If you do a search on line for tips about speeding up your computer, you'll find a ton of tip, tweaks, and programs claiming to help you speed up your system. Most programs that you download that promises to speed it up your system are crap. Especially if they insist on running in the background all the time.
Here is a few tips that, from my experience, that can help regain some more control over your system. Usually when people bring the computers to me, complaining they are slow, here's what I do.
First I download Ccleaner - http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner not to clean out temporary files but to use the Start-up option to see what's running in the background and disable anything not needed. Open the program, and click on Tools in the left hand menu and then Startup. Right Click on any item you want to disable by right-clicking on it and choose Disable.
You also might want to check out the Scheduled Tasks, doing the same. Unfortunately, telling you what to disable is a little bit harder. Some on line research should help you with that issue.
I usually use the cleaner tool as well but it's debatable if this will help your system. When you go to a web page for the first time a copy of that page is made on your computer in the Temporary Internet Files or cache files. Every other time you go to that web page, it loads up of your computer first then it checks on line for any changes. Overall you got the impression of a faster loading page.
So in theory, cleaning out the cache will slow you down. I do recommend cleaning out the cache if web pages in your browser are not displaying properly.
Since Ccleaner has a Registry cleaner, it's debatable if registry cleaners do anything worthwhile. You do risk the problem of the cleaner removing something that it shouldn't have. If you use the built in one here, take advantage of the backup option made available. Ccleaner will ask you if you want to backup the changes being made to the registry first.
To use the Registry cleaner, click on the Registry button, then the blue Scan for Issues button, toward the bottom, then when finished click on Fix selected issues..., It will ask do you want to backup, click Yes and just save it as is. If it only finds one issue just click on the Fix Issue button otherwise click on the Fix All Selected issues.
You might also want to disable Ccleaners monitoring options. Go to Options and then Monitoring and uncheck all checked options.
If you don't want to download a program you could try Windows built in msconfig utility. Just type msconfig in the search or run bar and click on it in the list. Click on the Startup tab. Very similar to Ccleaner's startup. As long as you are here, click on the Services tab and check the option Hide all Microsoft services and then research online to see what other services you can disable.
No matter what program you use the goal is the same disable unnecessary programs and utilities running in the background.
The next thing I do is run a scan for malware. My choices:
tdsskiller: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/tdsskiller/ and a quick scan with
I delete everything it finds. Then I usually reset the browsers, but a this is more for security than speed.
Fancy backgrounds themes, screen savers, and even sounds can all use up some of your computers resources. Right click on your desktop and click on Personalize. Go to the background tab and chose a simple background instead of a theme and uncheck Shuffle at the bottom to stop the system from changing the background randomly. Go to the Sounds options and choose No Sounds and uncheck Play windows Startup sound. On the Screen Saver tab choose (None).
Another thing I do is go to the Control Panel, then System then Advanced system settings and on the Advanced tab click on the Performance Settings button. If you don't care about visual effects, I usually just check on the Custom: button and check only three items; Smooth edges of screen fonts, Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop, and Use visual styles on windows and buttons.. The options may be a little different depending on your OS. Mine is Windows 7.
On older XP and Vista systems there have been noticeable improvements on most of the systems I've dealt with over the years.
Some people reading this might be thinking Defragging the drive speeds it up. I'm not a believer. As I understand it a long time ago, when drives where very slow and low capacity defrag was a godsend. With the higher capacity and speedier drives of today defragging has become more of a myth rather than a fact. Also don't defrag SSD drives.
Making sure your hard drive is not to full can also make a difference. Every program including Windows needs some breathing space to create temporary files. I've read somewhere online, correct me if I'm wrong that a system that was over 80% full can drag down the system by 50%. It was a while ago I read this so even if it was accurate it might not apply to modern day drives.
Anyway other than buying faster computers or more memory for one that you have, these options have from my experience have made computers work a little bit faster. Depending on your setup, the milage may vary.