02-16-2016 12:55 PM
Does your system seem to be slower than it was when you first purchased it? Does your system take a longer time to startup, open the same programs, perform the same actions, and overall does the performance just not add up to what it used to? This probably sounds like a commercial you may have heard before, but stick with me, we’re definitely going somewhere with this!
These are all good questions and honestly are helpful evaluators to look at if your system indeed needs some maintenance done. Of course, you can spend $100’s at a local computer store to get your system cleaned, or look into programs that claim to “tune your system” for some price or another.
Surprisingly, all of this can be avoided by general and routine computer maintenance. Fear not BestBuy users, the journey ahead may seem scary, but after you perform your first maintenance I assure you will be confident doing regular care on your own!
Let’s begin with uninstalling programs you don’t need. This can be a big, time consuming process if you have a really old system that hasn’t been cleaned in ages. For Windows 7/8/10 users, you will want to click on the Windows logo or Start button at the bottom left of your screen and search for “Programs and Features.” Click on the Programs and Features header, which will take you to where you can uninstall just about any software you have on your computer. You may want to do research on what each program is for before you actually remove them, but common candidates usually include toolbars, shopping, and coupon programs. Things such as your security software, Microsoft products, and other related software may be better off left installed.
Next, let’s run a full virus scan. This may take a while, but will be well worth it before proceeding. Once that’s done, we can move on to Startup. Items in your “startup” are the programs that initially load when you start up your computer. Generally speaking, the more programs you have set at startup, the heavier the load will be and the longer it takes for your computer to be ready for use.
To access your Startup menu on Windows 7, click on the Start button and type in “msconfig” and click on it. From there you should see a pop up with a bunch of tabs; you can then click on the “Startup” tab. For Windows 8/10 users you can press “Ctrl+Shift+Esc” to bring up your Task Manager. From there, you should be able to click on the tab for “startup”.
Once you are in the Startup tab you will want to get familiar with what programs are in fact running at startup. You can right click on a program you wish to disable. Required programs for the system will not allow you to disable as a heads up.
As someone who fiddles with graphics and videos I have several Adobe products loading at startup. This range of software places a very heavy load on your system and you must ask yourself “am I going to need this running at startup?” If the answer is no, then you should probably disable it. Certain programs such as programs that “sync” your work or update your security software are examples of items you will want to leave enabled purely for easy access to updating and syncing.
You can also check the Manufacturer/Publisher column to help distinguish items that can be disabled at startup, being careful not to disable items like “synaptics pointing device driver” (which is the trackpad on many laptops) and items related to your anti-virus. In short, any program you disable under startup will have to be manually started.
Many people may say that there may not be a huge effect on your system… that could be true but as someone who repairs and builds systems for a living I can vouch that optimizing your startup can save you a lot of time in the beginning!
Next, let’s talk about utilizing Disk Cleanup as another maintenance option you can perform. Disk cleaning allows for less processing or filtering through the actual hard drive that has to be done. Imagine your computer like a giant library. The more books (software, files, etc.) you have the longer it will take to find the one specific book you need.
Windows 7/8 and 10 have made it extremely easy to find your disk cleanup tool, unlike older operating systems. Click on the Windows logo or Start button at the bottom left of your screen and search for “Disk Cleanup”. There are several options here and many administrative options as well. My best suggestion is to only clean your temporary files, and old update files. I would save your old recoveries as you never know when they may become handy.
Additionally, BestBuy.com offers a program that is Geek Squad approved called CCleaner Professional. It’s available for download through the manufacturer’s website as well. This program works great if you don’t want to do the work yourself and would like it as automated for you as possible.
Next, let’s talk about defragging your hard drive for a moment. People have various opinions about whether you still need to do this with your computer. To be honest, modern operating systems since Windows Vista have been handling this automatically and intelligently for you already, so you don’t really need to do it.
Lastly, we want to talk about the one physical maintenance item you can do for your computer. For those “do it yourself” people out there, look at the vents on your computer and if you see it is really dusty you may want to consider getting some canned(compressed) air and blowing out the dust.
Make sure to use short, controlled bursts so as to not overspin any cooling fans. Also never use an air compressor as the pressure will almost certainly damage the fans. Do not try any other method besides this as static electricity is very likely to damage your computer. It should also be noted not to take off the cover of your computer or anything to clean for dust as this can void any warranties you may have.
Looking for even more performance from your computer? Check out our article on hardware upgrades!
02-16-2016 03:47 PM
Well said, or written as it may be. I get things like this from friends and family quite often.
I also like to clear the history and cookies on browsers and occasionaly reset the browser to get rid of any apps or servcies that may have attached themselves.
We were in a trivia contest this weekend. A couple brough their all in one computer that their kids had been using.
It took forever to boot and was dragging really slow. There were ready check with Geek Squad and see if they could get it in right away to get it fixed. I told them I would take a look and did just about everything you recommended as well as flushing the browsers and it was almost like they had a new computer.
08-10-2016 01:26 AM
Well put, the one thing I would point out is that physical media such as HDDs are not limited if there is an excessive amount of data on them. It comes down to the speed of the HDD and the SATA controller limitations.