Sunday, 2 October 2011


You purchased a new computer, brought it home, turned it on and gasped “Oh! this thing is really fast.” You start installing softwares, surfing the net, downloading games, movies, etc. But, gradually you realise that your computer, with age (maybe after 1.5-2 years), starts running so slow, you can’t do anything with it anymore.
Does this sound similar to you? Almost everyone of you will face such problem, if you are not performing certain, CPU performance enhancing measures.
Let me discuss, why this happened and what can be the possible ways to regain the youth of your computer :)

What is computer performance???
"Computer performance is characterised by the amount of useful work accomplished by a computer system compared to the time and resources used." (Wikipedia)
In layman's language, computer performance means how fast a computer can complete a task or set of instructions given to it by the user.
It may depend on the following factors :
1. Processors speed or clock speed.
2. Bandwidth.
3. System RAM size.
4. Hard disk speed and size.
5. Bandwidth.
6. Cache Memory.
7. Front side bus.
8. Heat and heat dissipation, and some more.

Do you want to observe how much are the programs you are running, making your computer sweat? Go to Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Performance Monitor. This will show you in real time the load in the PC’s CPU.

You can also go to the Task Manager and check your system performance :
Press Ctrl+Alt+Del -> Start Task Manager -> Performance tab.

In Ubuntu(10.10), to check the system usage and performance go to :
System (in panel) -> Administration -> System Monitor -> Resources tab.

There is a utility called “AppTimer” which can produce the time taken by an application to start-up. (It was the only utility which we could find on the Internet).
For Windows you can download it from here. I found a link to download it for Ubuntu, but I was not able to run it as it showed some error. The link is this. If anyone is able to run the software, then please put the respective procedure in the comments.
We tried to find out how fast does an application gets started in our laptop, which is around 20 months old. For mapping the results we used the utility mentioned above i.e. AppTimer.

We ran Adobe AcrobatReader for 15 times and the average time taken by the application, to run was 0.4681 seconds.

We also checked the load on the CPU using the Performance graph in the Task Manager, while running the following programs in it :
  1. A movie in VLC Media Player at 32x speed.
  2. Counter- Strike Game.

I have now discussed what Computer Performance is, and I hope you too have understood it. I have also shared the original condition of my laptop before any changes and improvements made in it to improve its speed.
Now, lets throw some light on the methods to improve the performance of your computer once it starts ageing :

1). Remove spyware and keep a check on viruses :

Get a new and latest antivirus installed in your computer and scan for viruses regurlarly, as they pose a major threat to your computer and also bring down the processing speed. Also install an anti-spyware software like SpyBot, (its download link is this ), to keep a check on the malicious spywares and other programs that drain your CPU performance.

2). Power Options :

The power options of your computer may be changed according to the need. A high end power option may lead to a lower performance.
Go to Start Menu -> Control Panel -> Power Options. Now select the option best suited for you.

3). Disk Cleanup :

It cleans all the old, unwanted and waste files and programs present in the computer, hence cleaning the disk.
My Computer -> Right click on C: drive -> Properties -> Disk Cleanup.

4). Ease your startup :

Several programs start running automatically when you start up your computer which may not be of use always. These applications make your boot-up slow and irritating.
Go to Start Menu -> Run -> Type msconfig and disable unnecessary programs from starting up.

5). Get Rid Of Unnecessary Applications :

Use the Task Manager to kill any unused or unwanted program/s in the background or those in front of you.
Enter the task manager :
For the Windows : Ctrl+Alt+Del → Start task Manager.
For the Mac : Cmd+Option+Esc.
For Ubuntu : Terminal -> use "top" command (it lists all the processes currently running). You must find the “pid” number of the unnecessary process, and kill them by using the "kill" command.
For example : Open Terminal -> “top” -> find PID number -> 'q' (to quit the top command) -> kill
System (in the panel) → Administration → System Monitor → Process tab.

6). Enable Multicore Support :

To find out if your computer supports multiple cores and processors in a PC, you can right click on My Computer -> Properties, and it will tell you your CPU type.
In Ubuntu you can check about your processor from :
System (in panel) -> Administration -> System Monitor -> System tab.
For Mac users, most modern Macs and MacBooks have multicore processor built it.
Check this youtube video, to learn how to use multiple cores (in Windows), which will significantly enhance your bootup time.

