In this article I will explain how to fix a slow computer. If you follow all of these steps your system will perform as it should. The following procedures will probably take a couple of hours or more to accomplish. If you are using Windows Vista I would advise turning off User Account Control temporarily. I would advise strongly on creating a restore point before going any further with this article, that way if you make a mistake you can easily start over.
To create a restore point in Windows XP, do the following: click Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore and then following the steps in the wizard.
To create a restore point using Windows Vista do the following: Click Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | System Restore | click on “Open System Protection” | Place a checkmark in the (C) box | Click “Create” | type a name for the restore point and click “Create”, I usually type in today’s date.
The first thing we should do is make sure we have enough system RAM (Random Access Memory). How does RAM work? When you are working on your computer you may be surfing the Internet, writing a document and have your picture program open all at the same time. Windows stores this information in RAM, when windows runs out of RAM it uses a file on your computer called a swap file which is known as Virtual Memory. If the system starts to use Virtual Memory it will slow down as it isn’t as fast as using RAM. To understand the process better please read my article describing the differences between RAM and Virtual Memory. If you are running an XP operating system you should have 2GB of RAM installed in your computer system. If you are running any flavour of Windows Vista you should have at least 4GB of RAM.
If you are using Windows XP do the following to find out how much RAM you have installed. Click Start | Right click “My Computer” | Select “Properties” | Click the “General tab” | You should now be viewing the general properties sheet, if you have less than 2GB of RAM you should upgrade as soon as possible.
If you are running any flavour of Windows Vista do the following to determine how much system RAM you have. Click Start | Right click “Computer” | select “Properties” | You should now see how much memory (RAM) you have. If you have less than 4GB please upgrade as soon as possible. RAM is inexpensive these days, take advantage of the low cost while you can. You will be amazed what an extra GB of RAM can do to help speed up your PC.
What speed of RAM should I buy? One of my biggest pet peeves when I work on systems is the speed of RAM I see in systems. You should always match speeds for best performance. If I see one more system with three different speeds of RAM I will snap. If you are running 400MHz RAM then you should upgrade with 400MHz RAM not 266MHz or 333MHz. Installing a stick of 400MHz RAM into a system that already has 333MHz RAM is pointless, the 400MHz RAM will clock down to 333MHz, which pretty much makes the procedure pointless. Yes, it will boost your performance but you are not taking full advantage. To find out what speed of RAM you are using you could take the side panel off of your system and physically remove 1 stick to find out, or you could download CPUID which will give you information on a host of items in your computer including RAM speed. If you own a Dell – HP – Compaq or IBM, just go to their web site and type in your model number or service tag for the information.
Instead of purchasing more system RAM you do have another option if you are using Windows Vista. You could take a 2GB USB Flash drive and use that in conjunction with Superfetch. The idea would be to use the flash drive as extra virtual memory. This nifty little feature is only available in Vista and is called ReadyBoost. In doing this you are using a chip to chip technology which is faster than a hard drive swap file known as Virtual Memory. In order to take advantage of ReadyBoost you must use a USB Flash drive that is compatible and has at least 256MB of RAM. You can pick up a 2GB flash drive for under $20USD in today’s market. I would suggest using a rear USB port for this procedure. To use ReadyBoost do the following:
Insert your flash drive then click Start | click “Computer” | Right Click your flash drive and select “Properties” | Click the “Readyboost tab | Click “Use this device” | Select the amount of space you want to dedicate, more is better. | Click “OK”. If you remove the flash drive ReadyBoost will be disabled, but no need to worry because the files were only temporary anyway.
Now that we have RAM out of the way let’s move on to the second part of how to fix a slow computer.
When you are finished with this article make sure to learn how to turn Windows Vista features on or off in order to speed up your computer even more.