Speed Up a New Computer By Removing Unnecessary Junk

August 19, 2013

Speed Up ComputerA good buddy of mine got a new laptop recently and was disappointed because it felt sluggish and his browser would hang on a regular basis. Sadly this is quite common when you buy a new computer (desktop or laptop) from one of the major manufacturers.

One method used to provide the least expensive price to you is that they will agree to pre-install software on every computer for a fee paid by the software company. Sure, you get a better price this way, but you also get a computer that performs far below what is possible.

When I first say down with my friend’s laptop, I turned it on and waited for everything to load. Then I checked to see how many resources were being used. This machine had the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Home Premium installed and it was outfitted with 4 GB of RAM. When everything was loaded, 48% of available memory was being used. Windows itself does take up some memory, but having half of all memory taken before starting to run any software is not a good thing.

Startup Programs

When companies pay the computer manufacturers to install their software, they often stipulate that it should also be loaded every time the computer runs. Of course there is also software you install that feels it should run automatically. The result is that all that stuff loading every time you boot the computer can quickly fill up your memory.

Microsoft includes a configuration utility, MSCONFIG, that allows you to edit the programs being run at startup. You access this utility by typing “MSCONFIG.EXE” in the Run box on the Start menu. There are also numerous utilities that give you access to the list of Startup programs. Use whatever method works best for you to clean up the programs. A good (and free) choice is CCleaner. I wrote about it in CCleaner Can Restore System Speed By Cleaning Up Junk.

Now you may feel inclined to simply remove every single program to get the best results. That isn’t a good idea as some of the software may be required. In looking at the list on this computer, I saw Skype was one of the programs running automatically. I asked about it and the only time he had used Skype was to talk to his daughter when she was studying abroad in Europe for a couple of months. He can certainly run it when needed, but it was removed from the list of Startup programs. We went through the list and knocked out at least 8-10 different programs that we didn’t feel needed to be run automatically.

Uninstall Junk

While some software, like Skype, can be useful; there are other pieces of software that you simply don’t need. In looking at the installed programs on the laptop, I found two different browser toolbars installed. I asked if he used either of them and he didn’t. Those were uninstalled. We also saw a tool for interacting with Blackberry smartphones. I know he uses an Android phone and asked him how he used the Blackberry utility. He didn’t and so it was uninstalled. This continued and we uninstalled a handful of other programs he didn’t need.

The Preliminary Results

After about an hour of cleanup, we rebooted and there was now 28% of the RAM in use. That means we had saved 20% by either uninstalling software or simply removing it from the list of Startup programs. Unfortunately the battery on the laptop was running dangerously low and he had forgotten to bring along the cord. If I had another hour, I probably could have saved another 5% of the memory or more. We still made very good progress in a short amount of time and the computer is running much faster now and the browser doesn’t hang!

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