Slow PC? No problem! Fix up your clunker for under $50

With memory getting cheaper and processors getting faster by the day, it's easier than ever to get a speedy PC. But don't give up on your current system just yet. There are lots of great ways to speed up performance and optimize an older clunker.

With memory getting cheaper and processors getting faster by the day, it's easier than ever to get a speedy PC. But don't give up on your current system just yet. There are lots of great ways to speed up performance and optimize an older clunker.

If you've already upgraded your RAM (typically the most cost-efficient way of boosting performance), you may want to look at tuning up your hard drive for optimal performance. Happily, there are plenty of low-cost utilities available for doing just that.

IN FACT, one such disk utility--Diskeeper 6.0 Second Edition--won a Best Buy award in Computer Shopper's November issue.

This new version of the utility is faster and leaner than its predecessor, and works on hard drives running Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, or XP.

One of the best ways to optimize the performance of your hard disk is to keep it defragmented. While all the Windows operating systems include built-in disk defragmenters, Diskeeper 6.0 offers a variety of additional capabilities. In fact, its maker, Executive Software, worked with Microsoft to develop low-level functions in Win2000 that enable Diskeeper (and other third-party utilities) to safely move files while the system is busy.

IN OUR TESTS, we found that Diskeeper's improved defrag algorithms do a better job than competing products and require fewer system resources. The program analyzes fragmentation data to achieve an optimal balance between performance and fragmentation. A Smart Scheduling setting tracks the degree of fragmentation in your drive and automatically regulates how often the program activates the defrag process.

I took a virtual shopping trip to see what kind of deal I could find on Diskeeper 6.0 Second Edition.

The cheapest way to buy the product is to download it from www.execsoft.com for $44.95. The best price I found on the boxed version (with printed documentation) was $47.48 ($40.95 plus $6.53 ground shipping) at PageComputer.com. PageComputer.com will take returns on unopened software within 30 days, but charges a 15 percent restocking fee for all non-defective returns.

IF YOU ALREADY HAVE a full version of Diskeeper 2.x, 3.0, 4.0, 4.5, or 5.0, you can download the upgrade version for $24.95 or order the boxed upgrade version from PageComputer.com for $27.52 ($21.62 plus $5.90 ground shipping).

For those on a really tight budget, check out these shareware and freeware defrag utilities:

  • Power Defrag 2.0 optimizes the operation of the Windows 95/98/Me Defrag applet, allowing it to run faster and more efficiently. Best of all, it relieves most common defrag-related Windows 98 crashes. Registration costs $20 and allows access to the Power Scandisk tool and Registry Maintenance functions.

  • Finally, O&O Defrag 2000 Freeware replaces the standard NT and 2000 defrag utilities.

Can you recommend other good hard disk utilities? What other bargain fixer-upper ideas do you have? TalkBack to me.

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