Saving Money On IT: 8 Tips To Speed Up Your Systems, Extend Their Life, And Be More Productive

Sluggish computers got you down? You’re not alone – many people make the mistake of letting their slow computers cost them time, money and headaches. Sometimes, folks will even resort to buying a new machine rather than resolving the slow computer issues.

Here are eight tips that will help you speed up your systems, extend their life, and let you be more productive – all without investing a lot of money or time.

Physical Cleanliness
It is a best practice to clean your system at least once every quarter. You can use a vacuum to clean the outside of the computer case, and keyboard for starters. You should NOT vacuum the inside of the case – this creates static electricity which could damage the system.

Obviously you never want to get the inside damp, wet, or use liquid cleaners on it. The best way to keep the inside clean is to get a can of compressed air. Simply blow out the system fans and any accumulated dust and debris. Fans can become clogged after time, and prevent proper cooling, which greatly affects the performance.

Software Management
Over time, installed software can clutter up the system, and often, installed applications are forgotten about over time. Regularly checking your program list and removing anything that hasn’t been used in a while is another best practice.

Simply go to Start->Control Panel->Add/Remove Programs. From there you can check through the list of installed programs, and decide which ones should go, and which ones can stay.

Start Up (Boot Up)
You may have noticed that the system used to start up a lot faster than it does now. In most cases, this can be easily resolved by clearing out the programs that are set to run at startup.

Most users don’t even realize there are several programs starting up when they turn their systems on. Ideally, you would want as few applications as possible to start up, and then open programs as they are needed.

Simply go to Start->Run>type in “msconfig” (without the parenthesis). This will bring up the Microsoft Configuration Utility. From there, you can choose the startup tab, and get a list of programs that are set to start when Windows is starting up. You can simply check/uncheck which programs you want.

Clean Up The Cache
Every time you visit a web site, the content and pictures are downloaded to a temporary holding area on your hard drive, called the cache. The Internet cache is useful because it helps websites load faster the next time you visit them. Over time, the cache can take up disk space, and cause the system to run slower.

I’d suggest keeping your cache cleared, simply by running a disk cleanup. This will allow you to remove the following: temporary Internet files, downloaded program files, offline webpage’s, files in the recycle bin, temporary files, and “compress old files.”

Disk Defragmentation
Sometimes when you install new programs, or create new data files, the files end up being chopped up into chunks and stored in multiple locations on the hard disk. This is called fragmentation.

Disk defragmentation basically takes all of your files, and arranges them in a logical order. It’s like having all of your files in a filing cabinet scattered, and then re-arranging so everything is in order, and similar files are grouped with each other.

So next time you go to call on a file, data source, program, etc.the specified data is all grouped together making it faster to access and load. This should be done at least once a month.

Antivirus Scanning
We all know the problems that viruses and spyware can cause! Spyware and virus activity is one of the biggest culprits of slow moving computers, and having an active antivirus program doing daily system scans is always a best practice. This will ensure your system’s performance is not at jeopardy due to malicious related software.

Keeping your Windows operating system up to date will ensure you have the latest service packs, security patches, third party device drivers, and many other critical updates to your Microsoft Windows operating system.

Keep Windows Up to Date
Microsoft allows the automatic update and installation of updates if configured properly. Simply right click the My Computer icon, and choose automatic updates tab. From there you can decide what day you want updates to run, and whether or not you want them to be downloaded and/or installed.

Clean The Registry
The registry is a database which stores most of the settings and options for Microsoft Windows operating systems. It contains information and settings for hardware, operating system software, and per-user settings.

CAUTION: In most cases, only advanced users should edit the registry!!

Over time, programs can cause clogging of the registry, which will affect system performance; a great tool to run on this would be CCleaner; which is a free download available at

So if you want to speed your systems, extend the life of your computer, and learn to be more productive with your pc, without spending a bunch of money or time doing so, follow some of these best practices, and you will be well on your way to a more efficient, and pleasant time on the computer.