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How Do I Improve Computer Performance?

Defragmenting or freeing up space on a computer's hard drive can improve performance.
Viruses, spyware, and other malware can slow down a computer.
Installing additional RAM may help increase computer speed.
Graphics cards may help improve computer functionality.
Article Details
  • Written By: Eugene P.
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2014
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There are a number of problems that can adversely affect computer performance. Invalid registry entries, unnecessary startup programs, temporary files and a poorly arranged file system can all slow down the basic operating of a computer system. Network speed when online can be affected by spyware, malware, multiple automatic software updates or an overworked router. Other factors, such as not rebooting a computer, lack of memory or disk space, conflicting drivers, and even extraneous graphical screen animations can all use vital system resources. Computer performance can be improved, sometimes dramatically, by taking some time to clean up the internals of a system.

One thing that can really tax computer performance, especially during startup, is a clogged system registry. The registry includes instructions for the operating system on where programs and drivers are, as well as associations between files, programs and the operating system. Some un-installation and installation programs for software incorrectly add or remove registry entries. Each time the operating system encounters a bad registry entry, it takes a little time for it to be resolved or ignored. There are many programs available that can scan and repair the system registry.

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Driver conflicts between different devices, whether they are currently installed or not, can affect more than just the functioning of the hardware. Conflicts affect computer performance by basically interrupting the normal processing of system events, causing slowing and freezing or crashes, depending on the devices to which the conflicts are related. This can be difficult to repair but, because it can be exploited by malware, some antivirus programs scan for this type of problem.

Using the system’s built-in defragmentation utility can help a computer to access files more quickly and efficiently, improving computer performance at a very low level. A defragmenter will move disparate parts of a file so they appear in contiguous memory blocks, meaning the hard drive needs to move less when reading and making the computer faster as a result. This process also sometimes catches errors within the physical hard drive that can be repaired to prevent future problems.

The speed at which a computer accesses the Internet or a network can be reduced either by spyware on the computer or by clogging the connection with programs all attempting to use the connection at once. Using spyware removal and antivirus software can remove problematic programs, while employing a firewall can prevent unwanted programs from contacting remote servers. The hardware used to connect to the Internet, such as a router, also should be given a break by being turned off from time to time, resetting its internal volatile memory and potentially improving computer performance online.

There are small things that could make a difference and help to fine tune some aspects of computer performance. A system will run faster if the visual bells and whistles, such as transparent menus or animated cursors, are disabled. Removing programs that are not used or needed also will help, particularly in the case of unwanted programs from the system startup folder. Clearing out browser cache directories and operating system temporary files can give a large boost to both available hard drive space and speed.

If a computer has been cleaned, defragmented and rebooted and still operates slowly, then it could be time for hardware upgrades. This could mean adding a larger hard drive, expanding the amount of random access memory (RAM) or even changing the operating system. All of these actions could improve computer performance dramatically, but they also can be expensive and time consuming.

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