PC Performance can be interpreted in several ways such as; the time it takes for startup, the time taken to open a particular program or the time it takes to browse the internet.
You may experience some or all of these symptoms and it can be difficult to know where to start. There are many factors that influence each of these which you can investigate individually.
There are also some very common items that will slow your PC to a crawl and leave you tearing your hair out waiting for something to happen. Below I have described 4 simple steps that will help to improve your computer without spending any money.
Malware can often get onto your PC without you knowing. It arrives from browsing or downloading applications from infected sites and often “piggy-backs” on a legitimate piece of software. It will take over some of the resources of your PC and can redirect your browsing to malicious web pages (often designed to look like the one you expect).
We recommend a regular scan of your hard disk with a reliable ant- malware application, there are several available but we have found that Malwarebytes has always been effective. A free version is available which works great but you need to remember to run it regularly for full protection. Go to the Malwarebytes site, download the software and allow it to install. Open the software and run a scan of your PC, allowing it to quarantine everything it finds. When it has completed restart the PC and run a further scan to ensure that no further infections are found. Continue this process until it reports no malicious software found.
Free disk space
Open File explorer by pressing the Windows key and the “E” key together and then highlight the “This PC” icon on the left of the screen. Check that drive C: has at least 20% free. Note: PC performance will be seriously affected if the free space falls below approx 20% of the total disk space available. Right click the icon for drive C: and select properties to see a better report on used and free space.
Access the Disk Clean-up utility from the drive properties screen. Disk clean-up checks your disk drive for unwanted files and will display those that can be removed. Select the ones that you are happy to remove and press Ok to allow the utility to remove them for you. Note: Select the “Clean up system files” option to perform a more detailed check of your disk.
Whenever you visit a web site and download any software you should always check that;
- the web site is legitimate (e.g. If you are downloading acrobat reader you should be getting it from adobe.com)
- uncheck or decline options to include additional software.
- You may be offered other installation options during the installation, consider them carefully before accepting. If in doubt decline the options offered.
If you already have unwanted software installed (or software that you no longer use) right click the Windows button on the bottom left of your screen and select “Programs and Features”. It may help if you sort the installed programs by installation date by clicking on the column header. Select each unwanted program individually and then use the Uninstall option to remove them.
PC Performance and Resources
If you have completed the 3 steps described above and you are still struggling to improve your PC performance you may need to look at the hardware and resources in use on your PC.
Open the Task manager by right clicking the task bar and selecting “Task Manager”. Select the Performance tab and then study each of the areas displayed.
Check the % utilisation for the processor. If it is constantly running towards 100% then you will need to discover which processes are the cause. Return to the Processes tab and sort by the CPU column by clicking on the column heading. Observe the top processes to determine which are causing the processor utilisation to be higher than expected. Note: it is possible that background tasks that are essential to Windows may be running and causing the problem. This is particularly the case in older and less powerful processors.
Study the memory usage. If it is running continuously at above 80% you should consider adding additional RAM. Note: RAM is relatively inexpensive, is easily fitted in most cases and can significantly improve your PC performance. Windows is able to run with just 2GB of installed RAM but upgrading it to 8GB will make a big difference in the majority of cases.
Normally disk activity will be low when your PC is not in use. If the active time is showing as near to 100% check what services and applications may be running. For example, Windows updates and anti-virus scans can work the disk hard and slow the response for other applications. If you are sure that there are no applications causing the disk activity consider performing a disk scan to check the integrity of the file system and the physical disk for damage.
Ethernet and wifi throughput.
In cases where there is a lot of activity on the network connections (ethernet or wireless) check that there are no large file transfers such as Windows updates, cloud backups or media streaming (films/music). If there is still a lot of activity after removing these perform another Malware scan of your PC as described above.