How do I speed up my PC?

Often over the years many PC's become slower. Many people wonder how this happens and want to know how to speed up their PC. They wonder: is it because my computer is becoming old? Many decide to buy a new PC when that happens. Well, it's not getting slower because it's getting old. It only gets slower because over the years many applications were installed. The hardware of the computer still works at the same speed at which you bought it. It's not getting slower over the years. Quite often it's not necessary to buy a new computer. What is true, however, is that some (newer) programs require faster hardware, but I can assure you that you can be quite happy with a 5 years old PC that still performs very good. Often, you don't need a new PC, just speed up your PC.

You can reinstall Windows to make your computer perform fast again. Of course this is much work, but it brings many benefits. On this page I describe some easy things you can do that also make your PC run much faster.

System Mechanic

System Mechanic keeps your PC running fast, clean and error-free with System Mechanic's award-winning arsenal of tools that prevent problems before they arise. Repair stubborn errors, improve startup and program speed, tune system settings, eliminate performance bottlenecks, clean up clutter, and prolong your PC's life.

There are many other solutions to speed up your PC. First you have to realise that over the years many programs were installed that automatically load when your computer starts.

System Mechanic

These programs run in the background and you'll not notice these programs were loaded. But these background programs causes much of the trouble of slowing down your PC. In case you want to see which programs are running in the background of your PC you can type simultaneously Ctrl Shift Escape. A windows pops up and on the tabpage 'processes' shows which processes are running in the background. Probably you'll recognise some of these processes running.

Below you'll see some of the processes running on my PC.

windows processes


When you want to speed up your PC, first you'll have to find out which processes are running that are from programs that you don't use (any more). This is actually easy to do, just search on the internet to what program each process belongs. You have to be aware, also Windows processes are loaded and displayed that have to run, like svchost.exe, explorer.exe, services.exe and winlogon.exe for example (there are more).

You can control which programs are started upon Windows startup. For Windows XP just go to Start and then Run and type in: msconfig. In Windows Vista of Windows 7 you can type msconfig in the search bar of your start menu. After you do so, you'll see the following window. Off course, the list of programs on your PC will look different from mine.

startup programs

Just go to the 'Startup' tabpage and you'll see all programs that are loaded upon Windows startup. In case you recognize programs that you don't use anymore or want to prevent them from loading, just unselect the box before the program. In my example I can for example disable 'AppleSyncNotifier' and 'iTunesHelper' when I don't use iTunes or Apple related things anymore. In case you don't know what an item stands for, probably it will help when you make the 'Command' collumn a little wider. Then you can see at what location on your computer it is installed. When you uncheck some programs, this will speed up your computer considerably upon Windows startup.

There are more things you can do to speed up your PC, for example by installing additional memory (in case there are empty memory slots in your PC). It's very important to install the right memory modules, so go to your supplier to find out. There are also online resources (that scan your computer) that help inform what modules to use. Memory modules commonly are installed in pairs (two modules at a time). Be careful when instally more memory by yourself, because these modules are very sensitive to static electricity. Hold a memory module on each side of the circuit board. Don't touch any chip or component on it and decharge your body first before touching a module.

A PC also gets slow when there is not enough disk space on your C: drive. By default your C: drive is also used for so called 'virtual memory'. When you load a program that does not fit in the memory (RAM) modules, Windows automatically uses hard disk space to compensate for that. I always make sure there's more than 2 Gb of free hard disk space on a C: drive. It's advisable to have more than 6 Gb of free hard disk space on your C: drive. You can check how much disk space is available by clicking on 'My Computer' and right click on your C: drive and click 'properties'.

In case you don't have much free space on your C: drive, I urge you to uninstall some programs that you don't use anymore. A great tool to find out which programs of files occupy most of your hard drive is TreeSize (freeware). I use it quite often to find out which files occupy most space on a hard drive. Make sure you only delete or move items that you are familiar with (for example downloaded movies, songs, games, etc.).

After you have freed up some space on your C: drive, Windows will run much smoother. Another important thing to do is defragmenting your hard drive(s). Windows has a built in tool to do that (accessoires - system tools - disk defragmenter). Just start this program, select your drive and click 'Analyse' or 'Defragment'. Defragmenting your drive regularly will improve hard disk read and write actions as it improves the time it takes to read and write data on your drive.

By the way, it's also possible to change which drives on your PC are used for virtual memory. In case you have another drive, like a D: drive for example (that is not a DVD player or removable drive), you can instruct Windows to use it for virtual memory. This can be done by right-clicking 'My Computer', then click properties and next click on the 'Advanced' tabpage. Next click on the 'Settings' button of the 'Performance' section. Then, in this 'Performance Options' window that then displays, click on the 'Advanced' tabpage. Next, click on the 'Change' button in the 'Virtual Memory' section. In the window that then appears, you can manage which drive on your computer is used for virtual memory.

Click on a drive in that window to see how much virtual memory is being used on each drive and whether Windows manages the amount of virtual memory or you control how much is being used. In case you don't know how much virtual memory to assign on a drive, it's wise to let Windows control how much is being used. You can assign additional virtual memory for other drives.

Recently, I learned when you defragment your C: drive it's also a good idea before defragmenting to switch your virtual memory to another drive first (so that the C: drive is not being used for virtual memory during defragmenting). This makes sure that your so called 'pagefile' that's used for virtual memory is also being defragmented during the defragmentation process. This pagefile is a hidden system file that you normally don't see in your Windows Explorer. After defragmentation you can instruct Windows to use your C: drive again for virtual memory. To learn more about the Windows pagefile visit this webpage. Highly recommended.

I learned from that site that you should only use one driveletter for each physical hard disk in your PC. So, in case your C: and D: drive are located on the same harddisk, you should either use your C: or D: drive for virtual memory! This is because using both drives, causes the arm in your harddrive to move more, causing a drop in performance. However, when your D: drive is on another physical harddisk, then you can use it for virtual memory combined with your C: drive for virtual memory.

In case you have more than one physical hard disk on your PC, it's advisable to find out which hard disk performs most fast and use the Windows driveletters assigned to that harddisk for virtual memory. For example, SCSI and solid state disks are often faster than SATA (serial ATA) or IDE harddisks. A great tool to find out how fast your harddisk performs is SiSoft Sandra (freeware). Always make sure that you don't use a slow (removable) USB-harddrive for virtual memory. The most important performance indicators for harddisks are the access time and read and write speeds (in Mbit/sec or Gbit/sec). Here you can read more about hard disk drives.

These simple tips will definitely speed up your PC.

Re-install Windows, slipstreaming and driver update

Slipstream Windows Vista

Unattended Windows Vista / 7 install DVD

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Windows XP install CD slipstreaming

The easiest way to automatically install device drivers on any windows xp computer

Driverpack solution - popular drivers site

Driverpack solution free download - ISO image

nLite for Windows XP

vLite for Windows Vista

ntLite for Windows 7 -10

How do I speed up my PC