Speed up Your PC?


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Computer performance optimization done by you the DIYer is a free way to speed up a slow PC, properly done the speed of the PC will be maintained for some time.

Performance optimization, what is it? Should I do it? How would I do it?

Good questions and very few answers on the internet. There is a lot of advice out there on how to maximize your computer's Operating System (OS) by uninstalling unused programs to running anti-virus software, and maybe running a "registry cleaner".

Question: "What do computer repair shops do to speed up computers?"

There are four ways to 'Speed Up My PC' :

  1. Invest in a new computer

  2. Invest in a new motherboard and processor

  3. Invest in more memory

  4. Operational maximize the Operating System (OS)

The list is from most expensive to free, the cheapest hardware upgrade is the memory, it is the most bang for your buck upgrade. However 32 bit OS can only utilize 3.25 GB of memory and once you have that much memory in the computer with out upgrading the motherboard/processor or buying a new one is this: Maximize the OS!

Performance optimization ("Speed up My PC!") begins with realizing your computer isn't as fast as it was when you turned it on the first time. This is normal.

Different things will slow your computer down, too many files on the hard drive, too many 'utilities' running when you start, not enough memory for the programs to run properly (too many open programs for the physical memory).

Your computer should be able to run five of the top software programs simultaneously. I am not joking!

You should be able to have these types of programs running while you do something else: email, browser, word processor, spread sheet, and a graphics program.

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Right now while I am building this web page (typing it up and formatting it) I have these programs running on the desktop: 2 separate Internet Explorer 8's, a RSS reader, email, notepad, and Front Page. My system is responding like it should, not dragging or hesitating. ( I also have four separate versions of explorer open for different folders). My screen resolution is set for 1920 x 1280.

How do I do this with a P4 2.5 GHz -M processor and 2 gig of ram (note the processor speed, it is 2/3 the speed of the latest and greatest!)?

Performance optimization!

Ok, so how do I performance optimization my system? By keeping it clean and making the OS do what I want it to do not what the programmers think it should do.System Properties

Temporary files, temp files are files that your word processor, IE, Firefox, and other programs created for their purpose. They should delete them when you close them but they don't. So first we tell the OS where we want the temp files to be then we delete those others. (Note: After restart you can delete the temp files but not until then. You will need to do a search for folders named Temp or Tmp to find them all )

We need to build a new place for all those temporary files. If you have two volumes then I would suggest you put them on the second drive not the OS or system drive.

Second we need to tell theSystem Enviromentals User Temp Path OS where we want to put temp files, this is done through the system properties pages.

Right click on My Computer and click on the properties or go to the control panel and open System. Go to the Advanced tab, on the Advanced tab we will use these sections: Performance, Startup and Recovery, and Environment Variables

Environment Variables:

When the page opens you will see two windows. The top window is for the current user, the bottom window is for the System.

Once you have created your new temp folder (I use D:\Temp onSystem Enviromentals Sytem Temp Path the D: drive) then click each line and change it to where your new Temp folder is located. (Note: Current user temp folder will have to be modified for each user of the system if others use your computer).

In the System variables window we need to change three lines:

Path: double click on the value, go to the end of the line and add to the path to your new temp folder like this: ;D:\Temp   Note the ; before the D:\   (putting the temp in the path line will force all programs to use the temp folder, such as an install program).

Next scroll down to TEMP and double click the value and put in your new path to the temp folder, doSystem Visual Effects the same for the TMP value.

These changes do not take effect until after you restart, complete your optimization before restarting.

Performance optimization:

First: Visual Effects, I adjust for best performance, if you want to use custom and select a few will not impact performance but the 'Let windows choose....' will definitely cause performance to degrade.

Second: Click on Advanced, go to Virtual Memory, click on the 'Change' button. (First let me explain something about the 'Virtual Memory or Swap File', this is a file where any time you open or use more memory than theChanging Virual memory physical memory installed in the system is put temporarily. That is to say you have 512 meg of physical ram installed. Once you open enough programs that the memory usage goes past the 512 Meg of ram then the OS will start to move unused programs from physical memory to the swap file. Now there is no hard rule on how much space you give this swap file, from my experience it is around 1.5 times the physical memory. Once you go past 2 gig then it takes to long to read and write the swap file every time something is swapped from ram to the file or from the file to ram regardless of the processor speed. If you have more than 2 gig of physical memory in your system you will need to spread the swap file across more drives, you can only have one swap file per drive. The only systems I have worked on that this was not valid were servers with more than four processors.)

To set your 'Virtual Memory' select the drive, then put in the 'Initial size' (the size of your physical memory, then in the 'Maximum size' putSelecting drive for Virual memory in 1.5 times that. Set the second drive (D:) file sizes, then modify the fist drive (C:)  (normally I remove the swap file from the C: drive) then close the page, if you get the, 'System needs to be restarted' message click ok, it will not restart yet.

Startup and Recovery:

This one is a personal type tweak. What I mean is you do not
need to do anything here unless you remove the swap file from the C: drive. If you remove the swap file from the C: drive you will get a warning that the system can not write a Dump file for zero bytes.

Under the System failure heading I remove all check boxes, I also select (none) for Write debugging information. The reason is that unless youSetting Startup and Recovery options suspect that you have an unstable system it only creates more overhead for the system to read at startup.

The idea of optimizing your memory usage is to keep the system memory at it's lowest point and keep all programs in the physical ram vs. swapping them out to the hard drive.

Internet Explorer:

This is the last performance optimization tweak before restart. On the desktop icon for Internet Explorer right click and go to properties, on the 'Browsing history' heading click on Settings. 

You can control how much disk space is used on this page, I set mine to 10 meg. At the bottom of the page you can change how many days the history will keep, select what you feel is appropriate for your use. Then click on the button 'Move folder...' browse to your temp folder. Once you close the properties pages you will automatically be logged off, once you log back on you still need to restart your computer to complete the other settings you have changed.

Note: This performance optimization process was written in early 2008, since then Vista and Windows Seven/Eight have been released however the popularity of Windows Seven isn't what MS thought it would be by now, there are approximately 2.5 Billon legal installations of XP and only 300 Million legal installations of Vista and Windows Seven combined. Something to consider. If you have Vista/Windows Seven/Eight/Ten see the Windows 7 section for optimization techniques.Most "how To.." computer repair manuals are written in geek speak, this one isn't...

Want to know more? There are more ways to use performance optimization on your system to regain some of that memory that is wasted by non essential programs, visual effects, and services here: More Performance optimization.

Note: This article was written in 2007. Since that time I have upgraded my computer four times and have used this performance optimization process each time to optimize the OS for maximum performance. With a Core 2 Quad processor I have more open files than with the P4 and the same results: A fast and responsive computer with out any problems. This does work and it is Free!  :)

Update 08/19/14- After three years (that is about how long the "on line" remote control "fix my PC for me!" scams have been running) I have fixed dozens of computers the owners thought they were getting a bargain when using these services. Consider this: Is it a bargain when you have to pay someone twice what the advertised cost to fix what they did? Is $49.95 worth a trip to the repair shop where the cost per hour is over $85 per hour?

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