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Tech Savvy for May 7,2009

How to speed up your computer

by Dan Harper

    Often we buy a computer from the store and while it starts out fast, as it ages it slows down to a crawl.  Although part of this is just perception, there are several things to do to give the system a tune up.  The procedures covered in this article are directed at WindowsXP users.  While most also work on Windows 2000 and Vista, the functions have slightly different names or menus.

    First let′s remove any temporary internet files and other unnecessary files cluttering up the system.  Click on “Start”, go to “All Programs”, “Accessories”, “System”, and click on Disk Cleanup.  Select anything you don′t need, if in doubt, check everything and click “OK”.

    If you use Firefox you will need to clear the temporary files out.  In Firefox, click on “Tools” on the top menu, then click on “Options”. Click on the “Privacy” tab.  In the “Private Data” section, click on the “Settings” button.  Check everything EXCEPT “Cookies” and “Saved Passwords” and click “OK”.  Click on the “Clear Now” button and you are done.

    Now that we have removed unnecessary files, we can defragment the files that are left.  Click on “Start,” go to “All Programs,” “Accessories,” “System,” and click on “Disk Defragmenter.”  Click on the “Defragment” button and let it do its thing.  It′ll take a while but it′s well worth it.

    My favorite way to avoid this particular chore is to have the computer do it automatically with JK Defrag, a program you can download from  To install, you unzip the files to your Windows System directory, then select JkDefragScreenSaver as your screen saver.  Doing so will defragment your hard disk any time your computer sits idle for any time. If you click on settings, you can select the screen saver to be used when JKDefrag is done with its task.

    Now that we have the hard disk cleaned up, let′s make sure your computer still works for you.  Go to and follow the directions for a free virus and malware scan.  If you have trouble getting to this site, malware on your computer is probably blocking it.

    A good free virus scanner is available at

    Finally, make sure Windows update is turned on and functional.  Go to the computer′s control panel and on the left column click on “Windows Update.”  Again, if you have trouble getting to this site, malware on your computer is probably blocking it.  The site will also tell you if Automatic Updates are enabled and give you the ability to turn it on if you wish.  Click on “Express” and follow the directions.  Once complete your system will be up to date.

    Congratulations!  You just gave your computer a tune up, and it′s running about as well as it can without the help of a specially trained professional.

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