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Columns : Computer Korner Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Speed up Your Computer
By Kristofferson Culmer
Apr 16, 2008 - 2:41:44 PM

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Speed up Your Computer’s Performance

Does your computer seem to be running slower than it should be and you can’t seem to figure out why? Here are some likely causes…Over time, computers get slower for a variety of reasons: files become disorganized, unnecessary software consumes resources, or too many programs automatically run at startup. So how can you fix this? Fear not, you won’t have to call in a computer technician because I’m going to layout a few trouble shooting tips you can perform yourself to keep your computer running at optimal speeds.

Defragment Your Computer

I hate newspaper articles that start on the front page but continue somewhere in the middle of the newspaper. I could get through the article much faster if it was printed on consecutive pages like a magazine article. Files on your computer can either be fragmented like a newspaper, or unfragmented like a magazine. Over time, more and more files become fragmented. When a file is fragmented, it takes longer for the computer to read it because it has to skip to different sections of the hard disk—just like it takes me a few seconds to find a page in the middle of a newspaper. Figure 1 compares how a computer reads unfragmented and fragmented files.

Figure 1



You need administrator privileges to defragment a drive or volume. Although fragmentation is complicated, it's easy to defragment your computer by following these steps:

      1. Open My Computer, right-click Local Disk, and then click Properties.

2.    On the Tools tab, click Defragment now. This Disk Defragmenter opens.

3. Click your first hard disk (C:/ drive) and then click Defragment. As shown in Figure 2, Disk Defragmenter will work for at least several minutes, though it may take several hours, so you should probably run the defragmenter at night before you go to bed to give it time to finish.

Figure 2

Remove Autostart Programs

The next step in restoring your computer's performance is to identify any unnecessary programs that start automatically. Often, programs configure themselves to run in the background so that they appear to start quickly when needed. Some of these programs show an icon on your taskbar (bottom- right of the computer screen) to let you know that they're running, like MSN messenger or i-Tunes, while others are completely hidden. These autostart programs probably won't noticeably slow down your computer as it starts up, but they will steal away trace amounts of memory and processing time as your computer runs. As more autostart programs run, you will definitely notice a reduction in speed of your computer. Also, peer to peer programs like Limewire use large amounts of memory when they run so it’s important that they are turned off when you are not using them, so you can use that memory where it is needed. Here’s how to stop programs from automatically starting when you turn on your computer.

Windows XP comes with the System Configuration tool (Msconfig.exe), an excellent way to manage the startup process. To start it:

  1. Click Start, click Run, type Msconfig, and then press Enter.
  2. Click the Startup tab; you'll see a list of all the programs and processes that are set to run when Windows XP loads.
  3. Clear the check box next to any program you don’t want to automatically start up. If you are not sure about a particular program, leave it alone and check with someone who knows better first.  
  4. Click Apply, and then restart your computer for the changes to take effect.


You probably only need to defragment your computer once or twice a year, depending on activity; so if you’ve had your computer for a while and haven’t defragmented it, you should probably go ahead and do so. Also, whenever you install or download a new piece of software on your computer, you may want to check and see if it automatically starts, so you should routinely check your program startup list especially if your computer is used by many people. Thank you, and see you next time.

Do you have a Computer Question? Email me!                          ~Kristofferson      

About the Author: Kristofferson Culmer was born in Nassau but grew up in Freeport for practically all of his life. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Central Methodist University, holding Bachelor’s of Science Degrees in Computer Science and Business, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Science Degree in Computer Science. He has recently ventured out into the business world, starting his own business: Creative Web Solutions, specializing in web development, corporate branding, and marketing. Kristofferson enjoys working out and being active, meeting people, learning, and enjoying the simple things in life. Kristofferson can be contacted at kculmer@centralmethodist.edu .      

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