I've noticed that people are amazed at how fast my computers run - to me, it's just normal. This guide will help your Windows-based computer - however new or old it may be - have much better performance.
Disclaimer: this introduction will be rather frank.
I am constantly shocked at the abysmal level of performance that the average person puts up with while using technology, but especially while using a computer. Observing their poor computers as they grind to a halt when told to execute a very simple task is not only painful, but completely avoidable. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of computer users simply don't know any better, and they believe that computers are just slow and dumb and cannot be designed or configured to perform any better than what they're used to.
This is where they are completely incorrect. With 15 to 20 minutes of time spent configuring various settings and doing some much-needed cleanup, nearly any computer can have its performance significantly improved. The major roadblock to the average user doing this is that they simply don't know any better, and that they have a general aversion to reading/following instructions when it comes to technology use.
In this guide I'll walk you through a 15 to 20 minute process that will allow your Windows-based computer to perform at a far greater level than what it was previously. I'll also go over some "best practices" for general computer usage so that you are able to keep your computer in good shape and not have to have such a major intervention in the future.
We'll need to use some utilities in order to clean your computer up and get it running at its best. The utilities we need to install all come with portable versions, which means that they will not install any hidden files onto your computer - they are entirely self-contained. This also means that you can put them onto a portable USB drive and take them with you to use them on any computer anywhere (this is what I do!).
The programs we need to install are called IOBit Uninstaller, SpeedyFox, UltraDefrag, 7-zip, MalwareBytes Chameleon, and ClamWin.
Preparing To Install Programs
In order to keep everything in a sensible, easy-to-find location, we will install all of our portable utilities into the same location. We'll need to create an easily accessible folder to keep them in; instructions for how to do this are below.
- Go to your Desktop - this is the screen on your computer when no windows are open, that has your wallpaper and icons on it.
- Right-click with your mouse on a blank location on your Desktop (where no icons are) and hover your mouse pointer over New (but do not actually click the mouse button on New!). A secondary menu will appear to the side. Move your mouse over the word Folder (it should have a yellow icon next to it) and left-click one time.
- Right-click on the New Folder you just created one time, move your mouse over the Rename option in the menu, and click one time. You will see the name of the folder become selected. We are going to rename the folder Cleanup Utilities, so go ahead and type those two words now. Once you are finished typing Cleanup Utilities, press the Enter key on your keyboard one time.
Once we begin to download and install our potable utilities, they will all go into this Cleanup Utilities folder. We'll go over how to get them there once we begin to download and install them.
Installing IOBit Uninstaller
- Go to the PortableApps page for IOBit Uninstaller to go to the IOBit Uninstaller download page. Click on the big green Download button to download the program.
- When the program is finished downloading, open your Downloads folder and drag the IOBit Uninstaller program file into the Cleanup Utilities folder we created on the Desktop earlier.
- Go to the PortableApps page for SpeedyFox to go to the SpeedyFox download page. Click on the big green Download button to download the program.
- When the program is finished downloading, open your Downloads folder and drag the SpeedyFox program file into the Cleanup Utilities folder we created on the Desktop earlier.
- Go to the PortableApps page for UltraDefrag to go to the UltraDefrag download page. Click on the big green Download button to download the program.
- When the program is finished downloading, open your Downloads folder and drag the UltraDefrag program file into the Cleanup Utilities folder we created on the Desktop earlier.
- Go to http://www.7-zip.org/ to go to the 7-zip downloads page. Click on the Download link next to the 64-bit x64 text at the very top of the page (it is highly likely that you have a 64-bit computer).
- Navigate to your Downloads folder and double-click on the 7-zip installer you just downloaded. Follow the instructions in the installer by reading them carefully and appropriately clicking and choosing what you need to. If you are careful to read and follow the simple instructions in the 7-zip installer, you will be able to successfully install the program. If the installer fails, delete it from your Downloads folder and download and use the 32-bit installer instead.
Installing MalwareBytes Chameleon
- Go to https://www.malwarebytes.com/chameleon/ to go to the MalwareBytes Chameleon download page. Click on the blue Download button at the top of the page to start downloading the program.
- Navigate to your Downloads folder and drag the ZIP file you just downloaded into the Cleanup Utilities folder we created on the Desktop earlier.
- Open the Cleanup Utilities folder and right-click ONE time on the ZIP file that you just moved there. Read the options in the context menu that pops up until you are able to locate the option that says 7-zip. If you cannot find this option, you did not successfully install 7-zip in the previous step of this guide, and you will need to backgrack and make sure you have installed 7-zip properly.
- Once you are hovering over 7-zip in the context menu, read the options that pop up in the secondary context menu until you locate the one that says Extract Here. Left-click on this option ONE time in order to extract the ZIP archive successfully.
