One stop shop for speeding up your Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 PC

I’ve been a Windows user for quite some time now, It’s been 6 years since I started using Windows, from my 7th grade! I started with Windows XP, which at that time dominated the PC market with a staggering 50%+ market share and then in my 10th grade, after spending close to 3 years with this magnanimous version of Windows, I finally jumped the Microsoft upgrade path and went straight to Windows 7, skipping the crappy Vista.

Then, after spending a year and a half with the “Vista Fix” Windows 7, I jumped onto Windows 8, the “reimagined” Windows, according to Microsoft. Honestly, didn’t like it at first, but I somehow got used to it, then finally came the rescue and relief, in the name of Windows 8.1, which was a bit more polished then Windows 8, especially for users with the old school mouse and a keyboard.

Now, over all these years, I’ve tested tons of softwares, hacks, tricks, AVs etc on my well f*cked computer. So, I want to make sure that I gather all of this stuff and insight, that I gained over all these years, is put to good use, so, I’ll use this piece of article as my dumping zone for all things speeding up Windows!

Now, let’s get started, first off, destroy all those unwanted startup programs:

  • Disable Unwanted startup programs:

Hit up: Win+R> type in “msconfig” (without quotes)> go to the startup tab (For Windows 8 and 8.1, the link will direct you to the option in Task Manager!)

You’ll see a window like this:

You can disable unwanted programs for in here!

Just make sure you don’t disable the startup of your Anti Virus or any other essential program. You can always Google the program’s name to find out its importance and what it does to your PC!

  • Uninstall bloatware and crapware:

Whenever you buy a new Laptop or Desktop, the manufacturers tend to pre load softwares that you probably will never use in your entire lifetime, for their promotion. This is not the case with just newer PC’s, many people also unknowingly install bloat by carelessly clicking the “Next” button while installing the software they want to. For newer PC’s, the best option is to perform a clean install as soon as you purchase so that your data is not lost or corrupted.

But, for older PC’s, you have to manually go into programs and features (Vista and up!) or Add or remove programs (Windows XP) and uninstall unwanted bloatware and crapware, one by one.

Programs and Features Interface, Windows 8.1
Programs and Features Interface, Windows 8.1

But, there are much more easier solutions available. I highly recommend “PC Decrapifier“. As the name suggests, this wonder tool is essential for all the new PC owners. It automatically scans your PC for bloatware and crapware (using it’s crowdsourced database of ratings) and gives you the option to uninstall them with a single click and it’s free.

PCDecrapifier Interface
PCDecrapifier Interface

Another robust and reliable option is the always reliable Ccleaner from the dudes at Piriform. Damn, I can’t imaging my PC without this nimble little piece of software. You can use its uninstall manager to uninstall programs.

Ccleaner Interface, Windows 8.1
Ccleaner Interface, Windows 8.1

You can also use free, custom built tools for Uninstalling, such as IObit Uninstaller and Revo Uninstaller.

  • Defragment your Hard Drive:

Okay, you must have heard of this, “de fragmentation”. Without sounding too technical, what defragmentation essentially does is that it rearranges all of your files, lying on your hard drive in order. When you buy a fresh new PC, all of the files on its hard drive are in order. Overtime, they tend to scatter across different sectors of the hard drive, this increases the search time for files and also puts unnecessary strain on the hard drive.

There is a tool for defragmentation, baked right into the Windows OS. You can access this by right clicking the drive> Tools> Optimize drive:

Defragmentation Interface, Windows 8.1
Defragmentation Interface, Windows 8.1

But, as with every other “default” stuff out there, the options to customize are ver limited. For that very reason, there are a number of different third party alternatives available, such as:

This hack should essentially make your computer’s boot time as well as overall performance faster.

  • Clear Cache and unwanted files:

Cache is basically a store of your files which you regularly access. Windows OS caches your most accessed files so that they can be easily access later on, without the OS breaking any sweat. But, over time, when you delete lots of files, the cache store that the OS creates for each individual file still remains there on the disk.

You can perform a simple check to find out the amount of cache your computer currently has by going into Run command (Win+R) and punching in “%temp%” (without the quotes of course!). This will take you to temp folder, where Windows stores most of  the cache.

Now, you can either delete them individually (If you have all the time in the universe) or you can use a super awesome and previously mentioned tool called CCleaner. This automatically scans your PC for cache dumps and clears them with a single click, without you having to do anything.

Ccleaner cleaning Interface, Windows 8.1
Ccleaner cleaning Interface, Windows 8.1

There are tons and tons of tools available out there, there are as many tools as the number of stars in the universe (Okay, I’m exaggerating) but you get the point right, you’ll never run out of choice.

Some of the popular options, apart from CCleaner includes:

I don’t even have to say this, Viruses are real dangerous, be it Trojan Horse, FLAME or any other sh*t! So, It’s super damn important that you get a good anti virus.

Windows 8 and 8.1 have buit in protection in the name of “Windows Defender”, for Vista and 7, there is Microsoft Security Essential (Which basically is Windows Defender, except the name) and since the support for XP ended way back in April, 2014, you have to rely on third party vendors.

Also, it’s always best to choose a complete security package, with firewall baked right into the software, because Windows firewall is not really secure and has lots of vulnerabilities and Microsoft is also not the world’s fastest bug fixer

There are a plethora of options available, when it comes to third party anti viruses. Some of the most popular options include:

ESET Smart Security 7 Interface
ESET Smart Security 7 Interface
  • Go solid state:

Solid State Drives (SSD’s) are known for their reliability, security and mind boggling speed. Though they are much more expensive then conventional hard drives, they still are worth every penny.

Also, unlike conventional hard drives, SSD’s don’t suffer from fragmentation problems, since there are no moving parts in there, in fact, forcefully de fragmenting an SSD can sabotage the disk and render it inoperable, so it’s always safe to disable de fragmentation for an SSD.

Also, if you want to save some bucks (C’mon, who doesn’t) you can use SSD and hard drive combo instead of going all SSD. You can install your OS on your SSD and you can store all of your media files on your hard drive.

SSD vs Conventional hard drive comparison
SSD vs Conventional hard drive comparison
  • Disable unnecessary Gadgets (Applicable only for Windows 7) :

When Microsoft launched Windows 7 in 2009, it included a new feature called “Gadgets”, whose support was dropped from Windows 8 onwards because of a “serious” vulnerability in Windows sidebar platform.

These gadgets can be disabled without impacting the functioning of the OS (Some of you will be like, “Duh, As if I didn’t know” :p)

Windows 7 Gadgets platform
Windows 7 Gadgets platform

So, there you go, these are some of the tricks you can use to speed up your Windows XP/Vista/8/8/8.1 PC. And, this article is incomplete and it will be updated regularly as soon I fuse together all the ideas up in my head.

And, an announcement, very soon, I’ll  be launching a full time, 24×7 blog for all things tech, once this blog achieves the target number of followers!

Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment and yeah, follow my blog, this will boost my confidence! :)

Abhishek Balaji



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