I’m sure there are a lot of you out there wondering why your computer was so fast when you bought it, yet it runs so slow now. There are several causes for this and while not all of them will apply to you, checking for them will not take a lot of time and may gain a lot of your original performance back.
First, let’s discuss a little bit about the weaknesses inherent in the Windows OS, and why it slows down over time.
It seems like every version of Windows starting with Windows 95 slows down more and more the longer you’ve had it on your computer. Microsoft has changed a lot of the internals of Windows since then, and yet it still slows down. This should point us in one very good direction: something that has remained the same causes the slowdown. If that were the entire truth however, the problem would be easily solved and quickly corrected. Each version of Windows technology has had it’s own weaknesses in addition. In this article I am going to discuss the weaknesses in the Windows NT Platform, which would be Windows NT, 2000, XP, Vista and 7.
Culprit 1: The Windows Registry (all versions of Windows)
Feared by all but the most geeky of Windows users, the registry is basically a database that holds all the settings for Windows and just about any software you install on your computer. The problem is that as the registry gets larger, it takes longer to find the information that is needed and thus software can take longer to load. Upgrades and uninstalling software can also leave information behind, like an orphan left on your doorstep wrapped in a blanket. These orphaned settings can cause Windows to have to look several times for a setting that is still valid on your system.
If you are a regular on my blog, you will remember that I discussed a free tool that you can download to clean temporary files off of your computer, called CCleaner. If you haven’t installedCCleaner yet, I’d recommend it as you’ll find I refer to it a lot for solving problems.
There is a utility build into CCleaner that will clean these old and incorrect settings out of your registry, thus reducing it’s size and improving system performance. To use this utility:
Culprit 2: Excessive Hard Disk Usage (NT Platforms)
The Windows NT Platform uses a file system called NTFS to keep track of where your files are located on the hard drive. While this system is much more resistant to errors than previous methods, it does seem to suffer a performance degradation as you add more and more files to your computer. The size of these files does not seem to matter as much as the number of them do. 100,000 small files would cause a larger performance hit than 10,000 large files. Certain types of computer activities seem to add large numbers of small files to your hard drive more than others. Video games are a large contributor of small files, and large productivity suites such as Adobe Creative Suite can also contribute.
There are certain steps you can take to reduce the number of files on your hard disk, and improve system performance: