Hardware upgrades, software tweaks and networking tricks to get more PC speed
How to tell that your PC's too slow
Just because your PC feels slow, it doesn't mean that it is. Any number of things can cause your computer to slow down temporarily: a stuck print job, a badly coded web page, a hiccup at your ISP, or something else.
Most users have a gut feeling about their computer's performance. When booting up takes more than a minute, or programs start to load sluggishly, it's time to put some effort into getting your system into shape again.
But where can you look for quantitative data on which to base these decisions? The best thing you can do is to benchmark your computer to see whether it is really getting slower. We use a professional benchmarking tool to assess PC performance, but it costs around £150 from worldbench.com. For a cheaper option, try the free version of PCMark Vantage. This will let you run a limited benchmark of your PC to check for trouble spots.
The difficult part is working out what to compare your benchmark numbers with. After all, benchmarks in a vacuum are useless. With WorldBench, you can compare your system's score with those of various modern PCs, as reported in this magazine or on our website at pcadvisor.co.uk/reviews. Another option is to pay £4 for PCMark Vantage Basic Edition so you can compare your score with those of other users who've submitted their numbers online.
Finally, you can use Windows' 'Performance Information and Tools' Control Panel. The information that's provided here is rudimentary, but it's better than nothing.
If you see the numbers slip to 15 to 20 percent below what you'd expect, it's probably time to take action.