Security is very important because viruses and spyware can slow down your computer and
most anti-virus programs like Norton and McAfee also contribute to slowing down your
computer. This month I’ll cover some other easy to correct areas of your PC that may be
slowing it down. Although I’ve covered this subject before I’m repeating it again for
anyone that reads this column and may have forgotten the procedure.
First, you may want to review past articles on PC performance by going to our website
www.hersheysmill.org, clicking on “Tech Tips”, and then click on “Computer Performance
and Maintenance Tips”. Next, click on “Maintenance – Basic” and “Maintenance – Recommended”.
The overall procedure has changed little from those articles. Do a Disk Cleanup first by
clicking Start, move to All Programs, move to Accessories, then System Tools, and click
Disk Cleanup. With Vista click on Accessories and System Tools. Click OK (XP only), make
sure all the items are checked, and click OK again for both XP and Vista. To gain a superior
cleanup I highly recommend downloading and installing CCleaner. To do that, just follow the
procedure in the “Maintenance – Recommended” on-line article. After cleaning out all the junk
files with these two programs, then click on Disk Defragmenter which is also in System Tools.
This will realign the files on the hard drive for faster startup and execution of your programs.
Click the Analyze button for information about your hard drive’s fragmentation then click the
Defragment button. Vista analyzes automatically but don’t depend on it. Click the Defragment
now button for Vista.
Another important item is to reduce the number of programs that unnecessarily start up with
your computer. This is an area that software manufacturers and to some extent the PC makers
themselves have taken advantage. Click Start, click Run, type msconfig in the Open: field and
click OK. With Vista type msconfig in the Start Search box which is above the Start button and
press the Enter key. Next, click the Startup tab. Note the items checked. Each is stealing some
amount of your computer’s resources. The idea here is to leave checked the ones you absolutely
need. For example you definitely need your security programs to start when you start the
computer. Remember, unchecking items does not uninstall them but only stops them from starting
up. When done unchecking unneeded items click the OK button. A Restart is necessary to effect
the changes you made. You can always start your programs when needed from your Desktop icon or
from the Programs Menu. You don’t need them to start at boot time. Read in more detail this
important speedup technique in the “Computer – Taking Control” on-line article.
Routine maintenance as described above should take place every month if you use your computer
everyday. A once a week user can go two months. However, security scanning should take place
weekly or more often if you are a daily user.
Another item that is also important for faster performance is the usable amount of physical
system memory available. The more programs you have checked in msconfig the less usable memory
you have for other things. Also, when you have many items checked they require attention from
the computer’s processor further slowing things down. Here’s how to check. Startup two or
three other programs you use frequently. For example if your computer is used mainly for the
Internet start Internet Explorer or whatever you use to browse web sites along with Outlook
Express for e-mail and Microsoft Word or some word processing program. Right click a blank area
on the Task Bar (the bar at the bottom of the screen). In the pop-up menu click Task Manager.
Click the Performance tab in the window. Now with 3 programs or so running note the available
memory under Physical Memory. You should have at least 100,000 or higher available. If not you
should consider adding more physical memory. For Vista users look at the Free number. It should
be above 100. Adding memory is easy to do but consult your PC user’s manual for your system’s
requirements. A low cost reliable Internet site to purchase memory is www.crucial.com. This
site will offer to scan your computer, noting details such as your manufacturer, model, what
memory you need, and the available memory slots.
In summary, installing my recommended security software, cleaning and defragging the hard
drive, and insuring you have enough memory installed, will improve the overall performance of
Answers to your questions on this subject and others can be found on the
second Tuesday of every month at 7:00 PM at the PC Club meeting upstairs in the Community Center