As hardware progresses over the years, so too does the software we use. It’s always good to know how to keep your PC Clean and quick.
Upgrading to Windows 10 is the best way to go about this as it has massive performance boosts in comparison to the beloved Windows 7 or its predecessor, Windows 8/8.1. When you get a new computer/laptop, it always runs quickly but as you use it more, and start installing all those important programs onto it, you may notice your computer/laptop becoming sluggish.
Making your device as close to brand new as we can get is the goal of this article! If you’re uncertain, or uncomfortable with any of these steps, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll help you out or do all of this for you! If these steps do not resolve the issue, we can help with computer repair either remotely or by utilizing our onsite services if you reside within Arizona. The rule of thumb for this article is that if you don’t know what something is, don’t close it or delete it. You could be in a world of trouble otherwise! The list is in order of easiest to perform to most difficult.
- Close System Tray Items
Many programs that you install startup when you turn on your computer and run in the background, taking up resources that you might need elsewhere. They are normally hidden up until you click the arrow near the system tray to reveal all the items. Now a couple of these won’t make too large a difference but collectively they will add up and start causing issues depending on your computer. Unless you have moved in, you can see the task bar along the bottom of your screen and you can click on the arrow to see all your hidden items.
- Get Rid of Junk / Temporary Files
This quick fix is to get rid of files that your computer no longer will need, known as junk files and temporary files. For this you can either use the built in cleanup tool, Disk Cleanup, or you can use a third-party program. For comparisons sake, Disk Cleanup found 759MB on my laptop it could get rid of. Third-party programs found 1,200 MB worth of files to delete. I perform these clean ups once every other week or so and there’s that much to delete! Imagine how much space there is if you’ve never done this since you’ve bought the computer. If you go the third-party route, keep in mind that there are a lot of options and even more things you could delete, that you do not want to delete. Be careful!
- Get Rid of Programs You Don’t Need
When you buy a computer or laptop, depending on the manufacturer it will come with tons of software you don’t want, let alone need on your device. You also might have installed a lot of software over time that you no longer use, but you never got around to uninstalling it. Open your control panel and go into applications to start uninstalling programs you no longer need or use. Keep in mind, that if you do not know what something is, odds are you should not be getting rid of it unless you do research and determine that it is safe to remove! You can also use third-party uninstall applications, such as Revo-uninstaller which will remove all traces of the program for your computer, not just the program itself.
- Remove Adware/Malware/Viruses
Anti-virus protection alone isn’t enough anymore these days. You generally should have an anti-virus program as well as an anti-malware program or a program that does both. Which means that if you’re using only Microsoft Defender, for example, then you’re already likely in quite a bit of trouble. In AV Comparative’s testing Microsoft Defender for Windows 10 was one of the worst performers in terms of security. There are quite a few options to choose from, but whichever you choose, just be sure to do your research! As for Malware & Adware issues, there are two popular contenders known as Adaware and Malwarebytes.
- Defragment Your Device
For Windows 10, this process is automatically taken care of and if you already have an SSD instead of an older Hard Disk Drive, then Defragmenting your device is not necessary. You may manually want to perform this though, if, for example, you recently added a lot of music/pictures/movies onto your hard drive.
- Adjust Your Startup Services
To adjust your services, you will want to click on start, type in “Run” and hit enter. Once the run option pops up on your screen, then type in “msconfig”. Once the menu appears, click on “Services” and check the box that says “Hide all Microsoft Services”. You do not want to mess with any Microsoft services unless you know what you’re doing! Also, be careful of what you disable in here. If you do not know what it is, then research it before you touch it! Odds are, there are a few services that you do not need to have start up when you turn on your computer. (Such as skype, steam, etc.)
- Adjust your Startup Programs
Now that your startup services are under control, you will want to look at the number of programs that startup when you turn on your computer. If you are using Windows 10, you can do this through the task manager. If you are on an older operating system, then you will want to refer to the step we just completed and click on the “Startup” tab. Just like the services list, it is likely that there are quite a few programs in here that you do not need to have opened the instant your computer turns on and as such, can be disabled. Just like before, do not disabled programs without knowing what they are or you may be in for a world of hurt. For example, in my list, it is possible for me to disable my laptops touch pad.
