SSD vs SATA: Should you upgrade?

If you have a computer that is starting to slow down, you may be thinking that it is time for a new one. However, before you make the decision to purchase new, it is worth at least considering an upgrade. The first thing I would look at is the RAM. If you are able to add significant capacity for a low cost, you may be able to get a few more years out of your aging PC. By significant capacity, I am talking at least 1 GB if not more. However, if you aren’t able to add much more RAM, you may want to consider an SSD drive. Also, if you do decide to purchase a new PC, this article can help you decide if you want your new PC to have an SSD drive.

I was reading an article from computer world recently. This article is a bit dated, but proves a good point, that SSD technology is much faster than SATA technology. In this article, computer world is able to show that the SSD started up 100% faster, restarted almost 50% faster, and had read/write times that were double as fast as the SATA drive.  This article was written a few years ago and SSD speeds have only improved in the recent years. By contrast, SATA drives have seen little improvement in recent years.  Also, SSD drive prices are still high, but they have come down quite a bit over the past year or so. Due to all these factors, you may want to consider an upgrade if you think this will bring your computer back up to speed. For me personally, I would consider this if my PC had at least 2GB of RAM and a multi-core processor.  If my current PC specs were below this threshold, I would opt for a new PC. Hopefully this can help you decide if an upgrade is worth the money and effort.

If you do decide for a new PC, I would recommend going for a SSD drive for your primary OS drive and then adding a large, cheap SATA drive for your file storage and non-essential programs. This will really allow Windows to work quickly.

This was a guest post from the authors at Dom’s Tech Blog, feel free to check out 9 free ways to fix a slow computer which may help you further with your aging PC.

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7 Ways to Speed Up Windows 7

Windows 7 is the most demanding Windows operating system to date. It requires at least 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of hard drive space, and recommends a multi-core processor. Due to these tough requirements, it could help you out to tweak Windows 7 to run more efficiently.

Disable Visual Effects

The visual effects in Windows 7 are nice and add to the experience. They aren’t that great if your computer is running really slowly though.  To get a speed boost, you can use the steps below to disable the visual effect.

  • Locate and right click on “Computer” and then select “Properties”.
  • Click on “Advanced System Settings”.
  • In the new window that just opened up, select the “Advanced” tab in it.
  • Next, Under “Performance”, click on “Settings”. Choose “Custom:” Options from it.
  • Next, uncheck all of the options and select only the last four options.
  • Click Save and then restart your computer. Keep in mind you can always undo what you just did.

Disable the Aero Theme

The Aero theme is another cosmetic improvement in Windows 7. However, it can really slow the PC down. The Aero user interface really taxes your graphics card and your CPU. If you need the extra speed, then it is not a bad idea to disable it.

  • Right Click on your Desktop and select “Personalize”.
  • Click the Window Color Tab.
  • Uncheck the Box that says “Enable Transparency” and then click on “Open classic appearance properties for more color options”.
  • Next, a window will open up.
  • Apply either the Standard or Basic theme from it. We would recommend the Standard theme.

Defragment Your Hard Drive

If you haven’t defragmented your hard drive in a while, you should take the time to do this. You can get to this by clicking start, in the search box type “defragment”, and then by clicking on the defragmentation tool.

Have a USB drive sitting around? Use Windows ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost is a feature in Windows 7 that allows you to add system memory by connecting a flash drive. If you are on the low-end when it comes to memory, this is a good thing to try. Keep in mind that it is better to just buy more memory then to go out and buy a flash drive for this only.

Clean the Hard Drive

Windows 7 needs a certain amount of free disk space to function properly. Moving or deleting old programs, files, and folders can help your hard drive run more efficiently.

Stop Unneeded Programs from Automatically Starting Up

You can make your Windows 7 machine run faster by only starting up programs as they are needed.  There are probably quite a few unneeded programs that you didn’t even know were opening at startup. To manage windows startup, click start, type “msconfig” in the search box, hit the enter key, and click on the startup tab. From here you can disable programs that you don’t want Windows to automatically start up.

