Six Clicks: Cheap or free upgrades to squeeze more power from any PC

Six Clicks: Cheap or free upgrades to squeeze more power from any PC

Summary: Want more speed? These performance tips will work for any PC running Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.

TOPICS: Hardware, Windows, DIY

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  • Want more speed?

    "This PC is so slow!"

    This is a cry that's been uttered by PC users since, well, PCs were first invented.

    Since we don't think that there's anyone out there who wouldn't like to squeeze a little more performance out of their PC, we've pulled together six top tips that will help you get the most out of your Windows PC, without having to spend a fortune.

    These tips will work for any PC running Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.  

    Get rid of the junk >>

  • Get rid of the junk

    There's nothing like having loads of junk installed on a system to turn even the best PC into a river of molasses.

    There's two sorts of junk to consider. The first is the stuff that the PC makers install into new PCs, and the other is the junk that you (and other people using the PC) have installed on it.

    You could spend your whole weekend manually tracking down this junk, but it makes much more sense to get a tool to do the job automatically, and the best tool out there for this job is PC Decrapifier. This free download will scan your system and quickly (and safely) remove any junk on your system. 

    After running PC Decrapifier you might optionally want to do a pass using another free tool called CCleaner. This will go a bit deeper and clean your system of temporary files, log files and other junk.


Topics: Hardware, Windows, DIY

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  • Also stop the auto startup programs

    I think the best speed improvement can be had from stopping some of the Start up programs that maybe you don't really need. Also checking these programs for processes that can bog down a PC. So many run update checks, have RAM hogging back ground processes that you might have a option in the advance settings of the program to turn off. Such as not having it start in the first place on boot up. No doubt the junkware in many PC's always makes me wonder is it really worth a bad customer experience to get a couple bucks from these vendors to install this stuff on a PC?
    • CCleaner or Revo Uninstaller is good for this

      Both CCleaner and Revo Uninstaller allow you to disable or delete the startup programs from Windows (what MSCONFIG does). CCleaner goes a step further and groups the startup entries for Windows, IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Services in separate tabs so you can deal with each type of startup.

      This was especially handy to get isolate and remove Conduit adware-malware (often auto-installed with open source or freeware programs), which, in addition to creating a startup entry at boot time, also installs an entry in the Windows Task Scheduler -- so if you delete the startup entry, the Task Scheduler will REINSTALL the malware automatically. Wonderful, no? CCleaner made this visible so I could delete the unwanted Scheduled Task.
      Ltt Mdm
      • When we talk about computers getting slower and slower...

        ... we are always talking about Windows problems. With Linux on it that computer will never slow down. Take it under consideration.
        • Yeah, because people who need help speeding up their computers...

          Are real interested in learning Linux.
          • Many Versions of Linux are EASY to use

            Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and several other Ubuntu based versions are EASIER to use than Windows.
          • just installed Ubuntu . . .

            It runs great on what had been a "bookend" laptop. An old high-end Dell Inspiron with only 2gig of memory running Vista Home Premium. Talk about a dog!!
            Ubuntu 64 loaded in ten minutes and was up and running just fine. It isn't hard to use - just different. That sucker boots in about ten seconds now. Very nice indeed! I am looking forward to playing with this OS.
        • Actually, Linux would effectively brick my work computer...

          since none of the major software I use will run on it. ESRI ArcView w/extensions, Autocad, Autocad/Map, Autocad/Civil 3-D, Revit, etc. are running just fine on W8.0. I also need to be able to access MS Sharepoint and upload/download multiple files at a time which seems to be only do-able using IE, and I don't think MS is going to issue a Linux version of IE anytime soon. So Linux seems to be a non-solution for me and many others in like situations. Take that under consideration...
          Dave S2
          • Enjoy wearing....

            ...that ball and chain.
    • WWW.FB39.COM

      YOu Should open the my name then go to home page for more information
    • Agreed!

