Five Quick and Easy Steps to Tune Up Your PC

Quickly and easily improve your computer's performance

So, you’ve just arrived at work and turn on your computer. It’s taking forever to turn on and finish starting up.

You go to read some emails and you only get more loading. Same when trying to read a Word document, or browse the web, or, well, anything.

Before you go ahead and purchase a new machine because this one is 'too slow', here are 5 quick and easy steps to improve the performance of your current PC:

  1. Minimise Startup Tasks

  2. Remove Bloatware

  3. Defragment and Optimise drives

  4. Look for Resource Hogs

  5. Update your Operating System and Applications

1. Minimise Startup Tasks

When you first turn on your computer, a large number of tasks must be run in order to get it going. However, it is also very likely that there are a handful of extra programs starting at the same time which are simply not needed.

The next time you restart your computer, take a look at what immediately opens as soon as you sign in. Chances are you’ll have unneeded and unwanted programs loading in the background. This can severely impact how long it takes your computer to boot up and overall result in a slower computer as more programs are running at once.

With this in mind, here’s how to disable those pesky startup tasks:

1. Open Task Manager

a. Click Start > Type “Task Manager” > Click on result OR 

b. Right-click on Taskbar > Click “Task Manager” 

2. Click “More Details” in the bottom left of the window 

3. Click on “Startup” tab at the top 

4. To disable a task, click on the task and then “Disable” in the bottom right corner 

Be careful, however, as disabling some tasks can result in issues with certain 3rd party programs. If in doubt, don’t disable the task or search for “ TASK NAME startup disable” on Google and see if any issues are reported. If there is nothing on the first page, it is likely to not cause any issues.

2. Remove Bloatware

Bloatware is the bane of any computer user’s existence, even if they don’t know it. Put simply, bloatware is any unnecessary and/or intrusive program on your computer. The majority of the time, you won’t even know that they are on your computer, as either another program downloaded and installed them or they came preinstalled.

In addition to being unnecessary, bloatware is often running even when you don’t think it is and, due to also often being resource hogs, results in a greatly slowed down computer.

To remove unwanted programs, follow these steps:

1. Open settings 

a. Click on the cog icon in the start menu 

2. Click on “Apps” in the 2nd column 

3. Search for programs you want to remove

a. Either scroll through the alphabetical list OR 

b. Type the name of the program into the search box 

4. Click uninstall 

For some more persistent programs, it might be necessary to go into the control panel. If this is required, follow these steps: 

1. Open Control panel 

a. Click Start > Type “Control Panel” > Click on result 

2. Click on “Programs and Features” OR “Uninstall Program”

3. Search list for programs you want to remove 

4. Select program and click “Uninstall” at top of list

In addition to removing bloatware, you can also ensure that you do not get any more by carefully watching when installing new software. Some installers include options to install bloatware at the same time and, due to them often attempting to trick the user, often need their boxes to be unchecked.

3. Defragment and Optimise drives

Due to the way that mechanical hard drives and file systems work, it is often possible to have little chunks of your data dispersed all throughout a drive. This results in slower load times as more effort and resources are required to find and reconstruct all parts. In addition, It can often result in slower load times, as the computer needs to work harder to find some free space to store new files.

Defragmenting is the process of removing these small chunks and placing all of your data together in the same location. This not only results in faster load times but also makes it easier to find new space to store files as all empty space is now at the end of the disk.

Regular defragmenting can help ensure that your hard drive is running as fast as possible and resulting in the least amount of work required for your computer.

If your computer utilises a faster Solid State Drive (SSD), then defragmenting is not required as they work in a different manner.

Here’s how to optimise and defragment your drives:

1. Open the “Optimise drives” utility

a. Click Start > Type “Optimise drives” Click on result 

2. Select your drive(s)

3. Click on “Optimise”

In addition to manually optimising your drives, Windows can also automatically optimise them on a set schedule and is set up to do so out of the box.

If, on the previous screen, you noticed that it was not set to automatically optimise your drives, follow these steps:

To set up automatic defragmentation and optimisation:

1. Open the “Optimize drives” utility

a. Click Start > Type “Optimise drives” Click on result 

2. Click “Change Settings” in the bottom half of the window 

3. Make sure “Run on a Schedule” is checked 

4. Chose a timeframe for regular optimisations, we recommend weekly 

5. Click the “Choose” box next to drives 

6. Select the drives you want to be optimised, we recommend all 

7. Check “Automatically optimise new drives”

8. Click OK

4. Look for Resource Hogs

Sometimes the cause of a slow computer is the applications it is running. This is particularly true when using poorly written and optimised software. 

In order to check if a program is behaving badly, follow these steps:

1. Open Task manager

a. Click Start > Type “Task Manager” > Click on result OR 

b. Right click on Taskbar > Click “Task Manager”

2. Click “More Details” in bottom left of window 

3. Click on “Processes” tab at the top 

4. Check how much CPU and memory each program is using, the more they use, the darker the box colour will be 

Badly written programs will be using lots of CPU and Memory, even when they are idle or in the background. If you have any of these programs, we recommend that you uninstall them and try to find a more lightweight alternative

5. Update your Operating System and Applications

Although this might seem somewhat counterintuitive, updating your operating system and applications to newer versions can often result in performance gains. This is due to newer versions often being more optimised and using fewer resources for the same task.

Every application and piece of software handles updates in a slightly different manner and so it can often be difficult, so we can’t put together a specific guide. Despite this, it is often quite simple to update the vast majority of applications, as they will provide a popup whenever a new update is available.

However, we can provide a guide for checking updates in Windows 10 as it the same for almost all users:

1. Open settings 

a. Click on the cog icon in the start menu 

2. Click on “Update & Security” in the 2nd column 

3. If needed, click "Check for updates"

4. After checking has finished (or if already completed), click “Download”, "Install" or "Restart Now" to finish the process.

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