Clean up the Computer
Among other factors that slows down access to the HDD are temporary files, leftovers from uninstalls, cookies, logs and many more unnecessary files occupy precious space on your hard drive- giving a boost to fragmentation. It is necessary that you get rid of these files so that your data files are stored contiguously. Though there is a built-in Disk Cleanup Wizard in the Accessories submenu under All Programs, it offers limited cleaning. The only advantages I can see with Windows Disk Cleanup are compression of old files and removal of old System Restore Points.
Though a useful feature, System Restore consumes a considerable part of your hard drive for storing settings for each restore point. I recommend turning off System Restore on all drives except for the system drive (often the C drive) by right-clicking My Computer to select Properties. In the resultant window, click the System Restore tab. Click on each drive other than root and click on the Settings button to turn off monitoring of that drive. Finally, select the C drive, click the Settings button and limit the space used by System Restore. This will free up more space for your programs while also speeding up your computer.
For a full cleanup, I use and recommend the free Comodo System Cleaner (download link). It defrags your system registry, allowing resolution of keys to start programs faster, while removing all unwanted files and privacy settings. It has the option for safe cleaning and can be scheduled to run weekly or monthly so that your hard disk is uncluttered thereby speeding up your computer.
Once in a while - when you feel that your computer is working all fine - use the Windows Disk Cleanup Wizard to remove older System Restore points. A proper cleanup will give you ample space to create new files that are not much fragmented.
To sum up, a scheduled system cleaning combined with auto defragmenting helps you keep your HDD optimized for faster access so that you feel like you are working on a new HDD. The answer to how to speed up your hard disk drive could be using two additional software regularly: Ccleaner and SmartDefrag.