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I DEFRAGGED AND RAN A DISK CLEANUP, BUT MY COMPUTER IS STILL SLOW, DO I NEED NEWER SOFTWARE?

This article was completely rewritten May 2014, mostly due to my discovery of SSDs.

 

There are a lot of myths about how to make a computer faster. It's easy to fall for the "make your computer fly if you just give us $20" software sold in Wal-mart and even on TV. Don't fall for it!

To understand how to make your computer faster, first you need to understand what makes it slow. There are many things that affect the speed of a computer, but there is only 1 big huge fat obvious bottleneck – the speed of your hard drive. If you could see a pie chart of how many seconds you have to wait on each piece of hardware inside the average computer, the hard drive would consume at least 90%. This is why most upgrades are futile.

There are 2 ways you can work around this. I wrote articles about both.

  1. Get a faster hard drive.
    (Please read my article about SSDs)
    If you want a really fast computer, you need to have an SSD. I can usually upgrade a computer to a SSD for $125 parts/tax/labor. This will give you more speed per dollar than anything else you can buy. SSDs have spoiled me - I don't even like using a computer without a SSD now. A new computer will boot windows 7 in about 10 seconds with a SSD. Most new computers do not come with SSDs, but I expect that to change in the next few years.

  2. Don’t ask your hard drive to do so much.
    (Please read my article about RAM)
    This can be done by reducing the number of programs your computer runs every time you turn it on.  This not only has the obvious effect of giving the computer less to juggle, but it frees up precious RAM which can be used for disk caching.

Things that will NOT improve your computers speed:

1. Defragging
This helped a little bit on hard drives made in the 80's and 90's but defragging has no noticeable effect on a modern hard drive. If you dont believe me, time how long it takes to boot windows with a stopwatch before and after defragging. You won't see more than 1 second difference. Sometimes defragging has a placebo effect where people think their computer is faster because they were told defragging would make it faster and they psyche themselves out and swear its faster when they didn't even measure it with a clock. It seems like washing my car makes the engine run better too, same effect.

2. AntiVirus / AntiMalware programs
These will slow your computer down noticeably. Older computers will run at less than half speed when using antivirus. If that's not enough motivation to fire your antivirus vender, read this article.

3. Disk Cleanup
Another common myth is that freeing up space on your hard drive will speed you up. This is not true either. Hard drive space has no effect on speed. Matter of fact, you can fill your hard drive completely up, and it wont slow down a bit. Don't confuse hard drive usage with memory usage. "Memory" is RAM, which does have a big effect on speed.