There are plenty of guides on how to speed up your computer or Laptop out there. However, many of them are:

  • Out of date.
  • Encourage you to purchase unneeded software.
  • Tend to be very basic, and don’t cover everything.

So we thought we’d take a stab at it here at Roxbourne, and provide you with 10 tips that cover all basics to speed up your computer.

I will recommend you download some software within my tips; however there’s no need to worry – they are all absolutely FREE.

I will also be referring you to other articles which I think explain some of my recommendations better than I can. If it’s already out there, there’s little point re-writing it!

1. Freeing hard drive space (XP/Vista/Windows 7)

First of all, download ‘CCleaner Slim’ from CCleaner.com. Once installed, keep to the ‘cleaner’ tab, and press ‘Run Cleaner’! As an example, I worked on a friends laptop recently that was running slowly, I noticed it only had 0.5GB free…I ran CCleaner and it freed up 5GB. So a big help there, and a noticeable speed increase was achieved straight away.

Conclusion: I recommend to keep at least 20% of your maximum HD space, free so your computer to run smoothly. Running CCleaner once a week or so will help you achieve this.

2. Increasing hard drive performance (XP/Vista/Windows 7)

Hard Drive

First of all, make sure the ‘indexing service’ is turned off. You can do this by going into ‘My Computer’ via your start menu, or desktop icon. Right click your main hard drive and click properties.
At the bottom of the dialogue box untick ‘Allow indexing service to index the disk for fast file searching’. It will then apply this to all your files and you will soon receive a warning that it cannot be applied to a file, just click ignore all.

2b. Are your IDE Channels running in ‘PIO Mode’? (Applies to IDE Devices, NOT SATA)

This causes your hard drives to run at a fraction of their potential speed. Your IDE Channels should be running in ‘Ultra DMA Mode’. To check this, right click ‘My Computer’, go to Properties > Hardware > Device Manager. Double click ‘IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers’ to expand. Then double click ‘Primary IDE Channel’ and click the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab. If for ‘Device 0′ in the Current Transfer Mode box it says ‘PIO Mode’ then you need to set ‘Transfer mode’ to ‘DMA if available’, and click okay, and then right click Primary IDE Channel and click ‘Uninstall’ and then ‘OK’. Repeat the process for the ‘Secondary IDE Channel’ too. Then reset your computer. This should fix your problem, and you’ll notice a HUGE speed increase.

2c. Defrag your hard drives (XP/Vista/Windows 7)

Download a program called ‘Defraggler‘ by Piriform (Who also make CCleaner) from filehippo.com. First of all, make sure you have at least 20% free space on your hard drive for effective defragging. Once you’ve done that go ahead and click ‘Analyse’ with your main hard drive selected. This will show you had bad it is in it’s current state. It should only take a few seconds. Pay attention to the % Fragmentation, if its above 5% i’d go for it, and click the “Defrag’ button at the bottom of the app.

Now, go and make yourself a cup of tea and watch some TV, it WILL take a while if you’ve never defragged before. If you’ve got a fairly quick computer you can continue to use it, and let it defrag in the background.

3. Clean your computer of all Spyware/Adware etc. (XP/Vista/Windows 7)

Download ‘Spybot Search and Destroy‘ from download.com. During installation when you get to ‘Select Components’ click the dropdown box and click ‘Compact Installation’. Keep going, once you get to ‘Select Additional Tasks’ untick everything.

Once you’ve installed, fire it up, and go straight to ‘Immunize’ on the left, wait a second while it scans and then click ‘Immunize’ at the top left. This prevents spyware getting onto your computer in the first place.
Now that you’ve done that go to ‘Search & Destroy’ on the left and click ‘Check for Problems’. Again, this process may take a while, anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes.

Unfortunately spybot isn’t good enough on its own. I recommend downloading ‘SUPERantispyware‘ from download.com. Once installed, make sure you ‘Check for updates…’. Then click ‘Scan Your Computer’. Depending on how much time you have perform either a ‘Quick Scan’ or a ‘Complete Scan’.

