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Jamie Leben

How to Tune Up Your PC for Better Performance

Jamie Leben, CUGG

Presented for CUGG on April 12, 2008

Before performing any of these steps, create a backup, as data loss or computer malfunction may occur.  IT-Works or Jamie Leben is not responsible for any potential damage that may be caused by following this guide.  This process should be performed approximately monthly.  This guide does not address performance issues potentially caused by virus or malware infection.



Make a backup, as data loss or computer malfunction may occur at any time.


Hard drive errors

Check for hard drive errors:

Start Right-click My Computer Left-click Manage Left-click Event Viewer Double-click System

Under the Source column look for any "disk" errors, which indicate a likely need for immediate replacement of your hard drive, and may be the entire cause of your slow PC.  Proceed no further if you find "disk" errors.  If no disk errors appear, proceed to the following task.


RAM check

Check your total RAM and available RAM:

Press CTRL + ALT + DEL Task Manager Performance tab

Under Physical Memory the "total" is the total amount of RAM in your computer in kilobytes; divide by 1024 to get the number of megabytes.  "Available" is the unused amount of RAM in your computer in kilobytes; divide by 1024 to get megabytes.  If you have less than half of your RAM available (or less than ~1000MB), it's time for a RAM upgrade.


Hard Drive Space check

Open My Computer, right-click your C: drive, left-click Properties.

If the free space is less than 25%, either uninstall unused programs and delete unneeded files, archive old files to backup media, then delete from the hard drive, or get a bigger hard drive


Device Manager

Check for driver problems:

Start Right-click My Computer Left-click Manage Left-click Device Manager

Look for any items that have a yellow triangle over them, indicating a driver problem, download and install updated drivers from the manufacturer to resolve the driver issue.  Close Computer Management when you are finished.



Restart your PC to work from a fresh boot


System Restore point

Set a system restore point:

Start All Programs Accessories System Tools System Restore Create a restore point Next Name it Create Close



A Large number of fonts installed can slow boot time.  To view your installed fonts:

Start Control Panel Fonts

Uninstall excessive (more than 500 or so) fonts.  For more advice on manage fonts, search for too many fonts with Google.

Here's a good one:


Programs installed

Uninstall programs you don't use:

Start Control Panel Add/remove programs

Select unused programs and click uninstall.


Notification area programs

The Notification Area is the set of icons immediately to the left of the clock on the right side of the task bar.  A large number of icons (more than 15) indicates a large number of startup applications, all of which use RAM and CPU resources.  If your not sure what an icon does, double click it to see what it is called, then Google it to see if it needs to be running.  Many programs have a preferences menu with an option to not have it start when Windows loads, others start from msconfig or the Windows Startup folder.  Err on the side of leaving things running if your not sure what a program does (you should find out though)


Startup items

To cut down on the number of programs running at Windows startup, reduce the items in the Startup folder:

Start All Programs Startup

Search for what each item in Startup does, generally most items in startup can be deleted. To remove an item, right-click on the icon, left-click Delete.



Use msconfig to further reduce the number of startup programs:

Start Run type msconfig Click OK Left-click the Startup tab expand the Command column

Search for each item to determine what it does, and if you can uncheck it to disable it.  Items that don't appear in a Google search may indicate malware.  When in doubt, leave an item enabled.  Click OK when done.  Reboot as suggested.  Uncheck the "show this at startup" message after reboot



CCleaner is a freeware (donate if you like their software) system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused and temporary files from your system, as well as registry errors.  Download CCleaner from and install it (you may want to uncheck the "install yahoo toolbar" option).  Start CCleaner from the desktop icon, click the Cleaner tab, and click analyze.  After analysis is done, click run cleaner, click the Registry tab, click scan for issues.  After the scan is done, click fix selected issues, make a backup of the registry changes to your C: drive, then click fix all selected issues.

Under the "tools" tab, there are options for removing startup items, just like the previous startup and msconfig steps.


Reboot again

Make sure your computer is still functional after the changes you've made so far


Disk cleanup

Disk cleanup removes temporary files from your system that may be slowing it down.

Start All Programs Accessories System Tools Disk Cleanup.

Wait for it to scan (may take several minutes).  Select everything to be removed (generally, check all boxes), click OK, and wait for the cleanup to finish (can take several minutes to an hour).


Disk Defrag

A fragmented hard disk slows down the system.  Disk defragmenter reduces fragmentation, speeding the system.

Start All Programs Accessories System Tools Disk Defragmenter Click the C: drive click Analyze.  Defragment if suggested (can take an hour or more).


Enjoy your faster computer!


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