Unfortunately, it seems with a Windows machine it is inevitable that it will slow down over time. There are a ton of reasons for this, but the following causes are the most common.
In most cases, since a slow computer is generally suffering from more than one problem, you will probably find that you will have to resolve the issue using more than a single solution.
A Messy Registry
The longer you use Windows, the more disordered your registry can become, especially if you regularly install and uninstall software. Many applications, on being uninstalled, leave behind “orphan” registry entries. They don’t remove all traces of themselves; causing problems such as sluggish performance, system lockups, or a bloated registry that takes longer to load on startup.
The easiest way to clean your registry is to use a free registry cleaner, such as RegSeeker. With the click of a button, RegSeeker will scan your registry for these fragmented files, and safely remove them. As with all Registry cleaners, use caution and be sure to backup using the backup feature of the application.
Download at: Hoverdesk
Full Hard Drive
A full hard drive will not function efficiently. You require at least 2 – 3MB of free space for programs to run smoothly. If you lack this much free space, you should uninstall unused programs on your primary drive. A superior program to uninstall programs from your computer is Revo Uninstaller. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application.
After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.
Download at: Revo Group
Not Enough Memory
It’s important to have enough memory on your computer to keep programs running smoothly. Current recommendations are that you have at least 512MB on your PC, although at this point, 1GB/2GB seems to be a safer bet. If you need to upgrade your RAM, check your local retail ads for sales. You can usually get a RAM upgrade at a great price.
Alternatively, you can run a free memory manager such as FreeRam XP Pro to free and optimize your computer’s RAM (Random Access Memory). The result should be an increase in system performance and productivity. The application automatically configures itself for ease of use, and also features advanced options and customizability. FreeRAM XP Pro has been designed to be easy to use yet highly customizable by computer novices and experts alike. I have been using this application for several years, and I am delighted with its performance.
Download at: MajorGeeks
Too Many Start-Up Programs
When you boot your computer, there may be a large number of programs that start automatically. These programs impact your computer’s available processing capacity and memory usage, and can slow it down dramatically. In all probability, you don’t need all of these programs to automatically start when you boot your computer.
Autoruns is a free utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, in my view, and shows you what programs are configured to run during system boot up or login, and the order Windows processes them.
These programs will include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more. Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.
Download at: Softonic
Turn off unnecessary services
If you are a typical computer user, then the fewer services your system runs the better. This issue is too comprehensive to discuss in this article but you can read my article on this Blog which will assist you in determining which services you can turn off in Windows XP Pro/Home, to improve performance and boot time.
Spyware and Malicious Programs
A common spyware complaint is; it slows down the operating system. As spyware accumulates on a computer, performance can grind to a dismal halt. Combating spyware starts with learning to recognize its presence and understanding its impact on system resources.
Recognizing when spyware is installed on a computer system and removing it promptly is the best method of protecting computers from catastrophic problems caused by spyware. There are many free applications available to help you recognize, control and remove spyware, adware, Trojans, and other malicious malware/programs that can infect and slowdown your system.
Here are some free applications that are reliable and I feel confident in recommending.