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Computer Care > Speed Up Your Computer and Extend the Life of Your System:
Speed up Your Computer and Extend the Life of Your System:

Some basic steps you can do to help speed up your computer and extend the life of your system:

  1. Free up disk Space on Your Hard Drive: As your drive fills up, it will access data slower as it searches for the data you need. Once your hard drive is full, it will stop working all together. Today's large hard drives make that a remote possibility, but it still exists. You can use the Windows XP Disk Cleanup utility to make this, and the following steps easier, but it has a history of not being very reliable. So, I recommend doing it manually, as it only takes a couple of minutes to do it yourself, and you have more control over your computer.

    • Clear your Temporary files: Temporary files are files that have been downloaded to your computer when you installed an update to an existing program or install a new program on your computer. These files are usually used only the one time and then sit waiting for you to remove them (if they aren't removed automatically by the installation program). There are several places that temporary files are stored on a windows computer:
      1. c:\temp
      2. c:\documents and settings\(user account)\local settings\temp
      3. c:\windows\temp

      You may receive a pop-up window stating Error Deleting File or Folder message while the files are being deleted. This just means that one of the files is in use by a program right now. Click OK, close all open programs, and repeat the steps above. If you still receive the message, try restarting your PC and repeating the process again.

    • Clear Internet Temporary Files: These files are different from the previous temporary files, as they are files stored on your computer whenever you access any internet site. Go to Start > Control Panel > Internet Options. Click on Delete under the Browsing History section, then select Temporary Internet Files from the list (you can choose other options to delete as well) and click on Delete.

    • Empty your Recycle Bin: When you delete files from your computer, they don't actually delete - they go into a buffer that you can retrieve later, in case you deleted something you didn't mean to. The file still resides on the hard drive until you empty the recycle bin. You'd be surprised how much space you can free up if you've never done this.

    • Move seldom or never used files off your computer: Archive these files to a floppy drive, or to a data CD/DVD, or even to a USB flash drive.

  2. Defragment your hard drive: When you save files to your computer, they don't always get saved in a single contiguous file. It can be split up into several different files, and then must be pieced back together when you try to access the file again. By running the defragment tool, it pieces the file together so that your computer can find it faster. You can find this tool by going to My Computer, right-click on the local hard drive and select properties. Click on the tab at the top labeled Tools.

  3. Detect and repair errors on your hard drive: As you use your hard drive, it can develop bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing (such as file saving) difficult, or even impossible. The Error Checking utility scans the hard drive for bad sectors, and scans for file system errors to see whether certain files or folders are misplaced.

    If you use your computer daily, you should run this utility once a week to help prevent data loss.

    You can find this tool by going to My Computer, right-click on the local hard drive and select properties. Click on the tab at the top labeled Tools. In the Check Disk dialog box, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start.

  4. Protect your computer against spyware: Spyware collects personal information without letting you know and (usually) without asking for permission. From the Web sites you visit to usernames and passwords, spyware can put you and your confidential information at risk. In addition to privacy concerns, spyware can hamper your computer's performance. To combat spyware, you might want to consider using Adaware SE and Spybot Search and Destroy. They are free programs and available for download from

  5. Possibly look into a memory (RAM) upgrade: If, after all this, you still don't see an improvement on your computers performance, you may need to add physical memory to your computer. You should first look to see how much RAM your computer already has by going to Start > Run and typing in winver, then click on OK. Look for Physical RAM, and it will tell you how much memory is already installed. Most Windows machines have the 32-bit version of Windows installed, which can hold no more than 4 GB of RAM, also, you should look at your documentation that came with your computer to see what your motherboard can handle for RAM to make sure you don't exceed that.

    If you use Windows Vista, then you have another option available called ReadyBoost. With ReadyBoost you can connect a USB flash drive to your computer and your system will use that as additional memory to speed up your system.

    Also, if your using an onboard graphics adapter (a graphics adapter that is built into the memory board), then you are splitting your RAM into two different areas. Adding even a cheap video card will free up some of your system memory and would be an instant boost to your system.

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