With every advancement in technology, computers have become faster and more adept at running even the biggest and most resource-hungry programs. That said, these machines will still get bogged down if they’re overworked with too much data to store and process. Even the mighty Windows 7, with its faster boot times and more efficient memory caching than previous OS iterations, isn’t immune to diminishing speeds.
In case your Windows 7-run PC slows down to a snail’s pace, below are five tips to bring it back up to speed again
1. Clean Your PC of Spyware
Spyware is a type of malware that gets your personal information without asking for your permission. Unlike most viruses whose effects are usually activated within certain time frames (i.e. they only slow your computer down at the point of activation), spyware continuously works in the background to get what it needs and sends it out to its intended recipients. This means that its processes take from your computers precious resources. It also means that the more spyware your computer has, the slower it will run.
You can fix this situation by downloading security updates using your OS’s Windows Update feature; particularly the Malicious Software Removal Tool and various Security Essentials updates.
2. Delete Temp Files
Just because you don’t have a tendency to hoard files doesn’t mean that your hard drive won’t accumulate unnecessary files over time. With every program installed and with every website visited, Windows uses up space for temporary files which a) it needs to help install the former, and sometimes fails to delete after the fact; and b) needs for the latter for caching purposes.
To get rid of these temp files, make use of Windows 7’s built-in Disk Cleanup app, which you can easily access through the Start Button > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools series of menu entries.
3. Defrag Your Hard Drive
Windows has a particular feature that fragments files if need be to make use of every available space. While definitely a useful feature that conserves as much space as possible, the downside is that it tends to make your hard drive’s access speed slower in the long run since it’ll take that much longer to piece different parts of a file together.
Fortunately, Windows has another feature that addresses this very drawback, albeit one that you have to activate manually: Disk Defragmenter. This feature rearranges your hard drive so that all files have their fragments grouped together again. As an added perk, you’ll find that sometimes, megabytes (or gigabytes) of space might even be freed up.
Ideally, you should run this program at least every other week; or else do so whenever you install many programs or add a huge number of files in one go, or when your hard drive only has 15% or less of free space.
You can access this program through the same menu entries that you use to get to Disk Cleanup or by right-clicking on a hard drive, choosing Properties, going to the Tools tab, and clicking on the Defragment Now button.
4. Detect and Repair Disk Errors
The more you use your computer, the more files the hard drive processes, and the greater the chance that it’ll develop bad sectors due to misplaced files, which significantly slows down processing time if left untreated. While not a particularly common occurrence, it does happen, and is intensified when your computer falls victim to sudden power outages, physical impacts, and such.
To make sure disk errors don’t happen, run Windows’ Error Checking utility every once in a while, especially if you’re a heavy user. Like Disk Defragmenter, you can access this by right clicking on a hard drive, going to Properties then Tools, and clicking on Check Now.
5. Make Use of the ReadyBoost Feature
Introduced in Vista, ReadyBoost is a feature that speeds up data processing by using non-volatile flash memory (like, say, your USB flash drive) as additional RAM. To access this utility, simply right-click on your flash drive and go to the handily-labeled ReadyBoost tab.
Every machine will reach a point where it just won’t perform as well as it used to, and a computer is no exception. They all will eventually need a bit of maintenance to keep them running smoothly. With the tips above, you can definitely keep your PC’s speed up (as well as extend its lifespan) for as long as possible.