After college, I spent 13 years as a computer programmer and it wasn’t until after I changed careers in 1997 that I owned my first PC. Before that, I felt like it was bringing work home. Of course, at that time the internet was still in it’s infancy – nothing compared with what it is today.
And, for any blogger, making sure that you can keep your computer working as well as possible is a must. Of course, that really applies for anyone owning a PC or laptop and every business as well. And, after 13 years programming, I was pretty much trained to know how to keep things running as good as possible, as it was a habit. And, to keep your computer running as well as possible, there’s four areas that you should be concerned about (and I like to keep things as simple as possible, because that reduces the probability of a problem occurring).
Limit the programs that begin running when you boot up your computer.
Occasionally I’ll be asked to fix someone’s laptop or PC and not long ago a friend called to ask me to work on his and his wife’s laptops. He came by and dropped them off with me. And, after he left, I got to work, on his laptop.
I booted up the computer, which took quite long compared with what it should be. And he had so many programs “starting at boot up” that it was incredibly slow. There were various boxes opening, blinking, and doing everything it could do to distract me. I was shocked at how many were running!
Here’s a simple and important principle:
If you are not going to be using the program as soon as you boot up, it should not be starting with the boot up.
In fact, no other programs other than what’s necessary to boot up and get you to your desktop, should be running. None! If you want your computer to run as well as possible, then don’t overload your processor (the computer chip(s)) needlessly. You should never have other programs starting at boot up because of the strain on the processor. Processors can burn out and that can happen in time, so you don’t need to shorten the life of your processor.
The next area of concern is junk files, therefore you need to clean them out of your computer.
Everyone, including you bloggers, spends time on the internet for things other than your blogs. The thing is, everything that is part of a website is stored in temporary folders in your hard-drive (usually the C Drive). For example, the background image for my blog looks like this:
This is just one image file and there can be many on websites that you visit and they’re all stored in your computer. Once you’re done and you’re ready to shut down, these files will remain in your computer unless you clean them out. And, if you don’t clean them out, in time the amount of your storage space that these files occupy can be many gigabytes. Of course, today’s computers have much more available space than in the past, but it never needs to be the storage space for years of web surfing! And, getting back to my friend’s laptop, temp files occupied a very large portion of his C Drive. He literally filled his entire hard drive! There was less than 5 megabytes of available space left, so he need these junk files cleared out in a hurry. Since he didn’t have any available space left, he really couldn’t surf the web because he got errors for “no available disk space”.
So, to do this well, I’ve been using two different cleaner programs in conjunction. The first is CCleaner by Piriform. You can go to CNet.com and you’ll see that this program has a very high rating both by them and by users of the program and you can download the program there or at the Piriform main website. Let me show you the features:
I’ve got the professional version, but you can download the free home version and it will still look and work pretty much like this. After you start the program, you’ll see the buttons on the left. The top button is the cleaner. Just click on “Run Cleaner” and it will go through various temp file locations and delete out the junk files that you don’t need. I’ll get to the other buttons and what they do a little bit later on, but for now, this is a great junk file cleaner program.
The other program that I use in conjunction with this program is called “Cleanup!” You’ll find it at www.stevengould.org and it looks like this:
This program is as basic as it seems. Run the cleaner, it finishes, and then you close the program. But, just to make you aware, when it closes, it’ll ask you if you want to log off.
I always answer “No” because I’m not finished yet and you shouldn’t be also.
The reason that I run both cleaner programs is that they each catch things that the other doesn’t. It’s just being as thorough as possible because you need to keep nothing from those temporary files.
Also, for you out there who might be worried (because I know you’re out there) about these cleaner programs cleaning out things that you don’t want to lose, like pictures from your picture folders or documents or items you downloaded and are still in your “Downloads” folder, you need not worry. Not for a second. These programs, and many others out there like these, are programmed to go to just the temporary folders, wherever they may be in your computer, and delete them out. They are programmed to not go to these other places, where you have items you want to keep, so have no fear.
The last cleaner program you should run is the following (click on “My Computer” from your Start button – Windows 7 or earlier):
Next, RIGHT-CLICK your mouse on the “Local Disk (C:)” and scroll to the bottom and click on “Properties” and it will open up this box:
Just to the right of the pie chart, you see the “Disk Cleanup” button. When you click it, it will scan for other temporary files, such as Microsoft update files. The normal cleaner programs will not take these out, but this Disk Cleaner will get those and some others. Once it finishes scanning, it will open a box with the list of everything it finds and will look like this:
Once this box appears, all areas listed that have any junk files should be checked, but to be sure, just make sure all boxes are checked and click “OK” and then you’ll see this:
Click on “Delete Files” and it will finish the cleanup and this section is complete.
The next area of concern is your computer’s registry and you need to clean them as well.