7). Defrag your Computer :

"Disk defragmentation describes the process of consolidating fragmented files on your computer's hard disk." (From "")
You can also check this for better understanding.
Microsoft has a free product called 'Defraggler' (you can download it from here ), that will defrag your computer.
We ran this sofware on our laptop, and here are some screenshots :

After defragmentation there was a reduction of 6% in the fragmentation.
Windows provide an inbuilt option to defragment your drives. Go to My Computer -> Select the drive you want to defragment -> Properties -> Tools tab -> Defragmentation section -> Click on “Defragment now...”.

Ubuntu operating system don't need degragmentation as it uses a better file system i.e. ext2/ext3/ext4, which handle the disk space more efficiently and minimises fragmentation on a real time basis.

8). Turn off visual enhancements :

Go to Control Panel -> System Properties -> System Properties Advanced tab -> Performance section -> Settings -> Visual Effects tab.
Here you can check the effects you want or that are best for the performance of your computer.

9). Overclocking the CPU :

Overclocking is the process of running a computer component at a higher clock rate (more clock cycles per second) than it was designed for or was specified by the manufacturer.” (
This is one way to increase the processing speed of the CPU. Go here to learn how to overclock.
But, be very careful before trying anything like this, as it can ruin your CPU and motherboard due to over heating.

10). Detect and repair disk errors :

You can check the integrity of the files stored in the memory by running the Error Checking Utility. By using the hard disk regularly certain bad sectors may get created in the Hard Disk. These bad sectors slow down the performance of the CPU and also make the data writing difficult. This utility checks for the bad sectors and scans the file system errors to see whether certain files or folders are misplaced. To run the utility:
My Computer -> Right click on disk you want to check the bad sectors in -> Properties -> Tools tab -> Check Now button.

In the dialog box select 'Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors' and click start. If bad sectors are found select "Automatically fix file system errors".

11). Ready-Boost :

It is an option available in windows 7 and Vista. A new way to add memory to your system, it uses non-volatile memory such as, USB drive or memory card, to enhance memory without having to add additional memory.
To use this method you can check this link.

12). Delete temporary and unused files :

Use programs like Disk Cleanup to delete the unnecessary and temporary files like temporary internet files, recycle bin, cookies, history, etc., which fill your hard disk, hence increasing the load on the CPU functioning.
My computer > Right click -> Properties -> General tab → Disk Cleanup.
There are some utility softwares available too for the same purpose. We used the software C Cleaner. (Available here).

13). Free up your computer's RAM :

Keep your RAM free and less loaded by using certain free utilities available like RAMBooster (available here).

Another way of freeing up your RAM is by forcing the windows to unload the DLLs (Dynamic-Link Libraries). Check for the details on this site .

14). Enhance the Filesystem Memory cache (For VISTA users) :

If you have a low RAM but enough system memory then you can increase the the cache memory, hence enhancing the RAM capacity, if you open and close a lot of applications all the time.
Check this link for more details.

15). Reduce the number of fonts that your computer has to load up on startup :

Check this to reduce the number of fonts.
This will be significant only if you have a lot (tons of them) of fonts.

16). Be Updated :

Update all your drivers in Windows, including chipset and motherboard drivers to their latest versions.
Also make sure to download all the latest Windows Updates, Service Packs, as they can help your computer work better.
You can check for updates here

17). Turn Off Indexing :

When we search for any file using search facility, the system stores the data that we searched, for faster retrieval when we search again, this is Indexing.
In Windows XP and Vista, the Windows Search indexing service is turned on for all drives. This service if turned off will increase the performance as the system will not store the data now. To turn off indexing :
My Computer -> Right click on the desired drive -> Properties -> Remove the check mark from "Allow Indexing Service...".
Refer to this site

18). Enable DMA mode in Windows XP for IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers :

Direct Memory Access(DMA) allows CD-ROM and hard disk to transfer information directly to and from memory without going through processor. Thus, reducing load over the CPU and increasing its performance. Refer this link to try this method.
Be careful while enabling the DMA mode as it may lead to cache-coherency problem.

19). For more ideas and suggestions : You can refer to this link

20). If still not happy :


In my laptop, we did the following experiments : Defragmenting my disk drives, Error correction, running Disk-Cleanup, Going into Classic theme mode, turning off indexing, and running the anti-virus and anti-spyware software. After the applying some of these methods we again tested for the youth of it. Again we made 15 executions of Adobe Acrobat Reader.

This time the average time taken was 0.3838 seconds. Thus, the observed improvement in the execution time was 0.0843 seconds i.e. about 18.008% enhancement in the CPU performance.

Our experience :
It was an interesting topic. We had great fun in performing the various options, doing experiments and observing the improvements implying in our laptop. Now our computer is working, as if bought just a few months back, all fast and geared up :)


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