Watch those programs
It is sometimes easy to forget how many programs you have open. If you find that your PC is becoming sluggish, check the Windows Task Bar to see which programs are running. To speed things up, simply right click those programs you are not using and click close.
Restart more quickly
When restarting your PC hold down the shift key at the same time. This will launch Windows much more quickly.
Use lower resolution
This is easy and simple to do. Right click on the desktop and select properties. Then click settings in the properties window and move the pointer in screen area to the left to lower the screen resolution. It is easy to change the resolution back afterwards.
Turn off active desktop
In theory having a favourite Web site sit directly on your desktop is cool. In reality it is a huge hog on your PC's resources, so turn it off and feel the difference. You can always make that Web site your home page anyway.
Don't stretch wallpaper
Stretching wallpaper to fit the desktop can slow down your PC, especially when you move icons around. And if your PC has limited memory it is better to choose fairly simple wallpaper - for example, black and white photos rather than colour.
Lose some fonts
Windows loads every font you have in the fonts folder when it starts up. The more you have, the longer it takes. So take a look in your fonts folder and keep only those you really like and use. However, be careful not to remove fonts that have a red letter icon as these are System fonts.
Use Disk Clean Up
Windows has a built-in tool called Disk Clean Up, which is a little like your own personal Windows housekeeper. To find it go to start menu, programs, accessories and then Disk Clean Up. It will then ask you which drive you wish to clean up - usually the C drive. Once open it will analyse your hard disc and tell you how much space can be saved on the disc by safely deleting old files. The less cluttered your hard disc, the faster the PC will run.
Back up your data
Another simple way to lose clutter and speed things up is to transfer old data and files to an external storage device such as a zip drive or even good old-fashioned floppies. This also has the advantage of safeguarding your data if your PC breaks down.
Defragment your disc
As you use your PC, loading programs and creating files, over time files become fragmented and it takes longer for the PC to find all the segments of the files the next time.
To put everything back in orderly fashion, locate the Windows Disk Defragmenter Tool from the program/ accessories tab on the start menu. Open the Disk Defragmenter and let it automatically put all the files and programs back in proper order. Afterwards, you should notice a significant increase in the speed of your PC.
Clean up regularly
It is tempting to use your desktop as a general dumping ground for downloads, often used files and programs. However having too much on your desktop not only makes it hard to find but can slow things down.
Instead, spend a few minutes each week tidying up and deleting files that you are not using. Put those files you need into a special folder on your hard drive and leave only a minimum. You will also be able to see that nice wallpaper you downloaded more clearly.
This was first published in May 2002