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Monday, September 28, 2009

Free #1 Tweak to Improve Windows Performance

Every year billions of dollars are spent by folks just trying to improve the performance of their computers. Over the last couple years there’s been a big market for “Registry Cleaners” even though there has been little evidence having a “tidy”, smaller registry makes any difference. Truth is, a few simple, free tweaks can be done which can drastically improve the speed of their computers.

Providing support for my WinPatrol program I run into a wide range of symptoms reported by our users. Some problems don’t always make sense yet a surprising number are resolved by just cleaning up the Windows Temporary Internet Folder. I haven’t read much from Microsoft about cluttered Temp Folders but my years of experience tell me if this file gets too large all kind of seemingly unrated problems can result. You might be saying “I don’t use Internet Explorer so why do I care about it’s Temp Internet Folder” option. Trust me, if you’re using Windows XP, Vista or even Windows 7, you care.

The original purpose of the Temp Internet Folder was to save time accessing web pages by storing images and other objects that don’t change on your system. Just like the HOSTs file this was a good idea when we were all on slow dial-up connections but today many dial-up connections are fast enough these features are no longer relevant. Anecdotal evidence shows the Temp Internet Folder is used for more than just browsing the Internet.

Go ahead and open Internet Explorer if it’s not already open. Click on the “Tools” menu and select “Internet Options”. Don’t worry about clicking on the Delete button on the first screen. Nothing will be deleted until the 2nd screen. Note: This is how it looks using Internet Explorer 8 which provides more options on which items you’ll want to remove.

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Click on the Settings button and you can tell Windows how much space to allocate for Temporary files. I recommend selecting the lowest amount recommended.

If you’re looking for even more performance there are some standard changes you can make that all the experts agree on.
Adding memory will always be a big improvement. It may not be free but memory prices are pretty low these days. If you’re getting a new computer and need to choose between a faster processor and more memory, go for the more memory.

The other tweak where you can’t go wrong is by cleaning up the list of programs which are loaded at startup. I’m obviously biased but you can accomplish this by downloading WinPatrol for free. If you’re not sure a program can be removed, upgrade to WinPatrol PLUS.

As I said earlier and have written before some folks will recommend a Registry Cleaner. I’m not a big fan and worry because I think there is always a small risk of removing something that may really be important.

The other tweak which many recommend is to defrag your hard drive. Some experts swear this should be part of your regular system maintenance but I’m not a big fan. It’s a personal thing and may be due to problems I’ve experienced following a disk defrag.

I will stand by my recommendation to clean up your Temporary Internet Folder and welcome comments from others who have had positive or negative results. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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