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Speeding Up Slow PCs

written by: •edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 2/9/2010

If the current economic crunch has caused you to put off buying a new computer, there are still quite a few things you can do to give new life to an older, slow computer. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the software you can use to speed up your current PC.

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    Can Slow Computers Really Be Fixed?

    There are many people out there who still believe that it’s only natural for older computers to be slow and that the only solution to the problem is to buy a new computer. It’s true that computers will slow down over time, but these issues aren’t always related to hardware problems or malfunctioning devices. Often, it’s just a case of there being too much “junk" stored on the machine or storage space being used in an inefficient manner. Additionally, a bloated startup sequence and other general settings can add to the slowness of a PC. In these cases, there really are things that can be done to speed up the computer and make it run more efficiently.

    So, what steps can you take to speed up a slow computer? There are several measures you can take without using third-party software even if you don’t consider yourself to be that technically inclined. However, if you’re really worried that anything you try might make the problem worse or even “break" your computer, there are some software products that will perform many of these functions for you.

    Be a little wary though – as we have mentioned in other Bright Hub articles on system performance software, not all of these products will do as claimed. In fact, some of these programs may even be completely fake. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some really great applications on the market – just be sure to do a little research before investing your money in the software or even downloading a free utility. Check for reviews on reputable sites like Bright Hub that have no vested interest in the product. If you can’t find honest reviews on the software at such a place, that alone should send up some warning flags.

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    Which Software is Reputable?

    Despite the ominous warnings in the last section, there actually are several reputable applications that you can download and start using right away. Some of these are free, and others have relatively modest price tags, still inexpensive enough to be worth the purchase.

    One application that I’ve recently tried after reading the advice of Bill Fulks is the defragging utility PerfectDisk 10. Even though Windows comes with a built-in defragging program, it’s not that great and it takes forever to run. Up until recently, I’ve been using Auslogic Disk Defrag instead since it’s free and does a pretty good job. But, I really like the extra features found in PerfectDisk 10, especially the SMARTPlacement functionality, so I think it’s worth its fairly cheap price.

    For optimizing Windows startup, cleaning out junk files, and making web browsers run faster, I still prefer SpeedUpMyPC 2009. It’s fast and easy to use, and I almost always notice an immediate improvement whenever I run the application. Plus, I like the built-in functionality of the program that lets me analyze startup processes to see which programs they’re related to and if I can really remove them without creating any negative side effects.

    Another application that I’ve recently tested and really like is Registry Booster 2009. There’s quite a bit of controversy surrounding registry cleaners and optimizers, especially since there are so many rogue versions floating around the Internet. So, again, I’ll reiterate my warnings of caution when downloading and installing performance software, especially registry cleaners. With that being said, Uniblue – the developer of Registry Booster 2009 – is a very reputable company with a number of solid offerings. After using this application on several different machines, I’ve been impressed with the results, especially with how it managed to boost an older XP system.

    These aren’t the only programs available to help speed up old computers. If you’d like to check out other reviews or get some tips on things you can do without the help of third-party software, visit the Window’s Channel System Performance area. Or, if you have questions or personal experience of your own that you’d like to share, visit our discussion forums.