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.