Apart from defragmenting


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TrainableMan

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With the NTFS file structure used on today's disks, defragging does very little and isn't needed more than twice a year.

Your best bet to speed things up is to limit as much software from running at startup as possible. So much software builds in automatic updating because most people don't take the responsibility to do it themselves; this often means, especially for laptop users, that many processes and downloads are running in the background right when they want their computer to be devoted to them instead. If you disable the Java auto updates and remove the Adobe ARM service, and set up your anti-virus to download on a schedule when you aren't using it (this may mean leaving your laptop on a night or two each week). And personally I also set Windows Updates to just notify but not download or install, this way I can say OK do it just before I head off to bed for the night.

Run CCleaner once a month to keep temp files cleaned out, etc.

Install Spybot Search & Destroy and immunize your browsers to protect against some ads etc that slow down your browsing.

And then in your browser to make things faster there, set it to empty the cache on exit and don't install toolbars that come with every piece of software you get (even ccleaner), there is a choice to uncheck those boxes and NOT install, make that choice. For ones already installed use control panel > programs and features to uninstall them (even if they aren't set to load they cause minimal overhead on your machine, get rid of them).

...

CCleaner and Spybot Search and Destroy can both be found via links in our Freeware DB. I not only recommend them, I use them myself on my computer but you still need to be careful to not select the superfluous extras when you install.
 
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Digerati

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With the NTFS file structure used on today's disks, defragging does very little and isn't needed more than twice a year.
If that. Frequent defragging is only needed if you are critically low on free disk space. Lots of free disk space is essential for Windows to use a temporary storage, and to allow the Page File elbow room to operate in. And then defragging is only a temporary solution and the real solution is to free up space by uninstalling programs you no longer use, and/or by buying more disk space.

FTR - defragging typically does not make a noticeable improvement in performance. This is because most of the "work" is done in RAM, not on the disk. An extremely fragmented AND CROWDED (that is, very little free disk space) boot drive (and/or the drive hosting the Page File) will certainly impact performance, especially on computers with a small amount of RAM. But those are extreme examples and not the norm - and indicate a need for more disk space.

And also FTR, I don't like and recommend against using any defragging program that runs automatically in real-time in the background, or on a schedule. This is because it is counterproductive to defrag with potentially 1000s of tiny temporary files cluttering up the drive. So I always recommend cleaning out the clutter before defragging using Windows own Disk Cleanup, or the aforementioned CCleaner.
 
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In addition to the recommendations given above, if you're able, install at least 4GB of the fastest RAM your computer can support. Adding or replacing memory in systems with 2GB or less or with slow memory will provide a noticeable increase in performance.
 
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Digerati

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I agree 99.9% with that! While faster RAM is certainly desirable, having a sufficient amount of RAM is much more important than having the fastest RAM.

With a limited amount of RAM, the OS and CPU are forced to bang on the Page File much more frequently and the PF is located on the very slow (compared to even the slowest RAM) hard drive.

4Gb is the minimum amount of RAM I recommend (with dual-channel memory architecture motherboards (3Gb with triple channel) to adequately support today's operating systems AND the necessary security programs we MUST (thanks to the badguys) run. And for the "sweetspot" - where less impacts performance, but more yields very little, if any noticeable performance gains for your money) you want 8Gb with dual channel, and 6Gb with triple. Just note you must have a 64-bit operating system to properly utilize more than 4Gb.
 

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