4. Controlling how many running processes you have (XP/Vista/Windows 7)

Depending on how much Memory your system has you should be limiting your background processes or “tasks”. Unfortunately some software and drivers can add unnecessary processes to your boot-up. You should never really need more than 40 background tasks, if you’re using over 50 and you only have 1GB of ram, the system will start to struggle. You should seriously think about disabling some of those processes to free up some RAM and speed up your boot up time.

To try and distinguish which of your processes are unnecessary PC Pitstop’s “Quick Program Scan” can help. You will need to use Internet Explorer and click the ‘Scan Now’ button. Pay attention to the colour codes.

Now that you’ve installed CCleaner from step 1, open it up and click ‘tools’ then click the ‘start-up’ button. This will show you everything that’s set to start at boot-up. Click the processes that aren’t necessary and click disable.

Here’s a list of some common tasks that might give you an idea: PC Pitstop Top 100 Unwanted Processes.

5. Disable unnecessary services (XP Only)

If any part of this step scares you, just skip it and move onto the next one.

Okay lets get started, type “services.msc” in the Run… box in your start menu. Then visit this page over at ‘Black Viper‘. Scroll down to the table of services. Pay attention to the ‘Safe’ column and and go through making sure they match with your list of services.

6. Defrag your pagefile (XP/Vista/Windows 7)

Its easier to refer you to this Article over at HowToGeek.com.

7. Defrag & compact your registry (XP/Vista/Windows 7)

Registry compacting optimises your registry by removing gaps and wasted space, this improves the whole system performance.

Download Free Registry Defrag from registry-clean.net. It’s straight forward to use, just click the ‘Anaylze Registry’ button, it’ll take a few minutes and advise you on what to do next. You will need to restart your computer once its done.

8. Tune & Optimise your Internet Connection in Windows (XP/Vista/Windows 7)

Download TCP Optimiser (Direct Link) from speedguide.net. You don’t need to install anything, it runs straight from the .exe.
First of all, select your connection speed with the slider. Most people in the UK should have either 2,000kbps (2mb) or up to 8,000kbps (8mb). Then select the correct network adapter that you’re using for your internet. Then click the ‘Optimal Settings’ button and click ‘Apply changes’. It’ll let you know what changes it’s making click OK and then restart your computer.

9. Tweak your registry (XP/Vista/Windows 7)

Its time to download another program! It’s free, don’t worry! It’s called ‘Tweak Now!‘. . Click ‘Windows Core‘, Click the ‘Windows Time Out’ tab and click the ‘Recommended’ button. Now go to the ‘Cache‘ tab. Tick ‘Improve Core System Performance’ if you have at least 1.00GB of ram. Then click ‘Try to detect your processor’s L2 cache size’ and click ok. Now click the ‘miscellaneous tab‘ and tick ‘Disable NTFS Last access time’ and ‘Automatically restart explorer (Windows Desktop)’. Make sure everything else is UNTICKED on that tab.

Now click save on the top left of the dialogue box. It’ll tell you, you need to reset. Go ahead and do so.

10. Disable some useless Windows Visual Effects (Screenshots apply to XP, however works on Vista/Windows 7)

First of all, make sure your Control Panel is displaying in classic mode. It’s a lot easier for future use as well.


Go to Start Menu > Control Panel > System > Advanced Tab > Performance (Settings) > Visual Effects Tab.
Untick everything apart from:

  • Show smooth edges of screen fonts
  • Use Common tasks in folders
  • Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop
  • Use visual styles on windows and buttons

Then click apply and OK. You should notice a pretty decent increase in response as you go around Windows.

That’s it, I hope you enjoyed my tips! Leave your comments if you had any trouble with all the above instructions.
Peace.

Sean Bullivant - Roxbourne Ltd – Web Design, Marketing and SEO Consultants – Lichfield Staffordshire Birmingham Midlands