Windsor Geek
Things to do that should improve the performance of my PC or laptop

There are a number of possible causes of this and I'll cover the ones that crop up most frequently. They are as follows....

Problem: Spyware, virus or malware infection.
Recommendation: Ensure you've got a good antivirus or internet security program installed and working. The following recently published comparison of relevant products is helpful. Additionally it's also possible to get perfectly adequate protection at zero cost. Microsoft Security Essentials, AVG Antivirus and Avast Antivirus are good examples of free alternatives to the paid-for products.

Problem: Fragmentation of data stored on the computer's hard disk.
Suggestion: Files are accessed and updated more efficiently when they're stored in an organised and tidy way on the disk. But over time, with normal use, files can become fragmented which degrades performance. Windows has a build in disk defragmenter. Use it every couple of months. Here's a guide for how to use the defragment utility in Windows XP and here's the one for Windows 7.

Problem: CPU (aka processor) may be getting too hot.
Suggestion: If the CPU is overheating it'll throttle back performance in order to reduce overheating and thereby reduce the chances of consequential damage. Check the air vents aren't obstructed or clogged with dust or anything else. If necessary clean the vents. Also be aware of where the vents are located and ensure that the computer isn't situated where the air flow to/from the vents will be reduced because this'll affect the laptop's ability to stay cool.

Problem: The PC has become cluttered with installed programs and browser toolbars.
Suggestion: Over time PCs can become cluttered with a lot of installed software which normally has an impact on a computer's performance. This is largely caused by applications which set themselves to automatically start up when the PC is turned on. This results in the PC taking a long time to start up and generally hinders performance by consuming RAM leaving less available for other programs. The solution is to declutter. To do this uninstall applications you donít need or no longer use and, if possible, stop unnecessary programs from self-starting.

Problem: The PC is slow to start and stop applications and the hard disk light is lit most of the time.
Suggestion: If having already considered the preceding article it may be that the PC is in need of more RAM. Check that the amount of RAM at least meets the requirements specified for the operating system and applications normally open on the PC. If it doesn't meet the requirements upgrade is, of course, recommended.

Footnote: If you've worked through the above steps and have been unable to achieve the needed improvement in performance then get in touch. I'll be happy to assess the situation and share my thoughts on the cause(s) of poor performance and how further improvements will be achieved.