Archive for June 2010

Don’t Waste Your Money “Speeding” Up Your Computer

Maybe you’ve seen them on TV, the commercials for “”, “” or “”. And online you’ll find even more like “SpeedUpMyPC”. They all promise to make your computer MUCH faster. All you have to do is download and run their “free” product. Of course, after you run it, the program finds all kinds of problems with your computer, and offers to fix it for you. All you have to do is BUY the product at this point, and $30-$40 later, your computer is (maybe) a LITTLE faster. But it doesn’t stop there; they then offer to sell you other software to fix other “problems” that may exist with your computer.

What do these programs do? They do what you can easily do for free. Mostly they delete temp files, cookies and unnecessary registry entries. Deleting temp files and cookies won’t have any noticeable impact on speed, but if you want to you can easily do both yourself. To delete your temp files, click on the “Computer” icon on your desktop or “Computer” in your “Start” menu. Right click on your C: drive and choose “Properties”. Right there you’ll see a button that says “Disk Cleanup”. Click the button, check the boxes, click on “OK” and you’re done. Cookies can be deleted in the Tools/Options menus of your web browser (personally, I don’t spend time worrying about cookies.)

I don’t recommend you mess around trying to clean-up your registry (the registry is a VERY LONG list of settings telling your computer what programs are installed, where you like your icons, the color of your background, etc.) If you know what you’re doing and know how to back-up the registry before making changes, then you probably stopped reading long before now. If you don’t know how, then just leave it alone. Using a registry cleaner MIGHT make your computer start ½ a second faster, but you risk making a change that can make your computer impossible to boot, in other words “don’t try this at home.”

So what is REALLY slowing down your computer? After years of use, your Windows machine starts to use more and more memory. There are things like neat little tools that give you the weather or news on your desktop, printer software, camera software, instant messaging programs, etc. In addition, there are programs that came with your computer when you bought it that you may not even use. Programs like AOL, Quicken or Microsoft Money, the manufacturers “support” program, trial software and others. Many of these have small parts of them that start up each time you start your computer. With enough of these little “starter” files running in the background, the memory (not your hard drive) runs out and soon your computer starts slowing down.

The best thing you can do (and those paid software programs can’t) is remove the programs you don’t need and/or use. If you use Windows XP, go to your Control Panel and look for the “Add/Remove Programs” icon. This will show you a list of all the programs installed on your computer. For Windows Vista and Windows 7, the Control Panel now calls it “Programs and Features”. You need to be careful to remove only programs you’re SURE you’re not using – don’t go crazy with it.

The two biggest things that make a difference are best left to a professional. There are entries in the registry that can be manually deleted to stop programs from starting up with your computer. Also, adding memory is easy and cheap, but you need to be sure you’re putting in the right type for your computer.

Speeding up your computer doesn’t have to be expensive. If you are going to spend your money, spend it on the right things, you can take care of the easy stuff yourself for free.

Next month we’ll cover the basics of your computer’s memory and hard drive (how they affect the speed of your computer) and we’ll say goodbye to Windows 2000.

Until next time….

Laurie Scott / Tek-Chic Systems
“Because Everybody Needs a Geek in Their Life”®

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