light of day” again!  And it is for that reason some experts do not recommend using registry cleaners, there is also little evidence that cleaning the registry actually speeds up computer.
Start menu msconfigSo, if the registry most likely is not slowing the computer down, what is slowing down the performance?  There are two likely answers, running (installed) programs and (or) malicious programs (viruses, malware, spyware, scarware, ect.).  I am not going to cover the malicious software in this article.  Running programs slow a computer down by consuming resources and processing time both during boot up and while running.  Most of these programs do not need to be running, especially during start up!  The first thing to do is to uninstall any unneeded programs, see my previous blog post for a little bit on that: http://computer-skills-online.blogspot.com/2011/02/new-computer-first-stepdecrapify.html.  Once any unneeded programs have been removed, the second step is to open System Configuration and remove all unneeded items from starting up with the computer.  To open System Configuration go Start and type “msconfig” in the search box and press Enter on the keyboard.  In Windows XP you need to go Start >> Run and type in “msconfig” and click OK.
Once you press enter (or click OK) the System Configuration window should open.
system configuration msconfig
To view the items that are starting up with the computer click the Startup tab.  This will display a list of most of the items that are starting up with the computer.  To prevent an item from starting up with the computer simply uncheck the item. 
So how do you know what to uncheck?  The short answer is virtually everything!  A good way to start is by expanding the Startup Item and Command columns so you can see more of the name and command, sometimes the names on the programs do no make sense, in which case looking at the command column may give a clue as to what the program is.  Some items that should startup with the computer are antivirus programs, firewalls, backup software, and printer software (depends the printer).  Just to note as well, just because you uncheck an item does not mean that it will not work, the program simply will not startup with computer and will not be running in the background.  An example of this above is Adobe Acrobat, just because I have unchecked it does not mean it it does not work; it simply starts up when I want to look at a PDF file.
In the screenshot above I have unchecked a total of 30 items that are starting up with computer!  Which provides a noticeable difference in startup time as well as overall performance!  You can also note from the list that I could have actually unchecked all but the Microsoft Security Essentials program; however, I want the programs that are checked to startup with the computer, for example Windows Live Messenger will automatically start and log me in when I start my computer.  Now, I could uncheck it from starting up, which would mean if I want to use I would have to start it manually.
Once you have finished making all your changes, you click OK and you will be asked wither you want to restart the computer.  It does not matter with you restart now or later, though you may want to check and see if your changes actually made a difference.
Once you restart the computer, another System Configuration dialogue box will appear letting you know you have made changes, assuming you find the changes acceptable, just tell the dialogue not show this message.
If you do not find the changes acceptable, simply open the System Configuration, go to the startup tab and recheck any programs that you want to start up with the computer.

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