How Can I Diagnose And Fix My Slow Computer?

Dear Lifehacker, My computer's feeling a little sluggish lately and I want to boost its performance if possible. I see ads all the time for PC optimisation programs, but they all look spammy. Are there any easy and reliable tools I can use to check my PC and tune it up? Thanks, Hoping for a Boost

Dear Hoping,

Getting top performance out of your computer is definitely a Lifehacker challenge. We've got some ideas for you that may help.

Perform Basic Maintenance

We guess that you're already doing basic maintenance for your computer. But just in case, here are our recommendations for maintaining your Windows PC, Mac or Linux system. Performing those maintenance steps, such as keeping your operating system and applications up to date and cleaning out temporary files, should keep your system running well. Sometimes, just deleting bloatware can really make a big difference in your computer's performance (we recommend PC Decrapifier for the job). So definitely the first thing we'd recommend is to check the guide for your operating system.

Download and Run Diagnostic Tools Like Soluto to Identify Problems

If your computer is experiencing problems, however, like applications freezing or serious slowdowns, you can use computer diagnostic software to troubleshoot the problem.

Previously mentioned Soluto is a free Windows tool that shows you which applications may be slowing your system down. It's also a fantastic tool for magically solving application crashes before they happen and can report crash information based on other Soluto users' experiences.

For other diagnostic tools, you can find Lifehacker readers' five favourite diagnostic tools here. A tool that's not on that list but still may be a great option for you for its excellent interface and benchmarking tools is the previously mentioned free Windows program Fresh Diagnose.

Finally, if you're interested, doing a stress test of your hardware can help you troubleshoot any problems you're having.

Perform a Quick System Check Up Online with PC PitStop OverDrive

If you just want a quick PC health check, however, there's a free online tool called OverDrive from PC PitStop you can use that will analyse your computer's hardware, software, security, and so on, and give you recommended fixes, if any. The site looks spammy, but the tool actually does a good job of analysing your system and can also be used for benchmarking your computer. (Note: PC PitStop also offers PC Matic and other software downloads that can check your computer's performance, but you don't need to download and install any software to run the OverDrive tests.)

To use the Windows-only tool, you have to visit http://pcpitstop.com/betapit using Internet Explorer running in Administrator mode (right-click on IE and choose to run as Administrator). Allow the browser to install the Active-X object, and the site will start scanning your system.

When it's done scanning, OverDrive will suggest fixes like clearing your cache, updating any missing drivers, increasing security settings and so forth. Re-run the tests after making any suggested fixes and you should see your rank improve and your PC operating at least a bit better.

Good luck and have fun testing your system!

Cheers, Lifehacker

P.S. If you know of another great tool for this job, please let us know in the comments.


Comments

    CCleaner's the only program you need.

    There are some basics that I do all the time that keep my Window 7 PC running well.

    I run CCleaner once a day to clear out all the temp and junk files. It doesn't get all of them, but enough to keep things running smoothly.

    I defrag my main C drive daily using PerfectDisk. This can run in the background or overnight, and doesn't take long if run regularly.

    Every few weeks, I run a lightweight [be careful of the heavy duty ones, they can cause more damage than good] registry cleaner, although this isn't as essential as the first two unless you're having problems with the system or programs malfunctioning - in which case I'd suggest re-building from scratch anyway.

    And in case I have a major problem and have to restore the system, I run Acronis True Image every day and weekly to make an image backup of my C drive. It takes 20 mins to restore the whole system if I have a major problem.

    These keep my system running smoothly.

    hmm.. I'm having trouble downloading Soluto? It's taking an awfully long time, and then there's an "error".. because of my firewall blocking it, but I've switched it off and still the same. any help guys?

    I used to use 3 or 4 different programs to clean the different parts of my computer, now I just use http://compumaid.com to take care of EVERYTHING! It's so much easier!

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