10 Ways to Improve Performance on a Windows PC

A common question I receive via email (I get A LOT of emails so please be patient; I DO answer every email I receive) is, “How can I speed up my computer?”  I also get the question regularly from my younger nephews and nieces: “MrGROOVE, MrGROOVE! Make my video games go faster!!” Okay, I made up the “MrGroove” part, but regardless of what you’re doing on a computer, it is always nicer to have it done a little more quickly.

My good friend grooveDexter recently contributed a new How-To Article: Increase Windows Explorer Shell Stability and Speed for XP users. So, I’ve decided to use my free evening to jot down a groovy list for readers so they can quickly improve overall PC performance for Vista and XP.

I’ll call it the “MrGroove Quick 10 Performance Tips.”  Hmm.. not so exciting.  Regardless, here you go!

1)   Disable Files Indexing

File Indexing is a service that improves the speed of Windows searches. If you use it, it’s great!  If you don’t, it’s a waste of resources.

To turn off file indexing:

  1. Double Click the My Computer icon
  2. Right-click your drives and Click Properties
  3. Uncheck Allow Indexing Service to index this disk for fast file searching
  4. Click OK and apply it to all subfolders and files if it gives you the option
  5. Repeat for each drive

2)   Scan and Clean Your Computer Registry

Windows Registry can get messy when you install new programs and update your applications, especially when uninstalling unwanted programs.  An excellent way to improve the speed of your PC is to perform maintenance from time to time on your computer registry with a registry cleaner.  I’d recommend CCleaner.  You can see my review of the product here: Securely Wipe / Delete Files and Cache History Using CCleaner

3)   Disable Performance Counters

Windows XP has a performance utility that monitors all of the loaded .dlls on your computer.  These performance counters can be useful, but a home user doesn’t need them. These utilities are meant more for corporate network environments, and so their use of your home PC memory is just going to waste. You can Disable these pretty quickly.  Just Download and Install the Extensible Performance Counter List.  Then, Check each Setting in the Extensible Performance Counters window and Uncheck the Performance Counters Enabled checkbox near the bottom.

4)   Don’t Use A Desktop Picture

It might be really cool having your favorite scenery, car, or super-model on your desktop. But did you know that this uses up system resources, thus slowing down your PC performance?  If you opt to remove the image and just use a plain color background it can help increase your computer speed.

All you have to do is Right-Click any blank area on your Desktop and select Properties.  Then Go to the Desktop tab and under Background, Click None, and then Click OK to finish.

5)   Regularly Defragment your Hard Drives  

Regularly defragmenting your system’s Hard Drives is probably one of the easiest ways to improve system performance.  Many people seem to think that if you fill up your computer with BEEFY Processors and Gigabytes of memory, your computer will be screaming fast.  What they fail to realize is a slow-performing Hard Drive (Poor Disk IO) plays a VERY significant role in the Performance of a Computer.  A messy Hard Drive (Defragmented) can bring a system to its knees quickly. (Umm?  yeah, fast woot!)

One thing to remember is that in order to Defrag your drive efficiently, you should try to keep 15% of your drive free when you initiate the clean-up.  Although the 15% rule isn’t a requirement, when the system begins moving files around to optimize the drive the more space available, the better (and faster.)

Although this is a manual process for older Operating Systems (Windows XP, 98, etc.), Windows Vista and Server 2008 allow you to Schedule Defrag to keep your drive IO optimized.

6)   Get Rid Of Unnecessary Display Settings

Windows has a lot of built-in visual effects that really don’t do anything, and you probably won’t really even notice that they are gone.  By removing some of these unnecessary visual options, you can help fix your slow computer or just improve performance.

To disable all the effects,

  1. Click Start and Right Click My Computer, Click Properties
  2. Double-click System to enter it
  3. Click the Advanced tab
  4. Under the Performance Section, Click the Settings button
  5. Click Adjust for Best Performance and then Click OK

7)   Use Vista’s ReadyBoost 

If you are using Windows Vista, there is a really neat built-in service called ReadyBoost, which helps augment your system memory on your PC.  By doing this, Vista’s ReadyBoost can help overall system performance, including improving performance for Applications, Games, Internet Browsing, etc.  To use it plug in a USB flash device and check “setup to be used for ReadyBoost”.  For a Step-By-Step, take a look at this groovy write-up: Increase Windows Vista Performance Using ReadyBoost

8)   Simplify Windows Explorer Browsing & Improve Stability

And of course, a plug for groovyDexter’s latest post – Improve your folder browsing so that a single Explorer window does not take the rest of your system down by launching each window in a separate folder & disabling network prefetch (kinda).

  1. Click Start menu and Click My Computer
  2. Click the Tools tab from the File Menu at the top of the window
  3. Click Folder Options and click the View tab
  4. Check and Un-Check two separate boxes – First, Uncheck the box that says Automatically search for network folders and printers.  Then scroll down and Check the box that says Launch folder windows in a separate process.

9)   Scan for Spyware and Viruses

Spyware and Viruses and viruses are becoming more and more common as the internet continues to expand.  If your security features aren’t 100% up to date, you can acquire a virus or spyware simply by browsing the internet.  Once your computer is infected, it will really hurt its performance, among other problems, including information vulnerabilities and complete system failure. The best way to go about protecting yourself is to make sure you always have all of the latest Windows Updates installed.  Another way to keep yourself safe is to get an Anti-Virus program.  I did a write-up a while back.


Sorry… :)  but that one is for my close friends who are still using the same computer they bought brand new with Windows 95 on it.  Yes yes, yes… I helped you out and installed Windows XP on it, and yes, IT’S TIME TO BUY A NEW COMPUTER.  After all, you can probably get one from DELL or HP for under $500 bones!  So do all your computer geek friends and family a favor (yeah, the ones you call every time your computer dies and need them to jump-start it back to life) and BUY A NEW PC.  :) :)



  1. lazertag

    March 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    sweet writeup however I think your #10 tip should be your #1 tip. toooo many people out there try to skimp on just getting a new computer and try to get them to last for 10 years when computers should be swapped out every 3 years AT LEAST!!!

  2. Moxshax

    March 14, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Been using Winutilities it for couple of days on my client PCs at work. Help me to keep the PCs life little longer and reduce complaints from the customers. It does what it supposed to do. :)

  3. goedkoop lasershooten

    October 19, 2011 at 10:10 am

    naturally like your web-site but you have to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very bothersome to tell the reality then again I will surely come again again.

  4. Reys

    November 30, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    if you are serious want improve your computer performance without spending any dime, you should learn how to overclock your computer and to do this, a really good skill is need. more info at

  5. Diana

    April 23, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this detailed article about how to speed up a computer. I love that I can find so many tips, tutorials regarding this subject and I can take care of it without any kind of problems. Also, a friend from IT consultancy Toronto gave me some as well… I won’t have problems for sure!

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