How Do I Keep Windows 7 from Slowing Down?

I have been using Windows 7 for almost a year now and I haven’t noticed a lag in speed since the first install. I have been installing and unistalling drivers and programs and currently I do not using any startup programs to speed things up. However, my parents, whose PC runs on older hardware has seen a slight slow down on boot and general program use. We certainly cannot expect Windows to take all of the abuse an average user throws at it and have it continue to speed up or stay the same, so I gave my parents some elementary, yet helpful tips for maintaing their PC’s performance, not just in Windows 7, but in any version of Windows. I thought this might be helpful for other users as well:

1. You’re running out of space – As is often the case with PC’s who have had a Windows installation for a while without reformatting, an at-capacity hard drive may slow down your Windows 7 installation. Most users will constantly install new software and never give a thought about removing previous installations or unused softwares titles. I can’t tell you how many times a friend has asked me to speed up their computer, only to find that they have a five-page list of programs on their PC that needs to be removed.

2. Time to run a disk defragmenter – When a user is constantly installing an uninstalling programs, a hard drive will leave pieces of those programs in different places throughout the drive. When the user goes to use a specific program, the hard drive will need to search different locations to access that information, creating a longer wait time. To remedy this, a hard drive should be defragmented fairly often. I would say every few months, at least, to keep everything running smoothly.

3. Garbage-ware and installing more and more and more programs – This point is almost directly related to point number 1 because new programs are the main reason for a hard drive being at capacity. It is worth mentioning that small programs and garbage-ware downloaded from the internet are often a huge cause of a PC slowing down. My rule of thumb is to only have programs installed that are going to be used on a daily basis or are a necessity. Anything else is just going to get in the way.

4. Startup programs kill boot times – I am always looking at speeding up boot times and usually this can be achieved by keeping those startup programs from loading everytime Windows does. Most garbage-ware comes with a small program that loads itself on Windows startup and stays running, in the background, slowing things down even more. For those not used to solving this problem, you can access a list of startup programs by clicking on Start then typing ‘msconfig’ into the search box (in earlier versions of Windows:  Start->Run and type in ‘msconfig‘ and click OK). You will then click on the Startup tab and uncheck those programs that you’d prefer not to have run at startup. (Do some research on which programs to uncheck, because some may need to start up when Windows does)

5. Certain Security software is sometimes a drag – While a few security suites have slimmed down their software to keep from hogging resources, there are a few name suites that continue to slow PC’s down because they are constantly running. You may want to test a few out and see which ones are known to hog resources.

6. It may be time for a memory upgrade – While Windows 7 has made leaps and bounds in managing programs and memory, Microsoft’s new OS is certainly no miracle worker. It can only do so much with so little. If you are trying to run a million programs on only 1GB of Ram or less, then it might be time to pop open the wallet and invest in some more. After Windows has used up the allotted memory, it replaces actual Ram with a page file, which is much slower. If you have noticed your system slowing down after much use, you might want to do a memory check.

7. Shut down every now and then – There is great debate over whether it is better to shut down all the time or keep the system running. Personally, I subscribe to the belief that shutting the system down every night is best for my system. (Mostly because I like to refresh my Ram and start over) This may be a bit more often than necessary, but if I don’t plan to use my PC for a few hours, it is turned off. I have a very quick-booting Windows 7 installation, so I’m not bothered by the constant powering on and off.

Some users always argue that turning a computer on and off constantly is harder on the hard drive, but hard drive manufacturers note that this is not the case with modern hard drives and heat is usually the common denominator for hard drive failures.

8. Remove the crapware from a new PC – This is very common with store-bought PC’s, so I don’t believe that I need to go into much detail here. Navigate to add-remove programs and remove anything that is not necessary and any program trials that you will not be subscribing to.

 

Of course there are many reasons why a Windows installation could start to slow down, but these are the most common culprits that I have found. Hope it helps.

Let us know if you have found any specific keys to keeping your Windows 7 installation running quickly and I will add it to this list and credit you accordingly.

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15 Responses to How Do I Keep Windows 7 from Slowing Down?

  1. Mohammed November 10, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

    Thank you for your tips.

    In case of your laptop has SSD, many of experts recommend that it doesn’t need to be defragmented. However, I have SSD and I did defragmentation and notice an improvement of my laptop’s performance.

    What is your point of view?

    Thanks
    Mohammed

    • Jason November 10, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

      I wish I could speak on SSD drives. I haven’t yet made the switch myself, but I’m planning to very soon. However, I have read that there is no need to defragment an SSD drive because an SSD drive can write to any location at once. The idea is that defragging just creates extra unnecessary work for the drive.

      I would say that if you are experiencing better performance after defragging, keep on doing it.

  2. Yatti420 November 10, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    There is a free tool called SSDTweaker to optimize your windows settings… Always ensure drive firmware is up to date etc..

  3. John Campbell November 10, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    Yes, Jason found the same thing happening to me. Great article!

  4. Gabriel Ortiz November 10, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    This is great. I did defrag and it has improved my laptop’s performance, even fixed some of the issues with the windows 7 over vista upgrade! Great tips!

  5. Anonymous November 11, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

    you missed out number 3

    • Jason November 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm #

      Thanks for catching that one. It should be corrected now.

  6. Maky Kent November 12, 2009 at 12:58 am #

    Well, some programs tend to leave rubbish in our system even after uninstallation. That’s why we can’t restore the system status to what it was at the finish of a clean installation. The advice is to avoid installing unknown softwares. If you would very much want to install it, do it in a sandbox or virtual machines.

  7. Evil Taco December 6, 2009 at 8:58 pm #

    fyi? that uniblue program is zombieware, and IMPOSSIBLE to uninstall. It also doesn’t fix much, and lies to you from time to time.

    Use glary utilities instead, it’s better, and automatically fixes a bunch of things that slow down windows.

  8. sdada April 28, 2010 at 4:18 am #

    For mac,you can use dvd ripper for mac to convert dvd to any format.

  9. fsafeaf June 7, 2010 at 1:30 am #

    mac video converter

  10. E Oliver September 14, 2010 at 3:24 am #

    So despite being designed very much for the ‘average user’ you admit “We cannot expect Windows to take all of the abuse an average user throws at it”! You really should!! MS products have been so bad for so long you think it’s normal. From an average user running OSX for five years without any slowdown.

  11. ipadvideoconverter April 21, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    I am still using Windows XP.

  12. Yardan Smith May 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

     How about Mac? I am a mac user, using iPad to Mac transfer now.

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