Marshall Adult Education



15.  TECH TIP:  Improve Your Computer’s Performance – Part 1


Is your computer running sluggishly lately?  Does it need some “computer Geritol?” (Anybody remember Geritol - it contains 26 vitamins and minerals). This is the first part of a 2-part Tech Tip on how to improve your computer’s performance.  Here are the first five of ten tips - most are free – some will cost you a few bucks.


(1)  Uninstall seldom or never used programs. 

Use it or lose it – that’s my motto.  I uninstall any program I haven’t used in the last several months to a year.  The more programs on your computer, the harder your processor (CPU) has to work to keep up with everything.  To uninstall software, go to Start -> Settings -> Control Panels -> Add or Remove Programs.  Remove all the programs that you don’t need. 

Also, if you really don’t need that data anymore, delete it or back it up to a CD – get it off your hard drive.


(2)  Increase your RAM:

What’s RAM?  It’s the memory chips in your computer used to run programs and temporarily store the documents and projects you are working on.   Do you know how much RAM you have?  Right-click on My Computer and then click on Properties.  You can find out how many megabytes of RAM you have.  If you have only 64, you should upgrade to 128 or more.  If you have only 128, you should upgrade to 256 or more.  If you 256, you may want to upgrade to 512.  How much RAM is enough?  It depends what kind of computing you do. If you do a little to moderate amount of computing and you work mainly with text files (Word), 128 or 256 may be enough.  If you work with graphics, video, or play high end games, then you may need 512 or more.  You can never have too much RAM – the more you have the better your computer will run.  And best of all, RAM is pretty cheap right now.


(3)  Defrag You Hard Drive.

This simple task can really speed things up for you.  After weeks and months (and years) of use, the files on your hard drive get fragmented.  That means your hard drive has to spin excessively to open documents and save documents.  It takes longer to open or save to a fragmented hard drive.  To defrag, go to Start -> All Programs -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmenter.  You should defrag once a month.  It takes a couple hours, so do it when you have some time to spare – like at night when you’re sleeping.


(4)  Trim Your Startup Files: 

When you start your computer, there are a number of programs that automatically startup.  Some of the programs are essential – some are not essential and not needed.  You can configure your computer to not startup the non-essential programs and save a lot of system resources and memory.  Read this Tech Tip to learn how to shut off non-essential programs at start-up.

You can spend a few bucks and get a program that will help you do this task? Visit the Start-up Cop website – it’ll cost you 6 bucks to 20 bucks, depending on which option you use.,1895,2173,00.asp


(5)  Configure Your System Properties.

In Windows XP, You can adjust the Performance Options to improve your system performance.  Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on My Computer
  2. Select Properties
  3. Click on the Advance Tab
  4. Click on Settings in the Performance section

Here is a lengthy list of settings you can select of deselect.  If you deselect all of them, you will be trading a rather bland look for better performance.  If you select all of them, you will have a cool looking computer but will sacrifice some performance.  Try doing both.  Then you may want to strike up a compromise.  Here are the ones I deselect.

  • Fade or slide menus into view
  • Fade of slide ToolTips into view
  • Fade out menu items after clicking
  • Show shadows after menus
  • Slide open combo boxes
  • Slide taskbar buttons
  • Use a background image for each folder type
  • Use common tasks in the folders

If you have a new computer that has a 2.2  billion mhz processor (hey - there’s no such thing!) – OK, it you have a new, super fast computer, changing these settings may not have a lot of effect.  But for a lot of computers, you may actually notice an increase in speed and performance by doing these tweaks.


Next week – the next 5 tips to improving you computer’s performance



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E-Mail:    Marshall Adult Education