Troubleshooting Slow Pcs

PCs frequently run much slower than they could because of easily fixable problems of which most home users are not aware.

Few annoyances can be more frustrating than a brand new $2000 PC that runs slower than the old 8086 gathering dust in the closet. However, there are a few simple tricks and tips that can speed up lagging PCs.

Most PC users do not realize that their computers are probably running a number of unnecessary programs in the background that tie up system resources and slow down the system. Sometimes these programs display an icon in the system tray, usually next to the Windows clock in the bottom right corner of the screen. To find out how many programs are running in the background, press --. Press the three keys at the same time, but only do it once, more than that will reset the computer. The displayed list is a list of all the programs currently running on your computer. What most users do not realize is that only two of these are actually necessary: 'Explorer' and 'Systray'.

These programs usually load when Windows initially starts, and they can be prevented from doing so by deleting all the items in the Startup folder inside the Windows Start Menu. After doing this, try restarting Windows to see the effect. If you deleted any items from the Startup folder, there should be fewer applications running in the background. The remaining programs can be removed from the Windows startup process by opening each of them and shutting off the 'load on startup' option, usually found under an 'options' or 'preferences' menu. Programs will often setup the 'load on startup' feature automatically unless the option is deselected at some point during the installation process. If the computer had more than a few programs running in the background, this should significantly speed Windows start times and overall efficiency.



Hard Drive space is an often overlooked symptom of slowed PCs. Although today's massive hard drives offer immense storage for relatively low prices, filling them to the brim is bad for the efficiency of the computer. A general rule of thumb is to maintain at least a gigabyte or two of free space on the primary hard drive (the one that has Windows installed on it) and preferably about a quarter of the total size on larger drives.

If a hard disk is filled up and then emptied, the disk tends to become very fragmented. That is, the data on the drive is scattered all over, rather than being organized into discrete areas. This causes the PC to slow down because it has to search so much for any data. A symptom of this problem is when the hard drive says it has much less space than you know that it actually does. The Windows defragmenter (usually found under the Start Menu/Programs/Accessories/System Tools) comes with Windows and is an adequate diagnostic tool. Other more powerful programs are available for purchase, but the prepackaged Windows version is generally adequate for most home users. Remember to run the defragmenter over night, since it usually takes a few hours to finish the process.

PCs are increasingly complex and difficult for casual users to troubleshoot, but this guide should solve some of the most common problems that cause slow downs for home users. The most important advice for users is to not be afraid to tinker with their PC to improve its performace.

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