All computers and laptops slow down over time and sometimes the drop in speed can be significant. You’ll notice this in the time it takes for your computer to start up, a delay in responding to actions like opening files or folders and a decrease in your Internet browser’s response. The main reason for this is that your computer has become cluttered with unused programs, inappropriate settings or, more seriously, has been infected with a virus or spyware.

However, there are several simple things you can do yourself to speed up your computer before you need to resort to specialized utilities to optimize your system. If your desktop is cluttered with unused program icons and files you should perform a general cleanup: remove shortcuts you don’t need and organize files into folders and place them in the appropriate directories. Over time you’ll probably have installed a large number of programs which you no longer use. You should take the time to unistall these programs using either the Windows functions provided or, at the very least, the uninstall utility that comes with most software. If you don’t use these methods then programs and their settings, even when they are not present, can still impact the operating system as it searches for components that are no longer present. Sometimes programs also install themselves to start automatically when you boot Windows.

I have found that I can significantly speed up my PC by removing unwanted startup programs which can use system resources in the background, whether you want the program to be running or not. If these simple tasks do not result in an improvement in performance you should look at a utility for checking your system, the application registry and for any viruses or spyware installed; an initial scan is typically free and will help you to identify more serious causes of a lack of speed on your PC.

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