24 November, 2007

Speed up that slow PC

As most of us know, over time our PC just gets slower. This is due to temp files, old registry entries, a full hard drive, and a host of other "features" of a Microsoft OS. Fortunately, PC World just released an article on Cheap and Free Tools to Put Zip Back in Your PC. The PC World article covers four subject areas:
  1. Speed Freaks
  2. Optimize for Speed
  3. Internet Boosters
  4. Application Boosters
For Speed Freaks, the one fully free tool is Cleanup Assistant. Cleanup Assistant will scour your hard drive and remove unnecessary files for you, e.g. duplicates and caches.

In the Optimize for Speed category, there are four free tools mentioned. Three of them look to optimize your Registry: Eusing Free Registry Cleaner, CCleaner, and Auslogics Registry Defrag. In addition, CCleaner will also look at removing unnecessary files, similar to Cleanup Assistant. The final free tool in the Optimize for Speed category is Advanced Windows Care 2 Personal, which its primary utility is to clean up your startup applications.

This reminded me to run CCleaner, which I already had installed. It found over 200MB of unnecessary files to remove from my system. I also use my own startup utility, Startup Inspector, to disable many non-required startup applications (See my blog post from October 21, 2006: XP Memory Problems and Startup Applications). Note: CCleaner provides this functionality.
On to the third category, Internet Boosters. In this category, there are four free utilities: 1) MySpeed PC Lite Edition; 2) Bandwidth Monitor 2; 3) SG TCP Optimizer; and 4) uTorrent. the only one that really will do the work for you and help improve your Internet speeds is SC TCP Optimizer. Based on my experience, though tools such as this can make some performance adjustments, it is unlikely to notice the improvements yourself (if you ran a well controlled test, you might be able to conclusively see a difference as measured in the test).

uTorrent is a completely different tool; you wont see any overall Internet performance improvements, but rather it's a BitTorrent client that you could use for downloading files. Great for distributed bandwidth usage (and getting pirated software), BitTorrent is only as good as the files being shared by others.

The last category, Application Boosters, only has one free program (it only lists two programs in total): PDF SpeedUp. PDF SpeedUp claims it will adjust Acrobat settings so it will load faster. I personally use an alternate PDF reader, FoxIt. FoxIt loads extremely fast, and it doesn't cause Firefox to crash.

So if you're looking for a way to get back some of the speed on your PC, there are many tools that claim they can help. If you don't want to go through all the programs to find out which ones really work, I recommend you get and use CCleaner and run your Disk Defrag program that is already on you PC. Oh, and of course this recommendation assumes you have a PC clean of viruses and other malware (See: Is Your Windows XP Computer Internet Safe?).

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