Turn Off Desktop Gadgets

Every Gadget you add requires system resources to run. You can turn some or all of these gadgets off. Turn them off by typing “gadgets” into the start menu search bar, choose “View list of running gadgets” and then select each gadget you want to get rid of and click Remove.

Auslogics BoostSpeed 5

We recently got emailed by one of our readers about Auslogics BoostSpeed 5 when it comes to fixing a slow PC. We thought this was a blog-worthy topic and figured we would take the time to give Auslogics BoostSpeed a test run. Before we get to into the article, we wanted to note that you can find Auslogics BoostSpeed here.

Download and Install Process

We went to the auslogics website and downloaded the software. The download and install process was very easy and quick. The download is about a 8.2 MB file.

Auslogics BoostSpeed Scan

Right after the install process is finished, we are giving a recommendation to scan. The scanner looks like it is looking for 4 specific issues: registry errors, junk files, disk errors, and fragmentation. The scanner finds quite a few issues on the test computer. In fact, in found over 3,000 items that it could fix.  One thing we want to point out is that the scan is free. The program will also fix the first 15 problems for free. We purchased the full version so we could test though, so we are able to fix all 3,000 problems.

Results

After we scanned and fixed the issues, we noticed that our test machine was a bit zippier. We also noticed that the program was able to free up some memory. Overall, we were pretty impressed with the job that Auslogics BoostSpeed did. One thing that we do want to note is that if you are a computer super user, you will probably be able to do a lot of the tasks that Auslogics BoostSpeed does on your own. For example, you can manually try to find and remove junk files. You can also defrag on your own as well. However, doing these tasks individually will take you much more time when compared to a commercial software. There are a few exceptions of things that you can’t do on your own such as cleaning the registry though.

System Advisor

Another cool feature that we liked in Auslogics BoostSpeed 5 was the System Advisor. The system advisor gave many specific suggestions to our test PC’s version of Windows on how to further speed up the computer. One example is that it gave the option to disable the Aero effects in Windows 7. For those who don’t know, the Aero effects are the visual effects that add to the look and feel of Windows 7. However, for older computers, it can really help to disable these effects since they use a lot of system resources. This is just one example of a suggestion that Auslogics BoostSpeed gave. There were many more suggestions as well. Again, we do want to point out that for an advanced user, you can find a way to do many of these tasks on your own. However, this tool can save you time and the headache of possibly messing something up. A lot of the things Auslogics BoostSpeed does requires you to mess with system settings.

Conclusion

Overall, we found Auslogics BoostSpeed to be very good and would definitely recommend it for users experiencing a slow PC. We do want to point out that this software is not free. We also want to reiterate that you can do many of the tasks yourself if you have extra time and if you feel comfortable messing with the settings of your computer.

You can Download the Free Trial of Auslogics BoostSpeed Here

Computer Maintenance Schedule

I was asked by a few of my readers lately about what my monthly, or even weekly, computer maintenance schedule looked like. I figured this was a blog-worthy topic. Let’s dive right into what a good computer maintenance schedule looks like.

Weekly PC Maintenance Tasks

There are a few things that should be done on a weekly basis for sure. The first, and probably most important, is to run a virus scan. I would highly recommend setting up some type of automated schedule in your virus protection software so you don’t forget to do this. I personally like to do Friday at lunch for my work PC. This way I am not disrupted by the scan too much.

Another task I would recommend doing weekly or biweekly is defragmenting your hard drive. This will keep your hard drive running efficiently at all times and keep fragmentation at a minimum.

Monthly Computer Maintenance Tasks

There are things that should be done on a monthly basis as well. I like to run a spyware scan monthly to make sure my computer stays spyware free. This is something that could be done more often if you would like. I would recommend Ad-Aware as a good, free spyware scanner.

