How to Speed up Computer Hard Drive

Level of difficulty: Easy

The hard drive holds all of the data stored in the computer. These may be files added by the user, files added by the system, or program components. If the hard drive is not maintained properly, these files can cause the hard drive to run slower than usual.

Materials Needed:
- CD or DVD burner (optional)
- burning software (optional)
- blank CDs or DVDs (optional)
- third-party or system clean-up programs
Step 1
One of the main causes of the hard drive slowing down is having too many files stored. When a file is accessed in the drive, the computer will have to search for it by reading all the other files stored before or after it. It takes longer for the computer to read files if there are a lot of them. Make sure to keep files to minimum and delete unnecessary data files. If necessary, create backups of unimportant files by burning them on CDs or DVDs. The original copies can then be deleted from the hard drive. The backups can then be stored and accessed later, without using up hard disk space.
Step 2
Aside from manually deleting files, unnecessary and temporary files stored in the system must also be removed. These include those created in the Temp folder and the cookies stored from browsing the Web. These can be deleted manually by accessing their respective folders. Some Operating Systems also come with integrated applications used to clean unnecessary files. There are also standalone programs that can be downloaded and installed to search for these files and delete them.
Step 3
Make sure all the programs configured to run at startup are necessary. Having unnecessary device drivers or applications registered as startup processes makes the system load slower. On Windows XP, this can be checked by typing 'msconfig' in the Run command prompt. Users can then modify the startup processes. Some standalone programs can also enable users to complete this task.
Step 4
Users can manually check the system for installed programs that are no longer necessary. Most applications come with integrated uninstallers. These will provide user-friendly prompts to guide the user through removing the software.
Step 5
For some Operating Systems, an integrated system tool can monitor unused programs. Windows Operating Systems have the 'Add/Remove Program' option to monitor applications installed. Simply access the Control Panel to launch the program. Once the window is opened, it will list all the software installed in the computer. This often includes the details of the programs, as well as the date and time when it was last used.
Step 6
In Windows XP, the Add/Remove Programs list can be sorted according to frequency of use. Check the rarely-used applications. Determine if the software can be uninstalled without a negative impact on the system or user preference. The unnecessary programs can be uninstalled immediately by clicking 'Remove'.
Step 7
The hard disk can also run slower due to a fragmented hard drive. This happens because certain bits of data are stored in any available space. If a file is suddenly erased, the spot it was in will now be free. Since files are not all added or deleted at the same time, this causes holes in the file system. This means that new files may have data stored at different locations, making it fragmented and harder to read.
Step 8
For computers running on Windows Operating Systems, the system can be easily defragmented using the built-in Disk Defragmenter.
Step 9
For computers running on the Mac OS, users will need to manually defragment the hard drive. This involves manually backing up all the data files and deleting the originals in the computer. This would leave just the system files. Once this is done, all the files should be added back to the computer, making sure no gaps are left in the file system.