How To Keep Your PC Up To Speed

Chinese Internet surfers play online games on their computer stations at an Internet cafe in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006. Internet companies facing hearings Wednesday before angry U.S. lawmakers say they can't resist China's effort to censor the Web on their own. But industry analysts say that even if Washington tried to enforce free-speech standards, it is likely to have little effect.
Every few months I take my car to the mechanic for routine maintenance. As a result, it runs pretty much as well as it did the day I bought it. Can you say the same for your PC?

Probably not. Although PC hardware rarely deteriorates, most Windows machines tend to get sluggish over time. There are several culprits. For one thing, your PC may be infected with spyware – malicious programs that not only jeopardize your privacy but can slow down your machine because they use system resources to do their dastardly tasks.

Another thing that can slow down a PC is unnecessary data in the Windows registry. The registry is a database that contains information that Windows needs to execute programs.

When you first install Windows, the registry has only the information necessary for Windows itself,but as you install more software and create documents, the registry get filled with other information. Accessing that registry can take time which can cause your machine to slow down, especially when it starts up. Sometimes, the registry gets cluttered with unnecessary data – such as listings for programs that are no longer in use. Getting rid of that extra junk can help speed up your PC.

Disk fragmentation can also slow you down. Everything stored on a PC is in files but the data that makes up each file can be in a contiguous portion of the disk or it can be scattered throughout the disk.

Windows is smart enough to figure out where the data is, but if the data is not in one place, it can take longer to access. So, if pieces of a program are scattered around the disk, you may have to wait longer to execute that program because it takes time for the disk heads to move about the platter to gather the necessary information.

The same is true when you access a data file. Having all your files in contiguous parts of the disk means your machine will run faster.

There are other things that can slow down a machine. For example, even without malicious spyware, there are programs that are loaded automatically when you start Windows and each program takes time to load and uses up memory.

The more programs that are running, the slower your machine. While some of these programs are necessary, others may not be essential, so cutting down on the number of programs which load automatically upon startup can speed up the performance of your PC.

Even the way your machine's memory is configured can make a difference. All programs use memory but some do a better job than others of freeing up that memory when they are no longer running.

Click here to check out Larry Magid's podcast
interview of Iolo Technologies' Dennis Bottrell on
how to keep your PC running like new.

The good news is that there are ways to fix most of these problems but to do it right, you need a good mechanic. Fortunately, you can hire one that will work for you fulltime for less than my car mechanic charges for a single hour. System Mechanic 6.0 ($49.95) from Iolo Technologies can make a noticeable difference in your PCs overall performance.

The software is designed to optimize performance and repair common problems that can both slow down a machine and possibly cause it to fail. It can also help you make the most of your disk storage by deleting unnecessary files and can help assure your privacy by cleaning up some of the telltale files that are left behind when you access the Internet.

One of the most important pieces of this program is its registry cleaner, which analyzes the data in the registry and removes redundant, unnecessary and obsolete listings.

If you've had your machine for more than a few weeks, I can guarantee you have stuff in the registry that you can do without. Using this program will get rid of it and speed up your system. It also has a feature that will compact and defragment the registry, leading to even greater efficiencies.