Photo credit goes to apesara

Note: This post is part of a series, so expect more posts about this topic.

How would be a world where computers don’t slow after time? No cleaning up or reinstalling a fresh Windows for having this charming speed you have after a fresh installation. But it isn’t as impossible as it seems, with a few tricks you can actually evoke some good results. But now let’s go to work.

Why Does My Computer Slow Down?

Think of your computer as a desk. Your hard drive are the drawers, your main memory is the desktop and your CPU are the workers working at this desk serving you your computer experience. Now after some time dealing with your desk your drawers get more filled. This is because you don’t file the files and programs properly and so they get messy and unorganized. In computer speak this is also called fragmentation.

You also don’t clean your desktop and so more and more things begin to clutter up there. The result is that the things you don’t need take away space from your desktop and detain you from working properly on your desktop. Speaking of your computer there are too many processes (things) using your RAM (desktop) thus the applications important for don’t get enough space to work properly.

All in all the workers (your CPU) keep on working but they get a hard time with the messy drawers and the cluttered desktop. The result is that they can’t work at their fastest pace so they get inefficient.

So What Can I Do Against It?

To become more faster you could simply upgrade your materials, buying a bigger hard drive (more drawers) or faster and bigger RAM (a bigger desk to work on) or engaging more productive workers (a new CPU). But we don’t want to spend more money on this, instead we eliminate the mess and the clutter that causes the slowing down of the computer.

Eliminate the desk clutter (tune your startup)

Now we want to eliminate all the unnecessary startup programs, but cleaning the Startup folder won’t do all the job. We want to see all the startup programs. To do that press Win key + R, enter “msconfig” and press enter.

Run... "msconfig" screenshot

Now you see the configuration service. Click on the tab Startup and you get a list of the actual startup programs.

Configuration service

So what we do really need? In fact it would be smart now, to enlarge the rows describing each Startup Item to see what it actually is.

System Configuration Screenshot

Now we want to to know which of this startup items are actually important or unnecessary. In general we can say that important entries are the Anti-Virus programs, firewalls or drivers, so look for the keywords NVidia, ATI, antivirus, firewall, security before disabling them.

But let’s see now each item in detail.

  • Adobe Acrobat
    In fact this is a preloader to speed up the startup time of Adobe Reader. You can safely disable this, but may let it activated if you use often Adobe Reader. Or consider switching to another PDF Reader.
  • avast! Antivirus
    Now this is something important and here we don’t want to disable security. Keep it on.
  • Google Update
    If you installed Google Chrome or other Google app this comes along with it. You can safely disable it, but may have to check new updates manually.
  • GrooveMonitor Utility
    This is a part of Microsoft Groove, which is a part of Microsoft Office. If you don’t use it, disable it.
  • iTunes
    This is also a  background application called iTunesHelper, you can safely disable it.
  • Java(TM) Platform SE 6 U16
    This is also a background app, which is used for enhanced startup time of Java. Can be safely disabled.
  • Microsoft® Windows® Operating System
    You may think now that this is the most essential and important to keep activated, but it is not! In fact this is only the sidebar/gadgets platform and therefore not the most important. So if you don’t use Gadgets or the Sidebar you can disable this too.
  • QuickTime
    Again, this is a background application to enhance QuickTimes startup time and provide additional functionality. You know it already, you can safely deactivate it.
  • Skype
    Your favourite VoIP-client. Starts up automatically so you don’t forget it. Decide whether you want a faster boot time or use it too often so it is more comfortable to leave it activated.
  • Windows Live Messenger
    Apply the same procedure as for Skype.

Now after doing some decisions, we look at our Startup Items.

System Configuration Start Up

Looks much cleaner now, heh?

General Rules
  • Leave it activated:
    • Security programs (anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware etc.)
    • Critical drivers (Graphic drivers, other driver applications you need)
  • Depends on your usage
    • Messenger apps (if you use them regularly)
    • Application pre-loaders (like the Adobe Reader fast start and so on)
      If you use some applications very frequently it may be worth to leave it on autostart. It may slow down your startup time in general but will reduce it otherwise when you start the app.
  • Can be safely deactivitated
    • Background applications, Agents (e.g. Winamp Agent, iTunesHelper, QuickTimeTask etc.)
    • Crap ware, toolbars or applications you don’t need (e.g. Smiley applications and similar)

When we are done, hit Apply and OK and the app will ask you if you want to restart now or restart later.

Restart/Exit without restart

For now you can simply hit Exit without restart and restart later.

Stay Tuned For The Next Part

Now we’ve done some work, didn’t we? Time for relaxing, get yourself a drink or play a game.

In the next part I’ll show you how to clean up those messy drawers by cleaning up your files and deleting the junk. But make sure to subscribe to the RSS Feed, so you don’t miss any update!

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If you have any questions, found an error or got a better way, feel free to say it in the comments.