- Adjust your Devices Performance Options
This option will allow you to change how much power your device is going to utilize. (More power = better performance. Lower power consumption = Lower Performance.) This can be useful particularly for laptops as well if you are trying to save on battery life. To get to these options, hit start and type in “Power Options”. Click on that, then choose the plan that sounds best to you. I would recommend selecting High Performance.
- Reduce the Amount of Animations
Reducing the amount of animations that your computer uses to operate will increase performance, but at the cost of visual aesthetics. To get to this menu, you will want to hit start and type in “Adjust the appearance” and you should see in the list “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows”. Letting windows handle everything should be fine but if you would like an increased performance, or to make windows a little more pretty, then select one of the other options.
- Remove Addons/Extensions from Your Browser
One thing that may be going on in your computer is your browser might be bogged down with a ton of addons/extensions or services/toolbars that you just don’t need. Your complaints about your device being slowly might have solely to do with your browser choice as well. For example, if you are using internet explorer, then you should probably stop immediately, especially if you are running Internet Explorer version 8, 9 or 10 which is no longer officially supported by Microsoft. If you are using Mozilla Firefox, you can delete unwanted addons by click on the button on the top right corner of the browser and selecting addons. For Chrome, click on the on the top right hand corner and navigate into your extension menu.
- Make Sure Everything is Up-to-date
If your operating system and primary hardware is not up to date can be a very large factor as to why your computer is not running optimally. Windows 7 and up will generally update all your important hardware for you, along with keeping your operating system up to date and secure. To check these settings or for updates, however, be sure to run Windows update occasionally.
- Utilize Better Software
Perhaps the problem is not even your computer, but the software you are using. Just because an option is there by default, or is popular doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best option for every user. For example, most computers come with Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat installed and set as a default PDF reader. While Adobe Acrobat Suite has its uses, it is certainly not meant for your everyday consumer who is just trying to read a document. Instead, you would use your internet browser to view PDF’s, or the ever-praised open source Foxit PDF Reader.
- Physically Clean Your Computer
Most people rarely ever open the case of their computer and let me tell you, it can get quite dirty in there to the point where your computer will stop functioning. Obviously, no one wants this but not many people are comfortable with taking apart their computer in fear of messing something up, nor accidentally unplugging something. This is something that needs to be done though at least once a month be it by you, or someone else!
Image credit to CompNewbie
- Reset Your PC/Laptop or Reinstall Windows
If all the steps above haven’t helped, then it may just be best to cut your losses and start over. Luckily with Windows 8/8.1/10 you can simply reset your PC and choose to either start with zero files and lose everything, or you can choose to keep your files and fix your computer. Be careful as to what you choose though because once it’s gone, it’s gone! To get this to menu type in “Reset PC” and click on Reset PC. Once the menu opens, select “Get Started”. If you have an older version of windows, then you may need a recovery CD to reinstall Windows.
- Upgrade and or Get More Ram
Now for these last two steps, there are no simple instructions as I cannot say what you have installed on your computer, only you would know that. Most programs and games these days are recommending anywhere from 8GB or more of ram. While 60% of computers being sold in the market today meet or exceed this amount, this might not be the case if you’ve had your computer for 2 or more years. The more programs and windows you have open, the more RAM it will take so the more RAM you can get, the better. If you need help selecting or installing options for your computer, feel free to let us know in the comments and we can try to assist you further. RAM can be found on sites like Newegg, Amazon or if going to the store in person is your thing then most retailers like Walmart & BestBuy. Image courtesy of Corsair
- Upgrade to an SSD Hard Drive
The largest boost in performance that you can ever receive for your computer is to buy an SSD (Solid-state Drive) and use that as your primary drive instead of using an older Hard Disk Drive. Within the last few years SSD’s have never been more affordable, some SSD’s dipping below $100 in price. Top of the line SSD’s can now read/write upwards from 5 times faster than your standard Hard Disk Drive so the performance increase is phenomenal. Keep in mind though that replacing your main hard drive requires you to not only install the SSD, but to also reinstall your operating system and all your programs, or to migrate all your current data onto your new SSD. Again though, if you need help with anything, please feel free to contact us. Image courtesy of Samsung