How frustratingly slow can your PC be?
Ever spent time staring at your PC screen while the little wheel went slowly round, before apparently grinding to a halt? Gone off to do something else in hope that the file you were trying to access would be open by the time you came back – and it wasn’t? Given up and restarted your PC to see if it would speed up next time?
Most things need to be maintained to get the best out of them; computers are no different. One of the reasons they become slow and sluggish is due to an under-optimised hard drive.
The hard drive is where the operating system, programs and data are stored on your computer. Over time it may become filled with old files from installs, cached web pages and temporary files. These are often superfluous but gradually affect the hard drive’s normal running and slow the PC’s performance.
Several things can be done to clean up the hard drive, all of which should improve its efficiency.
1) Clean the hard drive of cached files
This is basically a declutter – and a relatively easy process. It’s recommended you do this on a regular basis.
1. Open File Explorer and click on Computer (Windows 7) or This Computer (Windows 8)
2. In the Explorer window to the right highlight the drive you wish to clean
3. Right click on the drive and select Properties
4. From the General tab select the Disk Clean-up button, which will scan the drive. If you haven’t done this for a while it may take some time!
5. Once finished, choose the files and folders to remove from the hard drive by selecting the appropriate tick box then click OK for the clean-up process to begin.
2) Remove the hibernation option
Simply a snapshot of what’s in the memory at that moment, a hibernation file is great for laptops; allowing you to close the lid for a while, then immediately resume where you left off when you open the lid again.
However, desktop PCs don’t necessarily need hibernation; nor do solid-state drives (SSDs) (if you are using these to store data) as they are designed to enable speedier access to data.
Hibernation files can take up valuable space on your computer and may even stop it functioning properly.
Removing the hibernation option from your system will immediately free up space in the operating system.
a. Click on the Windows button and in the Run box at the bottom type ‘cmd’ and press enter.
b. In the window that opens type ‘powercfg -h off’ – this should turn off the hibernation option and immediately free up disk space.
c. To revert you can simply switch the ‘off’ to ‘on’ using the same command.
3) Clear the temporary internet files
Internet Explorer stores all the web pages in a cache to allow for quick loading of web pages. If you use the internet frequently the cached temporary files soon fill up space on your hard drive.
a. Open Internet Explorer and select the cog icon on the top right of the browser
b. Select Internet Options from the menu list
c. In the General tab select the Delete button in the Browsing history section near the bottom of the dialogue box.
d. Here you can select the options you wish to delete.
e. Untick all the boxes except the top box Preserve Favourites website data
f. Select the Temporary Internet files and website files
g. Click on Delete
h. This will now clear the temporary internet files, cleaning up your hard drive further.
4) Empty the Recycle Bin
Although you may have deleted several files, unless you press the Shift key at the same time the files will be stored in the Recycle Bin. This too takes up hard drive space.
a. Right click on the Desktop Recycle Bin icon
b. Choose Empty Recycle Bin
c. Select Yes option on the dialogue box.
d. This will remove all files in the recycle bin. They’re not retrievable so proceed with caution!
5) Run a Disk check
As well as physical storage issues, system files may become damaged over time, or the hard drive may not function as well as before. Running a disk check on the drives may help improve PC speeds.
As the process may take some time it’s a good idea to carry out a disk check at a time when you don’t need to use your PC for a while.
a. Open File Explorer
b. Right click on the drive you wish to check
c. In the Tools tab select the Check now button
d. On Windows 7 make sure both the check boxes are ticked
e. Click the Start/Scan Drive button
f. You will then be shown a dialogue box saying that the check cannot take place while the disk is in use.
g. Select the Schedule disk check
h. Save any work and reboot your computer.
i. The computer will then reboot and check the disk. .
j. Once complete your computer should load the login screen as normal.
6) Defragment the hard drive
Although we see all our folders neatly in one place, files and programs may be placed randomly on the hard drive. When we access a file the computer requests information from the hard drive – and if the information required to open the file isn’t all in the same place it takes time for it all to be assembled to present it back in a readable format. A bit like if you dropped a file of notes on the floor!
Defragmentation or defragging is a way of reorganising the physical location of files and programs. By putting the related information together it reduces the “seek time”, helping to improve the overall speed of the computer.
Solid-state hard drives (SSDs) don’t benefit from defragging, but your standard hard drive will.
a. Click on the Windows button bottom left
b. Select All Programs
c. Select Accessories folder
d. Then select the System Tools folder
e. Click on the Disk Defragment icon
f. You can set the hard drive to automatically defrag, preferably at a time when the computer is on but not in use. Ideally schedule to defrag once a week.
g. If you wish to defrag the hard drive immediately then select the drive then the Defragment Disk button.
a. On the Charms menu search for Defrag
b. Select Defragment and optimise your drives
c. Follow steps f and g above.
All or any of the procedures detailed can help improve your computers’ performance, and hopefully avoid the frustrations of slow PCs for you and your staff!
What can Direct Voice and Data do to help?
IT Support Contracts from Direct Voice and Data will ensure a proactive approach to ensuring your PC’s, servers and other hardware are kept up to date. We offer a variety of IT Services and Support packages to suit your business.
Please contact a member of our Direct Voice and Data – Sales Team for more information on how we can help keep your IT secure – 0800 84 999 84