In the old days, computers often performed very slowly because of a lack of preventative maintenance. Those days are behind us because a lot of these things are now handled by Windows 10 automatically. Instead, our computers run slow either because of the junk that comes preinstalled on your computer or because of junk we put into it.
This article was based on a recent pro-bono job I did to help out a local non-profit in Redding, California. The purpose of this is how to make a typical home or small business perform better, and not take an already good machine and make it faster by tweaking (like overclocking or messing with the registry). Everything here will be pretty basic.
- Go through the computer and remove all unneeded software that came installed on your computer. This means games, trial software, etc. Also in most cases, 90% of the software that comes from the manufacturer (Gateway, Dell, HP, etc) can also be uninstalled without consequence.
- Remove all anti-virus software unless you’re using an enterprise level software. Most of them significantly slow down performance and have very little benefit. Most of the time I’ve gone in to remove a virus from a computer it was running antivirus software! Also, virtually no “free” version of anti-virus is licensed for business use (yes, that means non-profits as well). For example, see this article on Malware Bytes. If you’re on Windows X, you can rely upon Windows Defender (built in) do to a good enough job. If you’re running an older version, you should either upgrade or manually install Windows Defender (free). Also be sure to check out my Top 5 Virus Tips (a bit old).
- Disable unused browser extensions: Disable anything that they don’t actively use/need. These can have problems from privacy to performance implications.
- Use CCleaner Portable – to do a one time scan and cleanup of the PC files, removing unneeded files and cleaning up the registry. The portable version can be found here.
- Use AutoRuns (advanced) – this advanced tool can be used by a technician to see a lot of the things running in the background on the computer, this becoming bloated can really cause performance issues. But if you don’t know what you’re doing here, you can easily leave your computer unable to work or might fail when you reboot. Don’t use this tool lightly. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/autoruns
That is about it as far as things that will make a difference. While I’m there I’ll also check to make sure that Windows Update, Windows Defender and Disk Defragmentation is working properly. In the old days doing a disk defragment was critical to performance and easy, low hanging fruit, but those days are over. There have been so many improvements to the operating system, that old tips from before 2010 no longer apply. I might also just check to make sure that the disk has enough free space (at least 20% free), but with the capacity of hard drives now a days I cannot recall the last time I’ve seen a small business computer having performance issues due to storage limitations.
Finally, while I need to update the article be sure to look at the First 10 things I do with a new computer.