Many things can cause your computer to slow down; simply using your PC means downloading new programs and files, which all affect the functioning of your computer. To fix a sluggish Windows PC, try the following ten steps:
- CREATE A RESTORE POINT. Before you embark on a mission to tune-up your PC, create a restore point. This means that if the changes you have made on your computer result in further complications (which you can no longer fix by yourself) you can always go back to the point of departure, and not lose any vital data. To do this, you will need to: Open the Start menu (bottom left), go to Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore. The computer will ask you to pick an option for the System Restore Point, after which you click Next. Fill in a name for the restore point and click Create.
- CREATE MORE SPACE. Low memory or disk space might be one of the main things slowing down your computer. Delete all pictures, music and video files you no longer need, or move them to a flash drive. Also, uninstall programs you do not use. To uninstall programs, you can either choose the program in Start > All Programs and see if there is an uninstaller, or by going to Start > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs (XP) or Programs and Features (7). Be sure to only remove programs you are sure you do not need.
- CLEAN DISK.You can also clean your hard disks to free up space from redundant files. To do this on Windows, go to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup. You might be asked to specify which drive you wish to clean. The tool will suggest a list of files for you to delete, but be careful not to select files you wish to keep. If you are not sure about a file, do not remove it.
- REPAIR DISK ERRORS. Apart from cleaning your disk, you should repair errors on it too. To repair disk errors on Windows first close all open files, then click Start > (My) Computer > right-click on the hard disk you want to repair > choose Properties > Tools > Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors (XP), or Check Now (7).
- DEFRAG.In the same dialog box you will also find an option for Defragmentation. Defragreduces the amount of fragmentation in file systems, therefore increasingthe speed of your computer.
- DISABLE STARTUP ITEMS. Some programs start running automatically as soon as you turn your computer on. To prevent these programs from running on the background and thus slowing down your computer, go to Start > Run, type msconfig in the dialog box that appears and click Enter. Click the Startup tab and uncheck the programs you do not need to run on start-up.
- REMOVE VIRUSES AND MALWARE. Viruses and malware might be interfering with your computer, so make sure you have an up-to-date antivirus program, and preferably an anti-spyware program too. When picking the antivirus and spyware programs, try to find a program that will be light on your computer’s resources. Some antivirus programs can be counter-effective, and slow your computer down. Double check also that your firewall is turned on: Start > Control Panel > Windows Firewall.
- UPDATES. Automating Windows Update on your computer will help protect your PC, and you will not need to worry about installing the updates manually on a regular basis. However, if your computer is old and slow, automatic updates might have a negative effect on your computer’s performance. To enable or disable updates on an XP, go to Start > Control Panel > Security Center > Automatic Update. On Windows 7: Start > All Programs > Windows Update.
- CHECK YOUR MODEM. Sometimes we ignore the obvious. If you are using a wireless connection on your computer, and your Internet is slow, check that your modem is not covered with obstructing items, and that there is enough air space around it. If your computer and modem are very dusty, you should blow them clean, or use a duster or a dry cloth.
- CLEAN WINDOWS REGISTRY. If the above tips did not improve your PC’s performance, you might be faced with a cluttered Windows registry. To correct this problem, you will need to install a registry cleaner. You can download one for free, but the choice for the cleaner needs to be made with care. Cleaning the registry is a delicate matter, and a careless clean-up may lead to a destroyed Windows. Therefore it is recommended that if you undertake a registry clean-up on your own, on top of creating a restore point, you should back-up your registry. You can find free back-up programs by doing a simple search on the Internet.
Good maintenance of your computer can make it last significantly longer. If you do not have the time to tune up your PC on your own, then hiring an expert can be a worthy investment. In some cases though, getting a new computer altogether is the most viable solution.