This instructable will guide you step by step on how to clean up your computer and keep it running fast without paying for one of those rediculous programs.
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Step 1: Updates
One of the biggest thing you can do for your computer to help keep it running fast is to check for the latest hardware and software updates. You can accomplish this by opening internet explorer and highlighting the tools button on the main ribbon at the top of the window and clicking on the windows update option.
Step 2: User Accounts
One of the things that people don't usually realize is that when you have alot of user accounts on your computer, it slows it way down. You can counter this by simply deleting some of the users. When you have deleted the users just make a folder for each person that uses the computer in the "My Documents" folder. When you want to keep something secret from the others on the computer, just make the file hidden, or put it in a folder maze. (explained in other instructable) When you have deleted the accounts you can also change the way that you log on and off of the computer by changing the settings so that you log on and off with the old method. (No Welcome Screen, just username and password) This can significantly reduce the amount of resources that you use. Also change your background to a plain color by choosing none in your desktop properties and choosing a base color. This will reduce startup time.
Step 3: Startup Tasks and Ram Usage
Another thing that you can use to speed up your system that most people don't know about is configuring the startup of your computers task bar programs. To start off click the start button. In the start menu, click the button that says "Run" (If your using Vista, search it in the search bar) After that window opens up, type in the text box "MSConfig." This will open up the system cofiguration program. It may seem confusing at first, but its rather simple. First start by clicking on the services tab, dont worry about anything else for now. In the services tab you can search through the programs listed and disable them from starting up. Remember that it is extremely important dont turn off anything important or that you dont know what it is. But, a good example of what to turn off would be the wireless service if you are connected to the internet through a ethernet cable. Once you are done in here, open up the startup tab. The names of the items in here are not in any way as strait forward as the services tab. What you want to do is extend the column at the top that says command. In this tab, disable anything that isn't important such as google desktop, java, adobe, printer software, dial-up or other nonsense. These programs will still work if you launch them from a shortcut or link if you click on them. They just wont waste your valuable ram if your not using them. After done selecting everything click accept and done. It will prompt you if you would like to restart. CLICK "EXIT WITHOUT RESTART"!
Step 4: Virtual Memory and Visual Effects
Now what you want to do is open "My Computer". Click on the "View System Information" link in the upper left hand side of the screen. Once this is open click on the the "Advanced" Tab. The will be a box that says "Performance" click on the button there that says "Settings". In the first tab that is open called "Visual Effects", you can edit how good your computer runs or looks. You can either choose the automatic setting for "Appearance" or "Performance", or you can click custom and choose what you like. The less that is selected, the faster your computer will perform. Click Apply. After this open the "Advanced" Tab. The "Processor Scheduling" and "Memory Usage" boxes should both be set to programs. The final box that says "Virtual Memory" should say how many megabytes your computer is using as "Virtual Memory" or Ram that is allocated on your hard drive. Click "Change". This step is only useful if you have an extra hard drive besides the one with your system files on it (Windows OS), or if you have a flash drive that you can commit to speeding up your computer, or external hard drive. If you meet one of these requirements, first select your main hard drive with the OS on it and select the "No Paging File" and click set. After that select you extra hard drive or flash drive in the menu above and select "Custom Size". In the text boxes type in a relatively high number based on how much space you have on your extra drive. I set mine at a minimum size of 5000 MB and and max size of 6000 MB. This is a good high number that will allow your computer to never run out of virtual memory. After you set the size, click "Set". Then you click "OK" and close these windows.
Step 5: Check Disk and Defragment
For this step it is important that you do these when you are not planning on using your computer while it is working on this step. The best time i found is to start these tasks before i go to bed, work, or school even. Open "My Computer', right-click on your main hard drive and click "Properties". In this window click on the "Tools" tab. The first thing at the top of the window should be "Error Checking". Click on the button that says "Check Now...". When the next small window pops up make sure that both check boxes have a green check mark in them. Then click "Start". It will tell you that it needs certain OS files and asks you if you would like to schedule the Disk Check on the next restart. Click "Yes". Go through all of your hard drives and follow these steps. Then Restart your computer. But remember, if you do this at a time when you need to use your computer you will be screwed for at least 1.5 hours per hard drive, thats why it is best to do it before bed. When the computer restarts and you log on, there will be a prompt awaiting you from the system config we did earlier. Click on the check box that says "Don't show this again" and click "Done" or "Ok". After you do this go back through "My Computer" and open up the properties and tools for your hard drive. This time though, your going to click on "Defragment". Click on that and when the new window pops up click "Analyze". This will take a couple of minutes. After it is done it will say "You should (or Should not) defragment this hard drive" Regardless of what it says just click on the "Defragment" button. REMEMBER: Only do this when not planning on using the computer for a while. (Bed, work, school) Repeat this process for each hard drive.
Step 6: Internet
One last step that is really dependant on each person and there computer is that you can delete your cookies and temporary internet files. Internet Explorer >> Tools >> Internet Properties >> delete cookies, and temporary internet files. You can also perform virus scans which may help your computer to run faster.
Step 7: Use Your Computer!
Use your now faster and more responsive computer! Glad I could help.