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How to Tune Up and Speed Up Old Slow Computer

Updated on May 4, 2017
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2017 Update

Looks like most of the tune-up stuff will work just fine and dandy for Windows 10 as well. You can access the DOS command line by right-clicking the lower-left Windows 10 icon and selecting from list.

Frankly, if your old computer is becoming a real pain in the neck, I'd recommend doing what you have to do to buy a new one.

I've noticed perfectly good, new, desktop, WIN10 computers can be purchased for under $300, excluding the cost of the monitor. You will have to work to find them; but they are out there. Monitors likewise continue to see reduced prices.

Based on personal experience, I must recommend the avoidance of emachines, Acer, and possibly similar ilk. My current Dell computer has been serving me well. Best Buy and Walmart seem to have the best prices more often than not, but your results may vary.

Meanwhile, on to the tune-up section...

Just a reminder... And definitely do not do defrags during inclement weather or other potential, possible causes of power interruptions.
Just a reminder... And definitely do not do defrags during inclement weather or other potential, possible causes of power interruptions.

Tuning Up That Old Computer

How to speed up, tune up, fix up your old Windows XP computer, desktop, PC. And performance enhancements. For that matter, most of these items will also work just fine for Windows systems both older and newer than XP, Windows 7, etc.

Ways on how to speed up an old, slow computer for free.

Tune up old computer
Tune up old computer | Source

Old Windows PC / Computer Fix and Tune Up Guide: Introduction

How to do Windows PC, desktop, laptop, notebook, tablet, etc. tune-ups. The best Windows Performance Fixes and Security Fixes for your old, slow Computer/PC.

Your ultimate, free guide to making your computer be all that it can be. Here is the Top 10 list of what this article covers (actually, there are way more than 10; lucky you):

1. Back-Ups.

2. MS Firewall and Exception List.

3. IE or Other Browser.

4. Email Cleanup and Data Safety Warning.

5. MS Updates.

6. Delete All Temp Files.

7. Delete All Cookies.

8. Delete all Obsolete User Files.

9. Delete all Microsoft Office Clip-Art Files (Maybe).

10. Uninstall All Obsolete Programs/Applications/Software.

11. Disable Unwanted Startup Programs.

12. Security and Security Software.

13. Registry Cleanup.

14. Disk Defragmentation.

15. Monitor Modifications.

16. Free Software Resources.

17. Odds and Ends.

Old Windows PC / Computer Free Fix It and Tune Up Guide: Back-Ups

First and foremost; do those file backups you have been putting off.

If you already have a set procedure, skip the rest of this section.

Copy/Paste is generally better than drag/drop; it uses less computer resources and prevents accidental moves.

If you have the disk space, you might as well go for a 2fer.

In your root directory, create a directory named “BUmmddyy”, e.g.: “BU072513”.

Right-click your user-file directory and select “copy”. Right-click your backup directory and select “paste”.

After copying all your user directories and files: open your CD/DVD/whatever pane. Right-click-copy your backup directory and paste to the CD/DVD/whatever pane. Nothing is simple anymore: make sure the copy function actually took place; shutdown-restart your computer and then test-open a couple files from the backup platform.

Now when you do your disk cleanup, you can also delete those files you feel slightly ambiguous about. After all, you’ve got two backup copies: one on disk and one on your separate backup.

Free How-to Guide and Instructions

Speed up old computer
Speed up old computer | Source

Old MS Windows Firewall and Exception List

Be sure the Microsoft Firewall is on. To do this, go to your Control Panel and select the Firewall icon: make sure the firewall option is green-dot (or whatever) checked.

Exception List (very important):

Click the “Exception” tab. If your computer is not on a network, uncheck all those “network” and “remote” items. You don’t need them; and they increase your vulnerability. In fact, you can try un-checking everything except those items relating to your security software; if a problem develops, you can go back and re-check the appropriate item.

IE Browser

2016 Update: The IE browser is pretty much an obsolete, unsupported corpse and a malware/virus gateway to your computer. Best to switch to another browser, Firefox and Chrome are good alternatives. If your computer can't handle the latest versions, I believe Firefox keeps their older versions online for people to use.

