Have you been noticing a performance decrease in your computer? Is it getting bogged down? There are so many options here for you to consider. In the same sense as looking under the hood of a car, taking apart a computer or digging into the software can be really intimidating. If you don’t know what to look for you could accidentally screw a lot of stuff up. Fear not, ScreenTek has a few helpful tips to crank your PC’s performance up to 11! Shut Off Unnecessary Services and Start-up Programs Windows, OS X, or Linux so follow the instructions provided in the links, and you won’t need to worry about messing anything up. (Note: The instructions for Windows appear to only apply to Windows 7 and Vista, but trust me; the process is exactly the same for XP and even 2000 if you’re going back that far). Once you’ve disabled all of the unnecessary start-up programs, you should notice faster boot times and slightly better performance overall. Cleaning Up Your Files This is incredibly important. Computers generate a lot of digital waste. That is, they create temporary files, cache browser information, and keep pieces of programs you’ve uninstalled. None of these things are absolutely necessary to operating your computer, so if you know how, get in there and sweep ‘em out. If you’re not an expert at registry cleaning or if you just want a program to do all the work for you, try out CCleaner for Windows and OnyX for OS X. While you’re taking care of the files that you don’t see, start clearing out the files that you can see. Desktop icons, especially in OS X can eat up system resources. Move desktop files into folders, and get rid of the shortcuts you don’t need. Your Programs Are Slowing You Down In a similar manner to your start-up programs bogging down your resources, the programs you run for normal tasks might be sucking up resources too. Take programs like iTunes, Windows Media Player, Adobe Reader, and even Microsoft Word. All of these for some reason or another require massive amounts of computing power. Instead, try programs like VLC Media Player. This program is the ultimate media player because it can play ANY file type. Cool PDF Reader is super small. The program is only about 600 kb in size and it’s super-fast. For word processing, switch to OpenOffice or Google Docs. All of these programs require a fraction of the resources that their counterparts do, and they’re all FREE. Defrag That Drive! Most people should be familiar with the term, but not a lot of people are really aware of what this means. Defragmenting a hard drive is a way of organizing your information so your computer is more efficient at accessing it. Windows has a built-in disk defragmenter, but it’s not incredibly user-friendly. I recommend IObit’s Smart Defrag. The interface is clean, and it’s easy to understand. More importantly it’s pretty fast. There are plenty of options to make it worthwhile for both beginner and advanced users, and best of all, it’s FREE. OS X and Linux don’t usually have to worry about disk defragmentation, but I own a Mac, and I choose to use Daisy Disk. It helps visualize how my data is stored, and it allows for better optimization. Best Bets: If you really want to give your hard drive processes a boost, consider running your OS on a Solid-State Drive (SSD). This is going to increase boot times, speed up program loading, and even give you some extra storage space. Long-Term Solutions The advice we’ve given you above is a quick and dirty way to things done. However, if none of these options provide you with the speed you need, there may be some less immediate, more permanent steps you can take. A good place to start is your RAM (Random Access Memory). Choosing what kind of RAM and how much can be tricky, but Crucial’s website makes all of that really easy. You should be able to get through a RAM upgrade for about $50 or less. Adding or upgrading your graphics card can lead to a huge boost in performance as well. You don’t have to play video games to get one of these things. Sure they make really giant, expensive graphics cards, but they’re also made for midrange performance to simply take a load off of your processor. Pick one of these up and notice a performance boost for under $70.