A Guide by www.pcheadache.co.uk

There are a number of reasons why this happens but generally it’s due to a lack of system memory (RAM – Random Access Memory). Say your PC or Laptop came with 512MB of RAM. When Windows loads it takes away a big slice of that for all of the running processes that it needs to load Windows.

Next comes your applications, you know the ones that hog the bottom right hand corner of the screen? These are all loading individually and each take another slice of precious RAM. Then you are down to say 100MB of available Memory and you haven’t even started. You open up Internet Explorer or Word (or both) and they each take another 50MB. The result is a very slow PC, one that is constantly chugging away paging to create Virtual Memory.

Even if you have 1GB of RAM you will still see a big increase in performance so all we need to do here is minimise the number of start-up applications at boot time. This will make a huge difference as less applications starting = less start-up time + less apps using RAM = more free RAM!. Follow this short guide and you can drastically improve your system performance.

So what do i do?

Step 1

Go to START and RUN and type MSCONFIG and press Enter. (in Vista or 7 just use the search bar above the Start button).

Step 2

Go to the Startup tab of the configuration tool and you will see many ticked items. These are all loading when your PC starts Windows each day. Untick anything that you do not use.

Things like Skype, Office, Adobe Reader, Quicktime, etc etc you do not need these to be running all day every day. In fact all you really need is your Anti Virus software and your Printer but if you use Skype, Windows Live messenger regularly then leave them alone. Most of it is common sense but you can’t do any damage here so don’t worry. If you make a mistake just reverse the process and retick and reboot. Finally – Untick the boxes, confirm the change and restart the PC when prompted. When you reboot a gray box appears telling you that changes have been made. Just tick the box and press OK. You are done and hopefully already you can see a difference but there is more…

Step 3

Run a free clean up utility that will remove all of the junk that builds up on your system over time – log files, temporary internet files, temp files – they all sit there forever building up. Download CCleaner it’s free.

Run the setup for CCLeaner – Next Next etc etc just the default action is all that is needed and it will open at the end..

I would go with the default and just press the Run Cleaner button but if for example you didn’t want to lose your history (last visited websites etc) then simply untick this option. For Outlook users i would say go to the Applications tab and untick Outlook 2003, 2007 etc as otherwise you lose the auto buildup info of email addresses that appear as you type.

Step 4

Using the same tool run a Registry scan. The Registry consists of thousands of settings for every action and program on the system. When you install and uninstall applications sometimes this information is left over in the Registry and over time builds up. A clean Registry is a happy Registry so once in a while (say every 3 months) use this tool to scan and fix any problems it finds. Don’t be alarmed to find hundreds of entries if you have never done it before. Simply press Scan for Issues in the Registry section and see what it finds. You don’t have to even go through with it you can see the results first.

Now press “Fix Selected Issues” and the following message will appear

Press “YES” and then Save the File in your Documents folder. It is very important to save a backup of the Registry scan just in case you notice any issues then you can just double click the saved file and agree to import the data back into the Registry. I have never had an issue with this so don’t worry but always backup first just in case!

Step 5

Run a Malware Scan because even if you do not have any viruses you most likely have at the very least a few websearch tool bars clogging up your Internet Browser. You may be surprised at what it finds even if you have Anti- Virus software already installed. Also it’s free so why not! Also if you did get a problem such as a Fake Anti Virus issue one day then it’s sometimes easier to have the software already installed on your PC before you get it as they tend to stop you downloading them once your infected!

Download Malwarebytes here. It has helped me disinfected hundreds of PC’s over the last few years – i really do owe those boys a drink 🙂

Run the setup as usual just click all of the default options and at the end it will download any updates. If for any reason after the update is hasn’t reopened then there is a shortcut on your desktop with a white M on a red background

A “Quick Scan” is usually fine and takes about 10 minutes (use CCleaner first otherwise it will scan all of your temporary internet files and is very boring. If you have multiple Windows Accounts then run CCleaner for all of them first)

Anything Malware Bytes finds it will highlight in red numerically and at the end you are given the option to “show the results” and finally “remove” any offenders! Reboot if necessary and you hopefully have just made your PC even better

Step 6

It’s probably worth Defragging your system especially if using Windows XP as it seems to make some difference. Basically Windows will save files to the hard drive and for speed it might save a bit here and a bit there. Over time and with movement of files on the Hard Drive these parts of one file may be nowhere near each other (fragmented) and now when you open the file the PC has to chug away and find each bit before it opens it. A Defragment will put files near each over that are the same so that they are continuous making for less stress on the hard drive and faster action.

In XP to run a defrag go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and finally Disk Defragmenter. Vista and 7 simply need to type “Defrag” in the search bar above the Start Button.

“Analyse” the disk first as it tells you if it needs doing or not. If it recommends you do then kick it off when you don’t need to access the PC for an hour or two and let it do it’s thing

Step 7

Very easy and entirely optional but test drive Googles Chrome Internet Browser it runs like lightning. If you are using Internet Explorer or Firefox you will notice an immediate difference in speed. You can use it alongside the other browsers you don’t have to make a permanent choice so give it a try you will not be disappointed! Download Chrome here

Step 8

My last step is optional and unfortunately it isn’t free but combined with the above it can be the most effective. Put more RAM in your PC or Laptop as it can literally feel like you have just bought a new system. i will cover this in a later update but the above procedures will definitely make a difference. i have noticed that even recovering as little as 50MB of RAM can be the difference between waiting 2 minutes or 10 minutes when turning on your PC.

I hope this section has been of some help to you and who knows you might be able to do this on someone else’s PC.