I come from a long streak of usage of Microsoft Windows. From 3.1 to XP and Vista, I’ve used Windows for pretty much my entire computer based life. (Though in the last year I’ve switched from Windows to Ubuntu Linux).
So with the aim of providing you with something practical, I’ve come up with a short list of things for you to check and consider when it comes to computer performance on a Windows system.
1. If your copy of Norton Internet Security/Antivirus is expired, DON’T RENEW IT! In fact, uninstall it as soon as possible. While Norton is a well known name, it has also become well known for not doing what it’s supposed to do at times, and more importantly, it slows your system down greatly. Instead of using Norton Anti-Virus, try AVG Free. It doesn’t cost anything, and CNET gave it 5 stars. It is a lightweight software that won’t bog your computer down when you first turn it on. For a firewall, consider using Zone Alarm, or the firewall that is built into Windows itself.
2. Skip Vista:
If you own XP, and are considering upgrading to Vista, DON’T DO IT! Vista, for lack of a better word, sucks. It is LITERALLY the slowest operating system on the planet, and you’ll find yourself wondering what you spent 200 dollars or more for in the first place. If you were looking for eye candy, consider switching to Ubuntu Linux. Otherwise, stick with Windows XP. Compared to Vista, it’s everything Vista said it could be, but a lot faster. XP is in line to get a 3rd service pack released shortly, and will be supported for a few more years to come. Get your money’s worth, and don’t spend more on a product you want but don’t need.
3. Switch to FireFox: I suggest this mostly because Firefox has a better reputation for being the web browser that is more stable as well as more secure. Tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, RSS management, and version 3 right around the corner. You don’t have to replace Internet Explorer, but it would be good to expose yourself to an alternative once in a while so you know what is available out there.
4. Disable any programs that you don’t need at boot time: If you’re the kind of person who has Yahoo Messenger, the Weatherbug, third-party task bars (“toolbars”) that you almost never use or need, or any number of other such software loading when you first start Windows, seek a way to disable it. For users who are a little better than Novice, try running “msconfig”. In it, you’ll find a “startup” tab, which you can sort through and uncheck any application you don’t want to have load right off the bat. You aren’t uninstalling anything doing this, just disabling it from loading at first boot. This will help your system start faster. Another thing you can try is opening your control panel and using the Add/Remove Programs applet to uninstall software you don’t use.
5. Consider upgrading your system memory: If you’ve done all of the above, and your system still runs sluggishly, perhaps you need a memory upgrade. If you’re running XP, I would recommend no less than 512 megs of ram, or at least a 1 gigabyte if your a hardcore gamer. This will help your system boot faster and run more smoothly over all. The less ram you have, the more work your hard drive has to do, and that extra waiting time can really add up.
To attest to how efficient I keep my own Windows machines, I have a 366 Mhz laptop with less than 200 megabytes of ram running XP. Sticking with AVG as my virus scanner from day one has always kept me protected and my system running smoothly. Albeit, not the fastest machine in the world, but it is still plenty capable of browsing most Internet websites, doing word processing, and a few other common tasks. If XP can run “acceptably” on a system that old, your should be able to do the same or better with the 5 tips listed here.