47 Ways To Speed Up Your PC for Free! (Part 2)

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4.    Fix disk errors

As well as sorting and organizing your hard disks, you should also check them for any errors. Faulty sectors can not only cause errors when reading or writing data, but can slow down data access in general. It's a good idea to seek out and attempt to fix these problems.

To do so, you can use Windows' own disk scanner. This can be found by right-clicking a drive and going to Properties > Tools. Here you'll see a section called Error Checking. Click the 'Check' button to check the drive for errors and fix any if problems are found.

Click the 'Check' button to check the drive for errors and fix any if problems are found

Click the 'Check' button to check the drive for errors and fix any if problems are found

5.    Tune your start-up

When you turn on your PC, the boot process first goes through the BIOS post and then loads up Windows. When Windows loads up, it also goes through a start-up list containing various programs that also boot up with the OS. The more there is in this list, the slower your system boot-up and overall performance.

To combat this, you can manually trim this list so Windows doesn't have to load as many applications. This is found in the System Configuration utility (and in Task Manager in Windows 8). To get to it via the System Configuration Utility, go to Start > Run and type 'msconfig'. In Windows 8, press Ctrl +Alt +Del, go to Task Manager and select the Startup tab.

Trim down start-u p items to speed up the PC’s boot times

Trim down start-u p items to speed up the PC’s boot times

You'll be presented with a list of programs that run during start- up. Many of these may be needed, but some may not and only take up resources when they needn't. To trim this list down, simply select an item and disable it (untick the check box, or on Windows 8, click Disable).

6.    Disable services

It's not just programs that run in the background; in fact, these are minimal when compared to services. These items run in the background and handle various aspects of your PC, from running programs to important system processes. Most are necessary, but some are not.

As with start-up items, you can manually stop services in order to free up resources. To do so, go to run, type 'msconfig' and click the Services tab. You can now browse through the list and deselect any items you don't want or need.

Of course, some of these items are essential system functions, so extra care needs to be taken when shutting them off. As always, if you're not sure, look it up first, and leave anything you're not comfortable editing.

7.    Scan for malware

Malware that gets onto a PC can be a very common cause of system slowdowns, not to mention more serious issues, so it's a good idea to scan your system for any intruders on a regular basis, especially if you spend a lot of time online.

It's easy enough to do, and there are plenty of free programs that can handle the task. One of the most popular is Malwarebytes (www. This is a powerful malware scanner that can detect and remove many threats.

This is a powerful malware scanner that can detect and remove many threats.

This is a powerful malware scanner that can detect and remove many threats.

8.    Uninstall or disable unwanted/needed hardware

It may sound extreme, but having hardware installed in the PC you never use can contribute to system slowdowns, and removing it can avoid this. Hardware requires drivers to function, some of which utilize resident applets to function, so getting rid of this overhead can help keep things running smoothly.

If you rarely use a TV capture card, memory card reader or even USB devices like webcams, printers and so on, remove them, then ensure you uninstall the drivers and any related software. An easy way to make sure a device and its drivers are gone is to use Device Manager. Locate the hardware entry in the list and then right-click it and select Uninstall.

It's also possible to disable devices instead of removing them. This can be done in Device Manager too; simply locate the device to disable, right-click it and click 'Disable'. This is very useful for unwanted on-board devices that are part of the motherboard.

9.    Upgrade drivers

Even hardware that's constantly used and essential to your daily tasks can contribute to a PC's sluggishness. One way to avoid this is to ensure you're always running the latest drivers.

Many updated drivers promise improved performance, so it pays to keep on top of any possible upgrades. Also, as hardware ages, manufacturers often find ways to improve device performance by adding new features, further enhancing system power.

However, although updating drivers can help, sometimes new drivers can actually cause problems, so always check manufacturer forums and the like to double-check a new driver is safe to use.

Components, such as GPUs from Nvidia, are often 1m proved by new drivers, so it pays to stay up to date

Components, such as GPUs from Nvidia, are often 1m proved by new drivers, so it pays to stay up to date

10.  Upgrade firmware

Firmware updates can add many new abilities, especially to the BIOS, and can also result in a faster, more optimized system. Although not as easy to manage as a simple driver install, firmware upgrade are simple enough, as long as you follow the vendor's instructions and take care while doing so.

Some BIOS versions have been gifted with new features in the past, updating older systems to use new tech, and an overall speed boost can be expected in some circumstances, especially if a potentially system-benefiting feature previously missing is added.

11.  Use some elbow grease

Various things can slow a PC down, but not all reside digitally within the PC, and old-fashioned dust and detritus can also cause a plethora of problems. Don't be afraid to crack open the PC and give it a good dusting. Dust and dirt build-up on fans and heat-sinks can impair their effectiveness, causing overheating, and a higher level of heat can cause slowdown and errors and even system damage. Even simply clearing out vents can help.

However, be careful. Don't use abrasive cleaners or static-creating dusters. Also, if you do clear out vents, never blow into them, because this simply blows the dirt inside the unit. Air dusters can be very useful but, again, don't use these to blow inside a PC.

12.  Format

It's a simple but time consuming procedure, requiring much backing up and messing around, but if there's one particularly effective way to speed up an ailing system, it's to start from scratch and format. Obviously a last resort for most, formatting wipes the system clean and leaves you with a brand new computer of sorts.

This is also very useful if your PC is slow due to a malware infection that just can't be removed or if the system's performance is so bad, it would take far longer to manually investigate and fix.

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