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7 Regular Tasks To Make Your Windows 7 PC Faster

The cartoon produced by Theoatmeal (opens in new tab) illustrates very well the phases through which consumers go after they purchased a computer, from being enthused to feeling slightly bored and let down (ed : theoatmeal uses slightly less politically correct terms to describe them though).

We are going to provide you with seven tips to keep your Windows 7 (and any other Windows-based) computers in tip top shape, just like you'd try to get in shape after the festive period.

(a) Defragmentation

Microsoft has bundled a defragmentation tool with Windows 7 and most Windows OS, including the old Windows 95. Fragmentation is a process where chunks of files that are logically viewed as one unit by the OS (like a movie file) are physically separated on your hard disk drive. This can cause your computer to slow down.

Defragmentation brings the units physically closer by rearranging these units. You can schedule the defragmentation process to take place regularly. Our PC is set to run every week.

(b) Check what software you need

Check whether you still need applications installed in the past. Maybe you tried that last version of Mozilla Firefox or Opera and a brand new version has just been launched.

You certainly don't need six different browsers on your computer so you can uninstall some of those to save on disk space. Strictly speaking, uninstalling software does not make your PC faster but removing any software entry from your OS's registry, increasing free disk space and ticking off any applications that run in your startup menu will certainly. We'd suggest you do that every month at least.

(c) Check for software/driver updates

Microsoft regularly sends security updates down the internet every month or so in what is known as Patch Tuesday. Likewise, it is strongly advisable that you look for the latest updates for your applications and drivers as they might introduce new features, solve performance issues and close security vulnerabilities.

A note of caution though; updates can work both ways and unless you know how to "rollback" any installations, it is not advisable to go down that route. Don't change something that might be working perfectly.

(d) Empty your bin

When was the last time you emptied your bin? Last week or so? And what about your computer's recycle bin? Unless you specifically ask for the recycle bin to delete files forever, all the files that you have deleted since the last purge are likely to stay there.

Because it consumes hard disk space and is therefore prone to fragmentation, we suggest that you empty your recycle bin every week. It only takes a few seconds to do anyway.

(e) Clean BEHIND your computer

In the office here, all active computers are located on our desks, not under them. Why? because they are less likely to accumulate dust and therefore run the risk of overheating (as fans get clogged) and other undesirable consequences.

Cleaning is tedious and we'd therefore recommend some house-keeping tips like maintaining your cables in order and making sure it is easy to vacuum-clean behind the base unit.

Don't forget to clean your desk, keyboard, mouse and screen as well as regularly as possible. Keyboards are particularly nasty when it comes to harbouring all kinds of nasty bits.

(f) Run CCleaner

One of the most important pieces of software in our computer cleaning toolbox is CCleaner where the first "C" stands for c**p.

It is a straight forward, easy to use application that removes unwanted files like temporary files created by other applications, Windows Log files or memory dumps.

When run for the first time, you might be surprised by the amount of hard disk it frees. There's also a registry integrity checker which analyses your OS registry for potential issues. Using it on a monthly basis would be a good way of maintaining your PC in working order. You can download it here for free (opens in new tab).

(g) Run Anti Malware software

Surfing the web doesn't come without risks. You are likely to pick up quite a number of so called malware. An easy way of eliminating this threat, which can cause your computer to slow down significantly and can have even more serious consequences, is to install and run Spyware Search and Destroy (which you can download here (opens in new tab)).

The free application has been tried and tested by millions and has proved to be a major success.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.