Like a car, it's always a good idea to take your computer in for a regular "tune up" to optimize your machine's performance. We've pushed a few maintenance tips for OS X users, and now we've got 10 ways to tune up tips for your PC, directly from the horse's mouth, Microsoft...
The only two things you'll need for the PC computer equivalent of the tune up/oil change is a 1GB+ USB flash drive. Most of these tips directly from Microsoft are common sense habits, but they're also easily forgotten...until you notice your machine isn't performing as fast as it's capable of:
1. Turn on Automatic Updates
Make sure you are set up to get automatic updates from Microsoft to keep your OS up to date. You can make sure this it turned on by going to the Microsoft Update website for your machine's status.
2. Check Your PC's Performance
To check your PC's performance in Windows 7, click the Start button , type Performance in the search box, and then click Performance Information and Tools in the search results. You can further optimize the performance with these additional tips from Microsoft.
3. Check Your Action Center
Windows 7's Action Center can be a helpful tool to tell you exactly which tasks you need to get to ASAP, including security warnings and update messages. Keep an eye out for these notifications and you'll be keeping ahead of problems.
4. Inject a Speed Boost with ReadyBoost
If you have a USB drive with at least 1 GB to spare you may be able to make your system faster using ReadyBoost. ReadyBoost uses available storage space on a removable device to boost your system speed. Most flash drives and flash memory cards can help speed up your computer.
5. Monitor Your CPU Performance
Check the Performance tab in Windows Task Manager to see if the application or media you are watching/listening is hogging up your CPU. This can give you a good idea where your CPU and RAM are throwing their weight at.
6. Monitor Virus and Spyware
These two infections are a common reason why Windows machines see slowdown. Malware can be kept in check by simply by downloading the free Microsoft Security Essentials. Bolster your protection with additional (free) malware protection software.
7. Unclutter Your Hard Drive
Turn to Disk Cleanup to do a little spring cleaning and regain some hard drive space. When you use Disk Cleanup you will toss out those old unneeded temporary files, all the trash in your Recycle Bin, and many other bits and pieces that are no longer needed.
8. Run Inventory and Uninstall Unused Applications
Bloatware and outdated applications can be taking up an excess of hard drive space, and some of these programs run in the background upon startup whether you are using them or not. If you don't need the program, uninstall it. But remember, if you don't recognize a program name or know what it does, don't uninstall it until you've checked to see if it's software essential to running your PC.
9. Defrag Your Hard Drive
To boost your computer's speed and overall performance, defrag your hard drive on occasion. In Windows 7, Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data, making your computer operate more efficiently.
10. Turn to the Toolbox of Troubleshooting Utilities
In Windows 7, the maintenance troubleshooter fixes problems, such as cleaning up unused files and shortcuts, so your computer can run faster. The performance troubleshooter checks specifically for performance issues. Both are quick and easy to use and may provide you with some useful suggestions.