While a lot of people are using Macs, there are also quite a few of our readers that use Windows, including their most recent release Windows 7. After the fiasco of Windows Vista, it feels nice to have a really nice functioning OS on our PCs. How would you improve performance and free up hard disk space if you have limited resources? Read on to find out more.
1. Toolbars Shmoolbars!
I for one do not use any type of toolbar. They are a gimmick, eat up hard disk space and RAM, and are just plain annoying sometimes. If you're the type of user that has 3 or 4 different toolbars, just uninstall them. I recently noticed that my wife had two Google search bars, one that came with her Firefox and one that was included in some toolbar.
Toolbars have been used by hackers and scammers, so that's just one more reason not to install any toolbars. I use the Del.icio.us Firefox add-on to bookmark and Read It Later to label articles that I want to read later.
2. Uninstall Useless Software
This is always a pain: you have a decent PC, but it's hobbled by hundreds of useless programs. If you don't use it weekly, then it's time to delete it. Click on the Start Menu, select Control Panel, and select Uninstall A Program from the Program Menu.
I tend to install programs as the need arises. Periodically, I'll go through the installed programs and uninstall software that I no longer use.
3. Maximize Hard Disk Performance
Most HD manufacturers will recommend that a hard disk be filled up to a third of total capacity for optimal performance. It's not always easy to do so, but if you backup your data periodically, you'll be able to free up much needed hard disk space. Burning DVDs can be tiresome, but after a few days of doing so, you'll have plenty of hard disk space available.
Personally, I've had bad luck with some HD manufacturers, but Western Digital drives have rarely faltered. When they did, the comprehensive warranty allowed me to receive a new HD even after 3 years of use!
4. Get Cheap Extra RAM
If you're not running 4-8GB of RAM, then you should. With the prices of RAM these days, PC owners should exploit this as much as possible. Windows 7 can also use removable storage as extra RAM. These can be flash drives, SD cards, or other type of removable storage. In a pinch, you can easily dedicate a USB port to this to speed things up. Windows 7 will prompt you to do so when you insert removable storage.
5. Hobbled Windows? Format!
Formatting your main drive is the answer to all problems for PCs. There are some persistent viruses that will remain past a format, but they aren't that numerous. Ultimately, if you function on a 2+ drive system, it's always best to have one drive, physical or logical, earmarked as your system drive. Usually, 50 to 100GB is enough for this purpose.
I use my D:\ drive as my data drive. There are no installed programs on that one. This means that if you format your computer, you won't be losing any data, since most if not all of your data is securely packed away on the D:\ drive. To make sure you don't lose anything, make sure that you backup My Documents, My Pictures, and the other files and folders that are usually stored on the system drive. You can change the location of these by going through the file folders, but it's not as convenient unless you've started off that way. The My Pictures tab/folder on my laptop points to a folder on D:\, as does the My Music and some of the other folders.
If you haven't formatted your computer before or have never done so, you should let someone who has more experience do it. You'll need a copy of the Windows DVD and run it so that it installs.
6. Antivirus Blues
Gone are the days when Symantec's Norton was king of the hill. I use Kaspersky Anti-Virus. I find that it works better for my usage than Avast. However, Avast is free to use and will work well for most casual users.