WOW! That’s the typical response we receive at Nerds On Site when our customers computers boot up in half the time they did just 10 minutes before. Chances are quite good you too can have this “WOW!” experience, assuming your Windows computer is spyware, adware, and virus-free. Here are 5 simple steps you can easily do yourself, or have your favorite IT person take care of for you – we hope they are a Nerd On Site, of course!
Ever since Windows 95, Microsoft has made it fairly easy to manage all the programs that automatically start up with your computer. If you are not sure which ones you do or do not need, it’s safe to uncheck most or all of them and restart computer. Then selectively re-enable one at a time (and restart) to enable what you really need. Often there are programs in your PC for multi-function printers and other devices you may have had connected. Often, a majority of these programs are completely unnecessary, and take forever to boot up, wasting much of your precious time. To use this utility simply click Start, choose Run and type “msconfig” (without quotes) and select OK.
2. Free Up Disk Space
When it comes to our computers, most of us are guilty of being pack rats. We tend to horde files containing information we may never view again without realizing how much space these files actually take up. Once you have reached 85% of your hard drives capacity, the computer will take a turn for the worst in terms of performance. If you are past that 85% usage now, here are a few tips to get you below that percentage:
• Copy files to your USB drive first before deleting them off your PC. This always a safer bet to avoid accidentally deleting an important file.
• Replace your hard drive with a larger one. This is the easiest route if you want to avoid moving files around to external drives.
It used to be that defragmenting the drive increased the performance, but nowadays the speed after defragmenting is hardly recognizable.
Modern operating systems and file systems are much better at managing fragmentation.
Hard Drive manufacturers make it very easy to replace your hard drive by including software that allows you to completely clone your old hard drive to your new one. If you feel adventurous, you may be able to do this yourself, but certainly any IT professional can handle a task such as this very safely. The added benefit is that you now have an extra hard drive that can be used for backup purposes.
3. Keep a Clean Desktop
It’s important to keep your desktop organized and free of clutter. If you have several files/icons covering the desktop of your computer you should create a file folder and store them away, burn them on a disk or move them to an external drive (then you can delete the original copies off your PC) as mentioned.
You will be amazed at how fast your computer starts up once you have no desktop clutter. The icons on the desktop actually take time to be retrieved and displayed, and this has to happen before your PC will allow any program to run.
4. Upgrade RAM, and RAM Memory Chips
If you are still chugging away at 512MB or 1GB of RAM, adding more RAM is cheaper than ever and can dramatically increase the startup time of your computer, and the speed at which all of your programs operate. In our experience, “WOW!” Reactions always tend to follow a RAM upgrade.
You can typically obtain RAM upgrades direct from the PC’s manufacturer, although purchasing this way can be pricey. If you are not confident in installing RAM yourself, we recommend hiring an IT person. If you do attempt to install the RAM yourself, make sure that whatever memory you purchase is guaranteed to be compatible with your computer and that you are able to return it if it does not work. Some considerations to make when adding RAM:
• Will you be able to add it to the existing memory or will it be replacing the existing chip(s)?
• Does it require pairs of chips to be installed?
• What is the maximum amount of RAM that can be installed on your computer?
• Are you running a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system? 3-4GB are the maximum that 32-bit operating systems will recognize and/or be able to use.
In extreme cases where some specialists operate intensive database programs, such as simulations in health care research, maximizing on RAM and utilizing a 64-bit version of your operating system may allow you to run your databases in RAM instead of the hard drive.
If you spend a lot of time in front of your computer waiting, it may be worth consulting an expert to discuss how extra RAM can increase productivity dramatically for you.
5. A Clean Install of Microsoft Windows
Provided there are no technical problems with the computer, a clean install of Microsoft Windows guarantees that the PC will run as fast as it did when it was new. The essential process for a clean install of windows is as follows:
• Make a complete backup of the entire computer.
• Ensure the backup is working and accessible.
• Re-install Microsoft Windows from scratch.
• Restore your programs and data.
Depending on the amount of programs and data you have on your PC, this process could take on average of 1-4 hours to complete. Nerds On Site recommends repeating this process every 6-12 months for your PC to run optimally.
The above list is by no means exhaustive. The above steps should only be done on a computer that you have administrative access to and are responsible for.
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