And, fortunately, there are many programs designed to do just that. When your computer is booting up or afterwards, items in your registry that are not attached to any existing programs can slow your computer. In fact, it could significantly reduce your computer’s speed. Going back to the CCleaner program, the second button from the top is a registry cleaner and looks like this:
As you can see, when you click on the “Registry” button, you’ll see at the bottom center the “Scan for Issues” button. Click it and it will go through your entire registry for any problems. And, if you’ve never run a registry cleaner program for your computer, there could be a lot of registry errors. I just ran it for mine and it came up with one, which is no significant issue. Once the scan finishes, it will list everything it finds. You really don’t need to be concerned with anything except to “Fix selected issues” and when you click it, it will look like this:
I always click “No” for this question. You don’t need to save things that are problems now. What would the purpose be? Once you do click “No”, this is what you’ll see:
Where you see the button that says “Fix Issue”, if you’ve never done this, it will be “Issues”. But, just click it and all of those problems are fixed. This registry cleaner will not catch every registry problem, so I use another, Auslogics BoostSpeed because it’ll catch things that this program won’t. When I use that program, it will look like this:
Click on “Scan Now” and this is what happens:
Now, this scan was done just now, as I’m creating this blog. And, as you can see, it found 2 registry errors that the CCleaner program didn’t. It’s just the same principle as running two cleaner programs – one will catch things the other doesn’t. But, I assure you, these are good programs, so no need to be concerned about this. Also, I do not know if you can get the Auslogics program for free, but there are many other registry cleaner programs that are free and you can find them on the CNet website and see the ratings and comments about them. This program, however, finds other junk files and broken shortcuts, which can also slow your computer down.
One other thing. As I mentioned as the first problem – programs running as you first boot up your computer – I’m going to go back to the CCleaner program.
Using the third button down from the top, “Tools”, you’ll see the “Uninstall” button in the next column to the right and then the “Startup” button. And, when you click on it, this will be the first list you see, the items that start when you boot up. Now, there will be a number of programs that are required when you boot up and you’ll see, under “Publisher”, the company names of each manufacturer. So, in my computer, you see Adobe Systems, AVAST, Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and more as you scroll down using the slide bar on the right side. But, in your computer, you will also see those programs that you do not want to start running at boot up and when you click on the first of those programs, you’ll see this:
To the right side, you’ll see the “Disable” and “Delete” buttons highlighted. As long as you are certain that the item pertains to a program that you know is not a “system” program, which is required for boot up”, but is one of your programs that you installed, then you would click “Disable”. Once you do that, it will not run at boot up.
*** Be 100% certain that it is an application program, something you installed, and not a system program that you disable. ***
This is one area where you do not want to be wrong about this. But, for every program that you are 100% certain is an application program, disable it from here and it will not start when you boot up and slow down your processor. Remember, this simple principle is, you never have other application programs running at boot up because it is not necessary and it will slow your computer significantly and it can shorten the life of your processor.
At this point, you’ve completed three of the four areas and now you’re ready for the last thing.
Once you have everything out of your computer that you don’t need, you need to do a “Disk Defrag”.
With Windows 7 or earlier, click on the “Start” button, then on your “Accessories” folder within the list of programs. Then find the “System Files” folder and you’ll see “Disk Defrag” listed and click it. It will open something that looks like this:
Make sure that the (C) drive is highlighted and then “Defragment disk” to start the process. When so many temporary files are stored in your computer, eventually you’ll end up with many files that are fragmented into little pieces as it’s stored in your C Drive and this can significantly slow your computer down. The reason is this:
When a file is fragmented and you need to access it, a pointer will show the address for the beginning of the file and your computer will begin reading it there. When it gets to the end of that piece of the file, there is a pointer that shows the address for the beginning of the next piece of the file. These pointers are bits of data also stored in your computer’s C Drive. So, if a file is broken up into two dozen pieces, it’ll have two dozen pointers and you don’t need anything taking up space in your C Drive. But, here’s the other thing. Since these pieces can be located in many different parts of the C Drive, your hard drive must take more time to spin to each area of the drive in order to get to the next piece.
It’s like this. You take a CD, hang it on the wall, and throw a dart at it twelve times. And wherever the dart hits is the location of the next part of the file. So, these pieces are randomly closer to center or closer to the outside edge. So, this affects your computer speed. Once you do the Disk Defrag, the file is all together in one piece and it’s a simple read from beginning to end. No jumping around to different areas of the disk to find pieces.
At this time, now, you have cleaned out all of the junk that you don’t need in your computer, you have cleaned out every bad item in your registry and you have defragmented your computer. You just saved $75 minimum for a computer shop to “repair” your computer (because that’s typically the cost for them to even look at it). And, your computer is now running as quickly as it did when you bought it.
There’s one last thing, which has nothing to do with your computer speed, but will still help keep your computer running only what you want to use and that is the “Uninstall” program.
I always use the CCleaner program, under the “Tools” section and it opens the “Uninstall” part of the program. You’ll see the entire list of applications programs, not system programs, that you can uninstall if you choose. Go through the list and if you see anything that you no longer need, “Run Uninstaller” and it will get it out of your computer. I’m mentioning this for two reasons – I do it and if you never use it, you don’t need it in your computer, taking up space.
Less is more!
Less things running at boot up, less unnecessary things taking up space in your C Drive, faster computer speed.
When you see an ad or a TV commercial for one of those companies that promise to speed up your computer, they’re trying to take advantage of people who don’t really know better. Maybe they own a laptop, but never really had much computer experience. But, they start thinking that something is wrong with their computer because they notice how slow their computer is now compared with when they bought it. And, they just really don’t know why.
Then they see one of those commercials or they take their laptop to a computer repair shop and they pay the money to have it “fixed” when it really wasn’t broken. These few steps will solve these issues. The difference could be significant.
And trust me on this. It may take some time when you do this the first time. But, make using the cleaner programs and registry cleaner daily just before you shut down your computer and do a Disk Defrag once a month and your computer will always run as fast as it did when you got it. You’ll be happy that you did this. And, really, make doing the cleanups a daily habit just before shut down. It’ll only take a couple minutes, max, and you’ll be glad that you did.