If continuing to use the IE Browser...

Click the “Tools” menu option near the top of your browser screen; then select “Internet Options” (probably at bottom of list).

Under the “General” tab, click “Delete…”. At minimum click to delete the “Temporary Internet Files” and “Cookies”. IE doesn’t find/delete all of your temp files or cookies, but it’s a start and certainly better than nothing. Click/unclick the other options as you prefer. Click “Delete” to execute.

Back at “Tools” > “Internet Options”, click the “Security” tab (probably next to the “General” tab). Confirm your security level is at least at “Medium-high”. Click “Trusted sites” and then the sites button. It is recommended you delete all sites (except one) in this zone. Drive-by malware installs happen to legit sites all the time. Designating a site as a trusted site doesn't really do anything for you anyway. If deleting one or more of these sites does cause you inconvenience later on, you can always add it back. The one site you do want there is “ * “; this will keep your Microsoft-Update-Procedure happy. Be sure the https box is checked.

Peruse the other tabs as so inclined.

What appear to be erratic, non-functioning websites might actually be caused by a browser overloaded with accumulated toolbars and other bells-and-whistles. These toolbars may be uncooperative when trying to remove them via the browser. You can go to your Control Panel and select the add/remove software option; you should be able to find/remove all of them there. Worst case scenario, you can always uninstall/reinstall the browser itself. Be sure to have an alternate brand browser installed and available before doing this.

Computer tune up, fix up, speed up, etc.
Computer tune up, fix up, speed up, etc. | Source

Old Windows PC / Computer Email Cleanup and Data Safety Warning

Apparently, Microsoft has done a very bad thing.

Now and then your email client offers to “Compact” your email files. It’s Microsoft’s way of reorganizing and maybe defragging your email messages for maximum accessibility and performance. This is what the user also assumes and agrees to.

Unfortunately, Microsoft may very well actually delete some of your emails. In at least some versions of the old software; there is a default setting which will cause the program to delete all email messages over six months old. You need to plow through all your menu options to determine if your version of the email software does this. If you can’t find this setting, then your software version probably doesn't perpetrate this.

There is no particular reason to assume Microsoft software is the only application which may or may not do this.

Drop by your “Deleted” folder after you have cleaned up your other folders. You may find some/all of your missing email messages. And you can permanently delete the messages you desperately want to have disappear forever (of course another copy may be in an auto-backup file somewhere…, you’ll have to do a text-within-file string search to find it).

During your menu wanderings you no doubt discovered exactly where your messages are being stored (and reviewed your security and other settings). Now is as good a time as any to:

1. Exit the email client.

2. Go to that message directory.

3. Right-click and make a backup copy of it.

Computer tune-ups.
Computer tune-ups. | Source

Old or New Windows PC / Free Computer Fix It and Tune Up Guide: MS Updates

Download and install all those free Microsoft updates. Those updates fix general bugs, add enhancements; and most importantly, continually provide important security upgrades.

If you have an awesome computer and an awesome internet connection you can:

1. Go to your “Control Panel”.

2. Select “Automatic Updates”.

3. Make sure the “Automatic (recommended)” option is selected.

4. And be done with it.

If the above implementation has jammed up your computer at inappropriate times in the past, then you can select the “Turn off Automatic Updates” option. This means at least once a week or so you should return to this same screen and click the underlined “Windows Update Web site” text. This will take you to the MS update site. Follow the prompts and let Microsoft have its way with your computer.

One way or the other, just be sure to get it done.

Delete "All" Temp Files

There are all sorts of useless, obsolete temp files all over your hard disk. There are free software utilities which will clean all that up for you.

Tune up old computer
Tune up old computer | Source

Delete All Cookies

Cookies (aka little critters). These little critters are put on your hard drive by almost every website to snoop on you.

If you have never done a cookie cleanup, then there are probably hundreds of these things; all of them busily working away…

All their snooping, tracking, and tattling are hogging your CPU and memory resources. These little critters alone can and will bring your computer down to a crawl. You must kill them.

Yes, there are free software utilities which will do that for you.

