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14 free software speed boosts for your PC

Turbocharge your computer from startup to shutdown

If upgrading your PC is out of the question, fear not. You still have plenty of options for increasing its pep. A few simple software settings can lead to massive performance gains. Here's our best 14 tips and tweaks to turbocharge your PC with software.

Scrub startup apps

In all likelihood, an astonishing number of applications in your PC load junk at system startup without your knowledge. Let's cut 'em down. First, take a look at what's in your startup queue by typing msconfig in the Start menu search box. Click the Startup tab, and you'll find a list of everything that loads during boot time, probably including a number of programs (notorious examples include QuickTime and anything Adobe makes) that clog it up. Uncheck the box next to each application that you don't want your PC to load during boot.

Another option is Soluto, a free tool that performs the same operation on a crowd-source basis. If you're unsure what some of the applications in the msconfig display are, Soluto can probably tell you-along with exactly how much time each one costs you during startup. The catch: Soluto itself will slow you down by a few seconds, so install it only if you know your system has a lot of stuff loading at startup that you can safely get rid of.

Turn off search indexing

The ability to search your computer at Google-like speeds is one of Windows 7's (and Vista's) greatest strengths. But if you're organised, you may not need to use it -and no matter how orderly you keep your business, indexing services will slow you down, sometimes heavily.

To change indexing settings, type services at the Start menu prompt, and run the Services application. Scroll down to and right-click Windows Search, and then choose Properties. There, change the 'Startup type' to Disabled, and finish by clicking OK.

Clip Aero's wings

Windows' desktop display with translucent windows, variable backgrounds, and other trappings certainly looks pretty. But those effects can slow your system considerably.

To turn them off, open the Personalization control panel, and scroll down in the main window to 'Basic and High Contrast Themes'. The Windows 7 Basic theme is attractive but uses much less graphics-rendering power.

If you want to make more-granular tweaks, open the 'Performance Information and Tools' control panel and click Adjust visual effects in the left-hand pane. Here you'll find two dozen specific settings that you can adjust for better computer speed; turn them off by clicking the Adjust for best performance button and then clicking OK.

Delete the Peek

Aero Peek and Aero Snap each consume a relatively small amount of system resources, but disabling Aero Snap will likely save you time by eliminating accidental snaps that you have to undo manually.

To access these features, type ease at the Start menu prompt and select Ease of Access Center. At the bottom of the screen, click Make it easier to focus on tasks. Put a check in the box that reads Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen to turn off Aero Snap. While you're in there, consider checking the box di­­rectly above the Turn off all unnecessary animations (when possible) option, as another minor timesaver.

To turn off Aero Peek, right-click the taskbar and select Properties. Then un­­check Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop.

NEXT PAGE: Kill compression

  1. From startup to shutdown
  2. ReadyBoost
  3. Scrub startup apps
  4. Kill compression

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