- Go to the ClamWin Download page to go to the ClamWin downloads page. Click on the gray-with-red-arrow Download Now link in the middle of the page in order to begin downloading the program.
- Navigate to your Downloads folder and double-click on the ClamWin installer you just downloaded. Follow the instructions in the installer by reading them carefully and appropriately clicking and choosing what you need to. If you are careful to read and follow the simple instructions in the ClamWin installer, you will be able to successfully install the program.
Success! We now have a full suite of utilities and programs to help clean up and optimize your computer. Let's get to actually using them!
The first thing we need to do is to make sure that there are no deeply-rooted viruses, spyware, malware, etc. on your computer. In order to do this, the first utility we need to use is MalwareBytes Chameleon. This program is specifically designed to outsmart any viruses that might try to take over your computer and/or shut down antivirus programs, so it's the very first thing we need to do if we want to ensure that none of our other cleanup utilities are being tampered with.
Using MalwareBytes Chameleon
- Navigate to the Cleanup Utilities folder on your Desktop and double-click to open the mbam-chameleon folder that was extracted out of the ZIP archive earlier. The folder may have some numbers in its name - this is fine, open it anyway. Keep going deeper into the folders until you see a folder that contains many differently-named files (ex. "chameleon.chm").
- Read the file names inside this folder until you find the file that is named mbam-chameleon.exe. Double- and triple-check that you have found the EXACT correct file name. Once you have found the correct file, double-click on it to start MalwareBytes Chameleon.
- Depending on how infected your computer may be with viruses, how fast it is in the first place, and (most importantly) how well you have taken care of it, MalwareBytes Chameleon could take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. It will also completely disallow use of your computer until it is finished, so it's time to go grab a book and some tea.
This may seem excessive and unnecessary solely based on how long it takes, but it is extremely important to be absolutely sure that your computer is not infected with any type of virus, malware, spyware, etc. Such infections can lead to data loss, computer slowdowns/failures, and massive security risks - as in, "anybody who wants to can view any of your personal information at any time" massive.
Just let MalwareBytes Chameleon do its thing, and when it is finished, you will have the peace of mind that you are no longer infected.
Using Disk Cleanup
Your computer has what is called a drive, where all of its files are stored. Ideally, you want your drive to be as empty as possible - this will allow it to work much less, and thus be much faster at doing what it needs to do. Unfortunately, it's likely that your disk is very full with lots of large files that you've never really paid attention to before, so we'll need to use Disk Cleanup in order to clean things up a bit.
- Press the Windows key in the bottom left corner of your keyboard, and type the words "disk cleanup" (without typing the quotation marks). When you see the Disk Cleanup icon pop up in the Start menu, go ahead and click on it one time.
- A window will pop up asking you to select the drive you want to clean. We're going to select C:\ and click OK.
- At the next window that pops up, you want to click on the button that says Clean up system files. This will relaunch Disk Cleanup - remember to select C:\ again and press OK.
- Check every single box in the upper section of the Disk Cleanup window, so that you make sure to clean up the maximum amount of files you can. Once every box is checked, click OK in the bottom right corner (make sure not to hit Cancel, they are in the opposite positions that they normally would be!).
Disk Cleanup will take its time cleaning up as much disk space as it possibly can for you. This is good - it's being thorough - but it may take up to 30 minutes in order to complete. Just let it sit and do its thing uninterrupted.
When a computer accesses files, it tends to leave them all over the place on the drive. Windows is espeically bad about this. This is called fragmentation. If files are haphazardly spread out all over a drive, it takes longer for the computer to access them, and causes the drive to have to work extra hard in order to find them (which results in shorter drive life, etc.). We can do a process called defragmenting in order to move files to one side of the drive and put them in order, thereby greatly reducing the amount of work the computer has to do in order to find and access them.
- Navigate to the Cleanup Utilities folder on your Desktop and double-click to open the UltraDefragPortable file you downloaded earlier. If an installer pops up, follow through with the installer, carefully reading every single word on every single screen that pops up in order to ensure you are choosing the correct options.
- Once UltraDefrag opens up, it will show you a list of drives in your computer (you most likely only have one). Select the C:\ drive in the list by clicking on it ONE time (not twice, just one time), and then press F6 on your keyboard in order to start defragmenting the drive.
- Once defragmentation is finished (it may take a long time), select your C:\ drive again in the list of drives and press Ctrl-F7 on your keyboard to start a full optimization of the drive. This means that you need to press and hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard, and then press F7 while Ctrl is still held down.
UltraDefrag will take a while to perform its magic, but you will notice an immediate improvement in the speed of your computer - especially when you have to restart or shut down your computer for any reason.
This guide is still a work-in-progress - if you're seeing this, that means that you're at the end of it for now! If you want further reading, you can read the official written documentation for all of the programs listed above.
If you have any suggestions, click the Contact button at the top of this page. Thanks!