While the cost of computer upgrades may be getting lower for the most part, computing can still be an expensive hobby if you are an enthusiast. Whether you enjoy playing games or using professional computer aided design or movie editing software, you’re going to need some PC optimization to get all of the power you possibly can out of your machine. Hardware upgrades, while always providing the best PC tune up, are prohibitively expensive for many of us. Fortunately, there are a few free ways to make a considerable boost in performance.

1: Get Rid of Unused Programs and Files

This applies to both new computers and ones which you’ve owned for years. New computers are often in more need of PC optimization than any other computers, since they often come with a great deal of ‘bloatware’ or junk software installed. Getting rid of all of this preloaded rubbish is essential for any PC tune up. It makes Windows take far longer to load, it hogs system resources and, in the worst case scenario, it causes system instability.  

To begin with, enter the “Programs and Features” section of the Control Panel and remove everything that you don’t use. If you’re not sure about a particular program or feature, it’s safer to leave it. Be sure that you know exactly what you’re uninstalling before continuing.

The next step in your PC tune up is to remove all other junk on your PC. Run Disk Cleanup to remove all unused temporary files, Internet data and anything else that you no longer need. It’s safe to check all of the boxes and let Disk Cleanup do the work for you.

2: Prevent Unwanted Programs Starting at System Startup

The most essential part of PC optimization is to have as few programs running in the background as you can. Do you really need programs such as Skype, MSN Messenger or Steam running constantly in the background? All they do is take up system resources and make Windows take much longer to load. Many programs configure themselves to start up on Windows logon by default.

Stop this from happening by typing ‘msconfig’ into the ‘Search programs and files’ box in the Start menu. Open the program and navigate to the ‘startup’ tab. Deselect any programs that you don’t want starting automatically when you log in to Windows. You can safely deselect any program from here, but if you are unsure about something, you might prefer to leave it. You can always change the settings again letter.

3: Defragmenting Your Hard Disk

Last but not least, defragmenting your hard disk is a must for your PC tune up. This is also the case with a new PC, especially after you’ve just installed all of your programs on it and copied over all your files. Also, after a few months of using the computer, PC optimization becomes even more important, especially with regards to the hard disk. When data is copied to the disk, it is fragmented. This means that the data contained by a file will be scattered all over the physical hard disk, rather than being located in one place. For obvious reasons, this is not very efficient. Run Windows Disk Defragmenter to complete your PC tune up. It may take some time, but you’ll notice the difference if you haven’t run it in a few months.