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How to Speed Up Your Computer

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A couple of years ago, set out to end cable box fees forever. That journey lead me to buy an HDHomeRun PRIME and hook it up a small computer running Windows Media Center.

For a technology system consisting of a few parts it's has actually worked out fairly well. There is an occasional hiccup where I have to restart the computer, but it has only been about 5 times... and fortunately, I didn't miss anything important like a Patriots game.

However, over the last four months, I noticed that the video would slur a bit... about every 30 seconds it would do it for a second. It's not a great experience, but you still get the idea of the show you are watching. The problem comes in when you are watching a Bruins game and they score during a blur. That's exactly what happened to me yesterday.

I had been trying quite a few things to fix the blur. I looked to make sure the hardware wasn't overheating. I checked to make sure that I good video codecs installed. Since the computer should be more than powerful enough, I had that way down on my list of things to check.

Big mistake.

After the goal (which gave the Bruins a healthy cushion with little time remaining), I went through and uninstalled every program that I wasn't 100% sure that I needed. Then I went through and took away any special effects that makes Windows pretty (more on this later). When I went back to the game the slur was gone. It didn't come back for the rest of the night. I'm knocking on a Sequoia tree right now. (However, if it comes back, I can do a lot more things.)

This reminded me that I'm not sure if I've written on this topic before. The reason why is that there are lot of guides out there that do a good job of it. Also it straddles the line of being a technology post and a frugal post. Why frugal? Well if you can speed up your computer, you can delay buying a new one.

Before I give you the guide that I found most helpful, I'll share a trick that I do. I put all my data in separate area of the hard drive under a folder called... you guessed it... Data. That means that pictures, text documents, Word documents, videos, etc. all goes here. It's organized into a million sub-directories like those for business and those for home. However, the end result is that I can take this information with me to any computer and reasonably do my work there. This comes in particularly handy with the best computer speed up trick of all time:

Format the hard drive and reinstall Windows from scratch. Obviously before you format the hard drive, you'll want to move the data to SD card or a thumb drive (maybe you already have a back-up in the cloud). After reinstalling Windows, just grab the latest versions of the applications you need, put this directory back in place and you are good to go.

With that said, How To Geek has a number of other, less drastic solutions. You could probably get lost in all the articles that are linked in that one article, but hopefully just a few steps brings your computer back to working great again. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the use minimal visual effects that I mentioned above.

Posted on May 20, 2013.

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7 Responses to “How to Speed Up Your Computer”

  1. Money Beagle says:

    Once a computer starts to slow down, a rebuild is the only way you’ll ever get it back to it’s full speed. Any software removals or cleanup tools are going to get you only a fraction of what you have lost.

  2. Steve says:

    What is this, 1996? Who reinstalls Windows regularly?

    We don’t install anything on our media centers (right?), so it shouldn’t be slowing down over time.

    That said, I had some problems with our Media Center (which is not “more than powerful enough” but is generally OK) slowing down when recording two things at once and playing a third. The search indexer can’t keep up. You can turn off search temporarily, but apparently WMC uses it when searching e.g. for new programs to record.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I’ve tried a number of services that help transcode the shows and make them portable (bring them on a tablet for example) or enable them on the cloud for streaming around the home.

      Hmm, the search indexer was one of the things that I shut down yesterday. I guess we’ll see if it records Revolution tonight ;-).

  3. Yeah, reformatting is a good solution. Rather than spending countless of hours deleting and uninstalling those software and files, save important data on your external hard drive and reformat it from scratch. You also remove any unknown viruses you might have.

  4. I can definitely say that re-installing windows fresh was the only thing that sped up my ancient windows xp laptop. Ran C cleaner, defragged regular, deleted unnecessary files…only thing that worked though was the fresh install.

  5. I have tried uninstalling programs and things I rarely or never used or just things that took up a lot of space. For a time it seems it works but really that did nothing. Sometime I wonder if the computer is slowing of if I just get use to using ones that are faster.

  6. […] already written about How to Speed Up Your Computer, but after you take all those steps, what do you […]

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