Old Windows PC / Free Computer Fix It and Tune Up Guide: Delete all Obsolete User Files

Go to your search function. Maybe go to the “Click here to use Search Companion” option. Use asterisk-dot-extension to find your files, examples: *.jpg, *.xlsx, *.docx, etc. Select/delete the unwanted ones right there in the search pane.

Speeding up old computer.
Speeding up old computer. | Source

Free Old Windows PC / Computer Fix It and Tune Up Guide: Delete all Microsoft Office Clip-Art Files (Maybe)

Do you have MS Office? If so, Microsoft probably installed around 4000 image files you will never use. It depends on your software version; it depends on how it was installed. They also do this with their other programs. Some of those file name extensions are *.bmp, *.gif, *.jpg, *.jpeg, etc.


1. You have your original software on CD/DVD/whatever for re-installs/repairs.

2. You really need to do this for disk space or other reasons.

3. You really, really know what you are doing.

Then proceed. The Search Function is probably your best way to go; you can use the Images option; and you will want to use the Hidden Files option. Don’t delete any directory names; just the files. Don’t go near any sub-directories/files that look like they could be automatically called up by the program during normal operation. Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to let the deleted files hang around in the Recycle Bin for awhile.

Free Old or New Windows PC / Computer Fix It and Tune Up Guide: Uninstall All Obsolete Programs / Applications / Software

Go to your Control Panel. Select “Add or Remove Programs”. Select each program you recognize and want to remove. Click the remove button and proceed.

Disable Unwanted Startup Programs

There are probably several unwanted programs which are initiated every time you start your computer. These can be a major unnecessary depletion of your CPU and memory resources.

Yes, there are free software utilities which can fix that for you.

Tune up, fix up old computer
Tune up, fix up old computer

Free PC / Computer Fix and Tune Up Guide: Security and Security Software

You very likely have Adobe Reader, Java, and Adobe Flash Player on your computer. All three are platform conduits for hacker/malware activity. Be sure to always have the latest, greatest updates.

To update Adobe Reader: be online and bring up the application from your Programs Menu. You will find the Update feature under the Help menu option.

To update Java: be online and go to your Control Panel; select the Java icon; click on the menu Update tab. More than likely the Java updates are already done automatically for you, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

As to the Adobe Flash Player: You will have to go to the Adobe website and find the appropriate update page. You may or may not succeed at your first install/update attempt; compatibility, security settings, and/or other factors could cause problems. And you could render inoperative your existing version in the process. Frankly, the Adobe Flash Player install/update can be a real pain in the… Here is a list of things you may have to do to succeed:

1. Temporarily add “ * ” to your Trusted Sites list.

2. Temporarily uncheck the “https” box.

3. Temporarily reset the Trusted Sites security to its lowest possible setting. Close/reopen browser.

4. Try installing/update again. If still unsuccessful, go to your Control Panel, select the Add/Remove icon, and remove whatever existing remnants of the application that are there. You will find it right at the top of the list; be sure you don’t also uninstall the Adobe Reader by mistake.

5. Reboot your computer and go back online.

6. Go back to Adobe; and try to install again as a new program (stay away from Update).

7. Good luck.

8. When successful, don’t forget to go back and undo your Trusted Site settings.


Back to other matters...

As to security software: Get it. Install it. Use it. And keep those signature files updated.

Yes, there is free security software out there; but you must be careful where you get it.


And here is a Top Five List of password categories you should never use:

1. Any name (person/pet, place, or thing).

2. Any date.

3. Any single word.

4. Any number.

5. Anything utilizing contiguous key placement or patterns.

Yes, it is indeed a good idea to mix letters, use both lowercase and uppercase, as well as numbers, and special characters.

Old or New Windows PC / Computer Registry Cleanup

Among other things, the registry tells Windows where everything is on your system. Unfortunately, the registry does an absolutely horrible job of cleaning up after itself.

Location data is still stored on your registry for most every file you’ve ever deleted. Location data for where every file you’ve ever moved used to be is still stored. Location and other old/obsolete data are still in your registry for every software application you’ve changed, updated, moved, or uninstalled.

What this means is Windows has to sort through hundreds-to-thousands of dead, obsolete data points to get to the information it needs. There are free software utilities which will clean all that up with one click.

