Problem: Your computer runs like your grandma.There is a reason.
Your mission: To figure out why your system is running slowly and fix it without calling any Geeks and costing yourself a ton of cash.
First you have to ask yourself how old your PC is. If it is more than 5 years old and you have never performed any upgrades, start researching how much RAM your system can have installed. RAM is random access memory. The more RAM your computer has, the faster it can perform tasks. (I recommend at least 512MB RAM for Windows XP & 1GB (1024MB) RAM for Windows Vista or windows 7.)
Find out how much RAM you have (Windows XP)
Let’s start by finding to how much RAM your computer has:
Open your Start menu, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, then System Information.
System Information opens to the System Summary screen.There you will find a list of all the important specs and information pertaining to your computer.
Locate “Total Physical Memory” on this list (6 from the bottom). “Total Physical Memory” shows the amount of RAM installed in your computer.
1,024.00 MB is equal to 1GB (MB = Megabyte | GB = Gigabye)
If the amount of installed RAM is less than suggested above (1 GB), feel free to leave a comment with your system manufacturer/model & we can assist with researching the type/amount of RAM you may want to upgrade with.
Installing RAM is very simple in most PCs. 10 years ago this wasn’t always the case (I’m look at you COMPAQ!).System Manufacturer & System Model can be found on the System Summary screen within System Information also.
Clean Up Your PC
Hopefully you have had the chance to clean up your PC with CCleaner, as suggested in Faster PC with CCLeaner. If not, focus on cleaning the PC, removing unnecessary items from startup and cleaning the registry. Be sure to save a copy of the registry files (when prompted by CCleaner) before deletion just in case problems arise. After making these registry changes, a reboot is in order.
Start, shutdown, restart.
Just wait for it… Restarting after these ‘small’ changes will assist in avoiding future issues, similarly to when a newly installed application requests the computer be restarted before using the program.
DMA vs. PIO Memory
Why are these important? I won’t go into more detail here than to say that DMA is faster and PIO mode can leave you with stuttering audio/video.
To put this into more understandable terms… If a scratched CD is played in your computer, windows will decide after 6 long skips (timeouts) that the CD/DVD-ROM transfer mode should be stepped down. You will not notice any difference listening to audio CDs but when copying files from CD/DVD, the transfer speed will be severely slower once it steps down to PIO mode.
The same premise applies to your hard drive as well. If an application hangs, this is enough to cause a timeout. Windows counts these events and if you have six in a row, BAM, your HDD (hard disk drive) will now be operating in PIO mode. While in PIO mode, your PC may stutter during (some, maybe not at all) audio/video playback.
Check for PIO Mode
To check if your PC is in a mode superior to PIO, do the following: Start, run, type “devmgmt.msc” without quotes & press enter.
Once the Device manager has opened, double click IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers, which displays a list of controllers and channels.
Double click on “Primary IDE Channel”, select Properties, and then click the “Advanced Settings” tab.
In the Current Transfer Mode drop-down box, select “DMA if Available” if the current setting is “PIO Only.”
If the drop-down box already shows “DMA if Available” but the current transfer mode is PIO, then the user must toggle the settings.
- Change the selection from “DMA if available” to PIO only, and click OK.
- Then repeat the steps above to change the selection to DMA if available.
Thanks to Microsoft for the instructions on enabling DMA.
If you are stuck in PIO mode & having issues turning on DMA, this site may be of assistance. This site hosts a .vbs (Visual Basic Script) file which may assist with setting PC to DMA mode.
Once these steps are complete, running a defrag on your PC is advisable.