As a business, we often take for granted how technology impacts our performance – by relying on a range of applications to carry out our work, we instantly become dependent on our computers. But after a while, all those documents we’ve composed and images we’ve downloaded begin to take their toll on our computers – not to mention the use of old hardware and software updates we’ve neglected to install.
With poor computer performance an issue in the workplace, this impacts both on office resources as well as productivity. So what happens when that rapid speed you once enjoyed from opening files in an instant slows to crawling pace? While gut instinct says give it a frustrated kick in the hope it magically reverts to its original lightning speed when new, we’ve rounded up a six point checklist to get your computer back on ‘fast’ track:
- Windows Updates. To do this, click the Start button, select All programs, then click Windows Update. In the left pane, you’ll need to click Check for updates, then Windows will find the latest updates for your computer by checking back with Microsoft. Should any updates be found, you then need to click Install updates. Check your settings to see whether you’ve turn on automatic updating (which we strongly recommend), and enjoy a faster and safer PC experience.
- Windows Disk Cleanup. Those different images and documents you’ve accumulated during your computer’s lifecycle – do you really need them? Perform a Disk Cleanup to remove any temporary files as well as empty out the Recycle Bin. Additionally, Disk Cleanup will also get rid of system files and other items that are no longer needed.
- Disable Your Startup Items. Several programs are designed to launch automatically when Window starts up, with many set to open in the background possibly without your knowledge. To view which programs are currently in use, click the Show hidden icons button in the notification area (located at the bottom right of the taskbar in the form of an upward facing arrow). Additionally, you can also download a program called AutoRuns – a free tool available from the Microsoft website. This will list all the programs running when your PC boots up, and will let you stop certain programs from launching automatically when Windows starts. Simply open the AutoRuns for Windows program, and you’ll see which programs could be clogging up your system. Then clear the check box alongside the name of the program you want to stop running.
- Defragment Your Hard Disk. When you save a document on your computer, the data may not all be saved together (contiguously), but will be stored in a random way throughout your hard disk drive on multiple platters of the disk – the data is fragmented. When you need to get back the data, this fragmentation hinders the performance of your PC as it takes time to search across the hard drive for the fragmented data. Performing a defrag, puts back the data sequential order so your drive head doesn’t need to take so long reading the different platters to read a single file. To defragment your hard disk, open Disk Defragmenter via the Start button – type Disk Defragmenter in the search box, then select this option. Under the heading of Current status, choose which disk you want to defragment. To assess whether it needs to be defragmented, select Analyse disk, then once it’s been analysed, you can review the percentage of fragmentation on the disk (which can be seen in the Last Run column). If the figure is above 10 per cent, the disk will need defragmenting. Finally, select Defragment disk – but be prepared to wait, as it could take anything from a few minutes to several hours until it’s completed.
- Uninstall Unwanted Programs. Just as you’ve deleted documents you no longer need, apply the same approach by uninstalling any programs you no longer use, as programs can clutter up your drive and affect the performance. If you are using Windows 7, you can follow these steps to uninstall a particular program:
- Click the Start button
- Select Control Panel
- Click on Programs, then choose Programs and Features
- Click on the program you no longer want, then click Uninstall – and your program will be removed from your computer forever (until you decide you need it and wish to reinstall it)
If you are using Windows 8, take the following steps:
- Click / tap Search by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, or pointing to the top-right corner of the screen
- Search for ‘control panel’ in the search box, then tap or click Control Panel
- Ensure the view is set to Large Icons, then tap or click Programs and Features
- Tap or click the relevant program, then tap or click Uninstall
- Check for malware. Malware is another common culprit in the underperformance of your computer. It is malicious software which is usually installed without your knowledge at the same time as a legitimate piece of software. Check to see if your PC is currently using any antivirus or antispyware programs to minimise the risk. One tool that will help remove unwanted software is Windows Defender, which will notify you should any spyware attempt to run or install itself on your computer. However, if you choose to remove spyware manually, then install a relevant antivirus program, check Programs and Features for items that should not be on your computer, then Reinstall Windows.
Learn about how you can enjoy peak performance on your computer, getting expert advice from our IT Specialists – alternatively, visit our Help section for further resources.