There are also registry edit utilities where you can manually go in and edit individual entries. It is recommended you avoid them. Registry data construction is finicky; one typo or other error can lockup your system beyond your ability to recover. You’ll have to take it to the computer repair shop.

Tune up, speed up old computer
Tune up, speed up old computer | Source

Old or New PC / Computer Fix and Tune Up Guide: Disk Defragmentation

When Windows copies files, it breaks it up into a hundred pieces or so and scatters it all over your hard drive; this is especially applicable to your larger files. Apparently Windows does this for its own entertainment.

What this means is every time your computer reads one of these files: the read-head must hop around to those same hundred spots to load the file. In other words, your hard drive is getting thrashed; and of course it slows things down.

What defragmentation does is rewrite each file as its own contiguous string of data.

After the defragmentation is done, the read-head can now position itself at just one or a few locations and just sit there and collect the information as the hard disk whirs by next to it.

Windows has a defrag utility available on your application menu under Program > Accessories > System Tools. There are much better free versions of this utility available elsewhere.

Remember to delete your Recycle Bin files, if so inclined, before the defrag.

Defragging after software updates/installs/uninstalls is always a good idea.

Doing a general defrag at least once a month is also recommended.

Performance enhancements for older computers.
Performance enhancements for older computers. | Source

Old or New PC / Computer Fix and Tune Up Guide: Monitor Modifications

Some monitors have a “Performance vs. Quality” attribute.

Go to “Control Panel” and then select the “Display” icon. You will have to plow through all the menu options to determine if your monitor has this setting or not.

The “Max Performance” setting uses more CPU/memory resources than the “Max Quality” setting. Only you can decide where the setting should be.

If you are using a CRT monitor, set the refresh rate to the highest setting (at least 75 Hz) to avoid eyestrain.

Free Windows PC / Computer Fix and Tune Up Guide: Available Applications, Software, Programs

As to security software, deleting temp files, deleting cookies, deleting obsolete user files, disabling unwanted startup programs, cleaning up the registry, defragging the disk, and stuff this article didn't even get around to mentioning; there are all sorts of free applications/software/programs out there which can do that for you. There are probably links to bunches of them right on this page. CNET is a reliable and respected resource.

Free PC / Computer Fix and Tune Up Guide: Odds and Ends

Yes, adding memory is always a good thing. Only perform this operation on a low-static-charge day. Do exactly as the instructions say; especially as to keeping yourself grounded to avoid static discharge. If you are non-tech or time/labor constrained, just take your computer to the local small computer shop. Don’t bother bringing the monitor, keyboard, etc.; just the computer. The chips will cost you more than at a big box store, but if they’re willing to put them in there for you at no additional charge, it’s probably worth it. Maybe call first.

Unplug your computer during thunderstorms, including your phone and/or internet connection. Power surges do occur and power-strip/surge-protectors aren’t all they’re cracked-up to be.

Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to defrag a couple times during the implementation of this list; same with registry cleanup.

An additional note regarding security. Virus and malware writers are ahead of the security companies. Really the only solution is to have two computers; one for the internet, and the second one for everything else. For many businesses and others, this is not a practical solution; but for most home users and some businesses, this is the way one should go.

Please share the above information so as to help others. The more people who are knowledgeable, the better off we all are. This especially applies as to everything having to do with computer security.


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    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 6 years ago from The Boondocks

      Very good information here. I'll be coming back to it in order to 'tune up my computer'! Thanks.

    • profile image

      rcmichelle 6 years ago

      SO sad, I want a program to solve my slow computer, now I'm trying tuneup360, waiting for the result.

    • Dee aka Nonna profile image

      Dee aka Nonna 6 years ago

      Thanks, I need this! Great information.

    • smcopywrite profile image

      smcopywrite 5 years ago from all over the web

      your article is more than useful and thank you for sharing some much useful information with us. voted up

    • profile image

      icons design 4 years ago

      Also that we would do without your remarkable idea


    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      It's time I ran a disk defrag. Thanks for the reminder and great tips on speeding up my old computer.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 14 months ago

      Good tips, thank you.

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