Over the years, I’ve come to both love and hate Windows. When I used XP, I constantly felt like bashing my head through a wall. After Vista, I was completely happy. Then came the Service Pack 2 release and the wish for self inflicted violence came back. Now there is Windows 7 and, with time, I’m sure it will bring on its own set of frustrations (however, I do not have this version of the operating system and am speaking in regards to previous releases).
So for those of you who are still PC users, I have some recommendations to make your systems run faster. Before starting- it is important that you create a restore point for your computer so that if something goes wrong, you are safe!
1- Uninstall it all
It is amazing just how much crap we have to install on our computers to use them. Some of these programs aren’t even actual programs, they are programs designed to help you install other programs. So from Start, go into Control Panel. Select Programs & Features and let the work begin. Go through the list of everything on your computer. If it isn’t software that you are currently using then uninstall. Most of the time, we have to download plug-ins and then totally forget about them. If you come across an item that is unfamiliar- STOP! Just because it is something you aren’t aware of, do NOT get rid of it automatically. Use the internet and search to find out what it is for. If you don’t need it for the essential part of your system then feel free to delete.
2- Program files store everything.
Despite uninstalling programs, the files are still going to be on your computer. You have to manually get rid of them. In order to do this, you will need to go back and forth between the Control Panel’s Programs & Features and the main file folder. From Start, select Computer. The drivers on your machine will come up- choose the local disk (usually C). Find the “Program Files” folder. At this point, you will need to go line by line to get rid of the data. Don’t worry about opening the folders unless you aren’t sure what is in it. If it has been uninstalled from Programs & Features, then you don’t need the file folder anymore. Be careful though! Your system will warn you if you are attempting to delete folders that contain data that is essential for function.
3- Shadow files are the enemy
What few of us realize is that Windows is set up to save multiple copies of files. When software or programs are installed, the item is stored in more than one location. When an item is created, it is saved in every single version that Windows uses or has ever used. Suddenly, you have five copies of the same information. There is really no need for this. To prevent your system from taking up the extra space, get rid of the shadow program. It is different depending upon the version of Windows that you use but it isn’t necessary.
4- External hard drives are your friend
We often save programs and files to our computers out of convenience when we don’t need to. Hooking up an external hard drive enables us to save programs that are vital without losing portability. If the computer crashes, the data is stored somewhere else and safe. Externals aren’t a replacement for full system storage. Many people are now using online back-up programs instead of traditional hardware devices but that is a personal preference. Change the automatic download and save location to your external for your default setting. Then make sure that you regularly create restore points on your back-up. Think of this as your “just in case”.
5- Fix those drivers
Few people realize that their PC can be running so many drivers and devices at one time that the memory is full before they even open a program. The lack of memory available is what slows your computer down. A big way to boost the speed of your machine is to stop your system from running operations that aren’t being used. In other words, if you don’t need them to be running; they shouldn’t be.
If you are frustrated with the speed and overall operation of your computer, it isn’t a difficult process to make changes. Even small alterations can make a difference!
Note: It is a bad idea for anyone who isn’t knowledgeable to start changing the way a computer works without consulting an expert. So don’t start tinkering around unless you are certain about what you are doing. And create a restore point before changing anything!