      I do development work occasionally on my PC and therefore have SqlServer and all of its attendant programs running at startup. Add Visual Studio to the mix and surfing the 'net is unwise... hahaha! So, I make use of two programs, one native to Windoze: Task Manager, where I can 'Stop' a dozen or so running processes when they're unnecessary and a little TSR called 'RAM Optimizer', which ships with TweakNow Powerpack. It monitors RAM usage in real time and allows the user to recover a user-defined amount at any time. Perhaps not the Best solution, but it's FREE!
  • If you can afford it, move Windows to an SSD.

    While you focused mostly on cheap things - if you can afford it, putting Windows on an SSD is perhaps one of the best ways to go.

    They're really, really fast. If you remove the things beyond OS control (BIOS, typing in the password), the boot to desktop time (from a cold boot) on my PC dropped below 10 seconds, just by moving to an SSD.

    And when you get to the desktop, it's usable right away. Instead of becoming unusable while background processes load, it's totally usable even while they're loading, and they load up much faster.

    So basically, I've got a usable machine in 10 seconds from a cold boot. That's actually much faster than cold booting my iPhone 4.
    • yep, an SSD will put a kick back into the old tired mule.

      Memory is cheap make sure you have plenty and Windows will cache data in RAM when it can. Some systems will only hold 2 or 4GB if your system is 64bit go to 6 or 8GB if possible.

      depending on the system a video card upgrade can also make things pop a bit faster but there are limits and I generally wouldn't spend more than $100/20% of a typical system cost for an upgrade. You have to weigh this against total replacement cost. I.e an old system will have old components that also limit you so springing for a high end card might not produce the result you want. This rule does not apply to high end gaming systems although the concept is not lost completely.

      In some cases a CPU upgrade can be beneficial but often motherboards are limited to what they can accept and the step up is marginal at best. A jump from 2 to 3 GHZ is probably worthwhile but 2.2 to 2.8 not so much. Unless its under heavy use switching from dual core to quad core at the same GHZ may not even be noticed.

      If your system is several years old a well chosen new system will be money better spent than buying hardware upgrades. Choose wisely.
    • ...or you can add an SSD and use Intel's Smart Response Tech...

      ...if your computer supports it. See

      I agree with some of the other posts though - another quick way to speed up the PC is to upgrade it to Win 8.1.
  • "Add more RAM"

    Actually you stop getting a performance benefit after 4GB unless you have a ton of crap running in the background or are an avid multitasker or database cruncher or heavy gamer.
    Jacob VanWagoner
    • In that case

      speed of ram matters more. 1066 is slower, 1333 is normal, 1600 is fast, 1866 is screaming.
      Jacob VanWagoner
      • Probably not

        Most RAM speeds are pre-set by the main board BIOS. Unless you can adjust that BIOS setting, without changing front side bus speed etc, buying faster RAM will get you exactly NOTHING. The modules will simply run at the BIOS default values, no matter how fast the RAM may be rated to run. If you are familiar with system overclocking, there may be ways around it, but that is a topic for another day.

        Now, installing RAM too slow for the main board settings can get you into a heap of trouble, because you may force a RAM overclocking, which most RAM does not like much.
  • Readyboost, srsly?

    What Readyboost does is take advantage of the fact that USB drives can be random-accessed a lot faster than hard drives, and it substitutes using the hard drive for caching when the RAM fills up. If you have 4GB RAM already there's not much benefit to using Readyboost.
    Jacob VanWagoner
    • it can be useful under the right circumstances

      but you would get a lot better boost using an SSD. That said under low RAM conditions an available USB flash drive meeting requirements its a free boost. I Wouldn't spend any money on it though.
    • readyboost eh

      ah readyboost drives page even when system ram is not full so i give it the readyboot for weaRING OUT MY FLASH DRIVE
      Joseph Francis
    • Readyboost is pretty meh.

      Readyboost is pretty meh. Tried it on a netbook. The speed increase is rather marginal.

      Increasing the amount of RAM or switching Windows to SSD will give you a much more substantial boost.