Tip 1 – Install the latest Windows Updates

This is important to keep your system stable and performing reliably.  Many times we have been called on to work on a reader’s computer and we discover that important updates such as Service Packs have not been applied.  Many people are understandably wary of Microsoft updates, but we can assure you that the benefits outweigh the negatives.  They also contain many device drivers for the gadgets you plug into your computer everyday such as drivers for external hard drives and digital cameras.

Tip 2 – Remove old programs

If you have a system running reasonably well but is several years old, you’re likely to have a number of programs you have collected over the years you don’t use anymore.  Look in Control Panel, in Windows XP this will be ‘Add & Remove Programs’ and ‘Programs & Features’ in Vista/Windows 7.  Click on the column tab heading at the top for ‘size’ – this will order the programs in terms of how much space they take up on your hard drive.  Remove the ones with a large footprint that you are sure you do not use any more.

Tip 3 – Check for Malware

It’s very important to keep your security system up-to-date otherwise it will not work correctly.  Whenever the system gives you an indication it needs updating, this is usually a small icon in the system tray (bottom right hand corner of your screen).  Click on this to update it.  Some systems should update automatically, but others will need some input from you, so just be aware of this.  Finally run a full system scan once a week or once a fortnight just to be on the safe side; these will be more thorough than some of the quick daily system scans.

 

Tip 4 – Backup your files

There are all sorts of ways you can backup.  Some are automated and some you can carry out yourself.  Remember to backup those files that really matter to you.  A good example of these types of files are your photos.  A simple solution to this is to copy them to a flash drive as a backup at the same time as you are copying them to your computer’s hard drive.  Another good system is to back up your files online.  Some of these are free such as the Sky Drive, which is included with Windows Hotmail – you get up to 25Gb of free storage. It may not help your PC’s speed, but if you’re properly backed-up installing a fresh operating system is a lot easier.

 

Tip 5 – Limit startup programs

If you’ve got lots or programs opening when you boot-up, it can slow not only the boot speed but also your PC’s overall speed.  To help reduce these programs, check your Notification Area (bottom right of the Taskbar). There will be a series of little icons here (and clicking on the arrow will display more).

Hover over any you don’t recognise to find out what they are. If you don’t need them to launch at startup, then right-click and choose the options or preferences setting, if offered.

There should be an option to disable auto startrun on startup or similar. Use it to stop the program launching at startup.