One of the worst (or best) things about computers is how quickly they get outdated. A configuration that is considered top-tier now can become almost obsolete in about three years. But when you can't afford or simply don't want to change your three-year-old PC, you have to start looking for little tricks that will help it operate closer to its full potential.
If the recent applications you acquired are pushing your PC to its limits, slowing it down and making it impossible for you to multitask, there are a few options you can consider before throwing in the towel and buying a new one. Here you will find software that can help you deal with these situations, as well as tips for small things that you can do easily, and which will have a considerable impact on your computer's performance.
- Let's start with the most basic thing of all: reinstall your Windows every 4 to 6 months. I've read on other websites how reinstalling your operating system is just a myth, but that's just rubbish. No matter how careful you are with what you install and which websites you visit, there will come a point when the junk will pile up, and it will be much easier and more effective to reinstall your Windows than to clean it up, so just do it.
- In order to minimize your system's performance decay, you shouldn't only be careful about what you install, but also make sure you completely uninstall the applications you no longer want. Just deleting them is a terrible idea and uninstalling them from the Programs window of the Control Panel is generally insufficient, so you should use a specialized application like Revo Uninstaller, CCleaner or Your Uninstaller.
- Keeping your computer as clean as possible helps it work as fast as possible. This is why you should regularly clean your junk files, cookies, temporary files, etc. Doing it by yourself could be a tedious task, and you might end up with a few errors if you delete the wrong file by accident. So I suggest you use one of these tools: CCleaner, PC Cleaner or Wise Disk Cleaner.
- To make your Windows load faster, you should tidy up the applications on your startup list. To do this, you can use programs like Autoruns or WinPatrol.
- Arguably, the best way to get the most out of your system is to use a system optimizer. The problem is that this kind of programs is rarely free and most of them promise a lot but in fact offer very little. So, here are a few of these tools, which I tested personally, that will actually have a visible impact on your computer's performance: System Mechanic, Fix-It Utilities Professional, TuneUp Utilities and Ashampoo WinOptimizer.
- If you don't want to install optimizers, there still are a few things that you can do by yourself to increase your computer's overall performance. In my experience, the one with the biggest effect is disabling the Aero feature (the transparency effect for your windows and bars). If you are using Windows XP, 8 or 8.1, you don't have to worry about that, but Vista and Seven users could really benefit from trying out this workaround. Under Windows 7 all you need to do is right click your desktop, choose Personalize and then select one of the Basic Themes which are available. When it comes to Windows Vista, you also have to right click your desktop and this time select Windows Color and Appearance, choose Open classic properties for more color options, and choose Windows Vista Basic from the box in the lower left side (right below Windows Aero).
- Another trick you can try is to use some of your free hard drive memory as RAM. This solution isn't "visible", so you won't see a sudden increase in speed, but it will stop certain applications which require a lot of RAM from crashing because of memory overflow errors. To do this, under Windows XP, right click on My Computer, select Properties, then go to the Advanced tab and click on the Settings button from the Performance category. The last section in the window which opens up is Virtual Memory, so what you need to do is click on the Change button from that section, check the Custom Size box under Paging file size for selected category and type in the values you want to add. (Remember that it's measured in MB). Windows 7 users will have to right click on Computer (in the Start menu) and select Advanced System Settings (you need administrative privileges to do this). A window called System Properties will open where you will have to choose the Advanced tab and click on the Settings button from the Performance section. In the newly opened Performance Options window, click on the Advanced tab, then press the Change button in the Virtual Memory section and (after unchecking the automatic management option) input the desired number of megabytes you wish to use as RAM.
- There are other things that you can try, but most of them are related to computer maintenance, and you can find out more about that here.