Street Team: 5 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

This week, our featured Street Team member is Rich McIntosh.  Rich is a Junior BI major who has worked in Information Technology since he was a freshman. He is now serving in the TSC in the position of Brand Ambassador.  Keep an eye out for Rich at a campus event near you!


5 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

Pretty much everyone has had the experience where, seemingly for no reason, their computer begins to run slow. Sadly, the reality is that computers start to slow down for various reasons over time. This applies to both Mac and Windows computers, and it can put a huge damper on the computing experience. Fortunately, though, there are a few steps you can take to speed things up.


1) Defragment your hard drive (Windows Only)

A fragmented hard drive (essentially meaning that it’s disorganized to the computer) can be a big performance killer. Almost all Windows laptops and desktops will suffer from this issue at some point in the computer’s lifespan. If you have an Apple computer, this probably won’t be an issue for you. The way that OS X writes files to the hard drive largely eliminates the need for defragmentation. However, for the vast majority of users on campus, fragmentation will become an issue over time. Windows has a built in defragmentation utility that will suffice for most situations, and you’ll want to make sure you have at least 10-15% of free space on your hard drive before you run it.

You can find step-by-step instructions on defragmenting your hard drive on Microsoft’s website. Click on the version you have to be taken to the site:

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Windows 7

Windows 8


2) Clean off junk files from your hard drive (Windows & Mac)

This particular tip applies equally to both Mac and Windows computers. Third party software tends to install a significant amount of “bloatware” (unneeded and unwanted programs/files) and over time this can slow a computer down significantly. A good, free utility for cleaning off these junk files is called CCleaner and it can be downloaded at Instructions on using CCleaner: Make sure that you are downloading CCleaner from, the official website, or, another official location for the download.


3) Eliminate unnecessary startup programs (Windows & Mac)


If your computer is taking a long time to boot up, it’s almost always going to be as a result of the number of programs attempting to run when it boots. CCleaner has a utility built in that allows you to see what programs are running on startup and delete them. Almost no software has a need to be running as soon as you turn on your computer, besides antivirus or antispyware software. Otherwise, there’s very little benefit, and quite a few drawbacks.  Also, when you install many programs (for example, Spotify) you will be asked if you want this program to run at startup. Choosing NO is the best option.

4) Run regular virus/spyware scans (Windows & sometimes Mac)

This tip applies especially to Windows machines, although arguably will apply to Macs as they are becoming more and more widely used. You should be running virus scans weekly, at the very least, on your computer. All it takes is clicking the “Scan your computer” button and letting it run in the background for 45 minutes to an hour. Viruses and spyware can bog a computer down and render it more or less unusable, and that’s one of the less severe results of malware. If you need anti-virus software installed on your computer, you can stop by the Technology Service Center (TSC), where we do any software installs and hardware troubleshooting in SC129, any time during business hours and it will be installed free-of-charge.


5) Don’t save every single file to your desktop (Windows & Mac)


Does your desktop look something like this (or worse)?

This one may sound a little silly but it’s one of the most common things I’ve seen working on both Faculty and Student computers. If you’re saving every single file to your desktop, your computer is going to be noticeably slower. It has to render the icon and store meta information for every single file, and it’s very taxing on the computer when you start nearing hundreds or thousands of files. Even creating a folder on the desktop and saving everything in there would be an improvement, but ideally one should utilize the Downloads, Documents, Videos, Music and Pictures folders. Both Mac and Windows use pretty much the same setup as far as those five folders are concerned, and using them instead of the desktop will both help you be a lot more organized and possibly eliminate some performance issues.


As always, if you have any questions on these tips or need assistance following any of the instructions, we are more than happy to help at the TSC in SC129!