Computer Tip of the Week: Speeding up your computer for free

Have you noticed your computer is slowing down? If you’re running windows, here’s a few things to run through to resolve the program.

  1. Check out how much free space you have on your C drive. You should have at least 15-20% free for normal operation. To check this click on My Computer in XP or Computer in Vista. And look under the C drive, it will tell you how much space you’re using, divide what’s available by the total * 100 to get your free percentage. If you’re low, go to Add/Remove programs and remove some of the programs there you never use. You can also use a utility like WinDirStat (great program!) to find large files clogging up your computer.

  2. If you are running norton antivirus or mcafee antivirus and your subscription is up, remove them. Both programs slow down your computer considerably. Then reboot your computer and go install AVG, which has a free alternative which rivals the paid versions of the above and doesn’t slow your computer down. You download AVG Antivirus and AntiSpyware here. After installing them, update and run both to remove any viruses or spyware.

  3. Run the system defragmenter. You should do this at least once a month and if you’ve never done it, then it’s a reason your computer is going slow. To get to it go to the Start Menu->All Programs->Accessories->System Tools->Defragmenter. Run this on all the hard drives you have on your system, most of you will just have one. If you’ve never run it before, run it even if it tells you that you don’t need to.

  4. This one is a little more advanced, and top secret :smiley: but you guys can handle it, if you have any questions, just ask here. Click on Start, and type in MSCONFIG into the run box and click enter. A program called the System Configuration will open up. Click on the Startup tab (last one in xp, 2nd to last in vista). This is a list of every program that starts when your computer starts up. Most of it does not need to be here!! You can safely uncheck every program here without killing your computer, so don’t be afraid (though you usually want a few to remain checked). If you find you need something checked, just go back and recheck it after you reboot. So, the question is, which programs do you want to remove? Here’s how you tell.

First, uncheck everything related to quicktime and real player, they always manage to check themsevles. Expand the command column so you can see the entire column of file names. If you recognize the program, and don’t care if it starts when Windows starts (you can always manually start the program, like quicktime) then uncheck it. If you are unsure what the program is then type in just the file name itself, like Acrotray.exe into google and the first few sites listed will tell you exactly what it is. In this case, adobe acrobat. Acrobat is actually partially running on your system even though you aren’t using it! Why? Well, for example if you were running Home Inspector Pro which uses Acrobat, then your first pdf creation of the day would start up a whole 3-5 seconds faster. Not really worth it, so uncheck the box. Go through all the programs, typing them into google and uncheck the ones you don’t want to start. Usually there is a touchpad program for laptops and a few other programs you might want to keep but 90% you will uncheck. Just ask here if you are unsure, or uncheck it and reboot and see what happens. I guarantee this will speed up your machine quite a bit. Often times you will even find a virus or spyware listed here as well.

Those are a few relatively easy ways to speed up your computer. There are others such as buying more ram, but those cost money.

Did any of these tip help speed up your computer? Let us know!

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With System Configuration under the General tab there is Normal, Diagnostic, and Selective startup. If it is already checked at Selective Startup, should you just go with that or go to to the Startup tab and uncheck anyway?

Go to the startup tab and uncheck the ones you don’t need anyways. If it’s at selective it just means that somebody already did this for you at some point or a program did.

By the way the msconfig prevents programs from starting so you’ll notice the speed increase and startup time increase after you reboot.

Thanks Dominic. The “somebody” that did it, must have been who ever programed it. No one else has ever used it and I’ve done nothing. But I know a lot of programs pre-installed you never use. That’s why I checked. Thanks again…:slight_smile:

Sure thing. Tons of things come pre-installed. Those you can also remove from the control panel->Add/remove programs or just prevent from starting like you’re doing right now.

Fully agree with AVG, Dominic!
Got rid of those other monsters a long time ago. AVG & CCleaner are regular maintenance items, as well as defrag.

I’ve always been a little leery of MSconfig, so thanks for the guidance on that!

Don’t be leary, easy to check the boxes back if you really need something. Google search will turn up any unknowns.

AVG has been great for me for about a year now. Got rid about 1/2 a GB when I cleared off Norton.

As always, thanks for the awesome information. I continually learn something new from you.

Such as: On the AVG website, there is an “Anti-Rootkit” download. I know very little about Rootkits. Your thoughts please.

Hi Jeff,

Glad to help :smiley: Go ahead and download and run that, you don’t need it continually running though if that’s an option. A rootkit is a really bad virus that basically embeds itself into your operating system and is able to act will full permissions. It is common for guys to take over websites and install root kits so that they can control the website and cover their tracks easily. But there have been instances of root kits install on windows machines. In fact I believe it was Sony that has now TWICE had a root kit on a music CD and if you put the cd in your computer you were infected.


Thanks Dominic!Also, one of my PCs has been taken over by something called AWOLA. Are you familiar with that and, if so, how do I get rid of it???Thanks again!

I think that many people find trojans, viruses and other items that are hidden within the various systems of their computers when they run all the different anti-virus, spybot and adaware programs.

The problem that I have seen is that with the modern operating systems and their auto-backup or restore features, the program is also hidden within the mirror image. The main program is deleted but when the computer is restarted the next time, these hidden programs automatically reload themselves from the mirror image.

I spend one evening every month performing a full system cleaning including my anti-spyware programs and anti virus program with the system restore turned off. On the very few occasions that I have run into a problem on a friends computer or even mine, I will boot the system into “safe mode” and then run all the programs. There are some nasty ones out there that hide deep in the system and this tends to get them. Once the programs are complete, I defrag and turn the system restore back on. 3 computers, all clean, no problems.

AWOLA is a program pretending to be a spyware cleaning program that’s really not. Try to let AVG or your virus scan program remove it. If it can’t , reboot into safe mode like Stephen suggested (it’s always better to run this stuff in Safe Mode) by restarting your computer and clicking F8 right before the Windows black screen with the bar moving across appears, then click safe mode. Rerun your virus scan there.

Manual removal instructions can be found here: . Don’t bother downloading their scanner, just follow the instructions for removal.

Thx Dom and Steve. I’ll give it a try.

I have used AVG for 3 years now & I will NEVER have any of the Norton or Mcaffee resource hogs again.

In addition to the ones you guys mentioned here are a couple more good spyware/adware programs that have great free versions

Spybot Search & Destroy:

and AdAware by Lavasoft:

Those are both great programs too. But if you install them don’t let them run all the time. Only run them manually. You don’t want 3 spyware programs running at all times or your comptuer will be as bad off as if it was running one of the hogs.

Hey Dom thanks for the tips.
If you do not mind much I would like to add that when running ad aware you have got to be careful as unlike the spybot program, you delete spyware manuely and can sometimes delete things which you want such as cookies.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
I always recomend spy bot and ad aware to comcast customers.
By the way thanks for the msconfig tip as it helped me last month, however I find that sometimes it does not load for internet radio, and is replaced by windows media player, which I do not want.Hmmmm maybe I need to go back and allow Real Player on startup?


I always knew about the MSCONFIG, but how do we know what the heck some of those files are? They have strange letters and numbers which I have no idea what file they control.

Is there a cheat sheet out there somewhere to figure out what files are what?

Yup, that’s what I was mentioning above. Type in the blabla.exe into google and the first few sites that come up are sites that will tell you what ever exe does by it’s name. If you still aren’t sure, ask here and I’ll tell you.

No problem. You will need to change the file association. Go into real player there’s a place in options to do it, or you can do it by changing the file extension associations, but that’s a little more work.