Another good task to do monthly is cleaning up your disk when it comes to unused programs, folders, and files. I like to delete temporary files and cookies, check to see if I have any unused programs I can delete, and check to see if I have any old docs, videos, pictures, etc that I can delete. Cleaning up your disk monthly can help keep your disk usage low and your hard drive running efficiently.

One last thing I like to do monthly is to clean my registry. This is something that I would consider optional. This is a debated topic as some people say it does wonders and other people think it is not worth the risk. The risk being you could delete a needed registry key. Most registry cleaners backup your registry before cleaning, which should cut down or even eliminate any risk. I personally have not had any problems when using a registry cleaner. Also, I have tested it using performance monitoring tools and noticed that it does help performance a bit. I personally use Registry Booster. However, there are many good registry cleaners on the market.

Windows ReadyBoost – How to Use It and a Performance Analysis

Windows ReadyBoost is a cool feature that is newer and only available in Windows 7 and Windows Vista. You plug in a USB flash drive and then Windows can use the flash memory to increase its memory size since flash memory is faster than most hard drives. If your computer is running slow, enabling ReadyBoost could be a good thing to try if you have a USB stick sitting around.

How to Enable ReadyBoost

Turning on Windows ReadyBoost is super easy. Just take your flash drive and plug it in to your PC. After you do this, Windows should pop up a message asking how you want to use the flash drive. Click on the option that says “Speed up my system Using Windows ReadyBoost”. That is it. Keep in mind that you will not be able to use any space that you give to ReadyBoost.

If the ReadyBoost popup did not come up automatically for you, then you may have disabled the ReadyBoost service. Click on Start -> Type services.msc into the search box, hit enter, and then check the ReadyBoost service to make sure it is enabled.

Analyzing ReadyBoost Performance

Generally speaking, ReadyBoost helps your computer’s performance a lot more when it comes to tasks that are not CPU intensive. So, application load/close times, application switching times, etc saw the most improvement. AmandTech performed a benchmarking test which can be found here.

In their test, they found that adding 1 GB worth of ReadyBoost flash memory took seconds off of different application load and close tests. For example, using 512 RAM + 1 GB ReadyBoost, they were able to open Adobe Photoshop CS3 13 seconds faster. This is a nice improvement.

More RAM is always Better

Not matter how you look at the performance tests by AmandTech, the bottom line is that adding more memory is the better thing to do. Just by adding another 512 MB of RAM, they were able to cut load times of Photoshop by 26 seconds. Compare this to the 13 seconds cut by using 1 GB of ReadyBoost. So, you if you don’t a flash drive sitting around and you are looking for more performance, upgrading your memory is the way to go. However, if you already have a flash stick sitting around that is not being used, you might as well put it to good use and boost your PC’s performance.

Slow Running PC? Think about Adding Memory

So, your computer has been running really slowly lately and you have been thinking about getting a new one. Before you scrap your old computer, you should give some consideration to upgrading your memory. This is especially true if you mainly use your computer for email, web browsing, and Microsoft Office.

Many of the newer programs use more and more resources, particularly hard drive space and RAM. If you have never upgraded your memory for your current computer, you may be able to bring it back up to speed with a simple memory upgrade.

First, I recommend running the Crucial Memory Adviser. This tool from Crucial will scan your computer and let you know your current memory setup and how much memory you can add. If you have less than 2GB of memory and you are able to bring your system memory up to or greater than 2 GB of memory, then a memory upgrade may really be able to help you regain computer speed.

Installing Memory is Pretty Easy

The great thing about a memory upgrade is that is very easy to execute on your own, even if you don’t feel that comfortable digging inside your computer case. Generally, you just need to unplug the computer, take of the cover, and snap in the new memory.  Here is a full guide on installing memory for more help.

Memory is Inexpensive

Another great thing about a memory upgrade is that generally it is a pretty cheap upgrade when considering the amount of performance you can get out of this upgrade. When I look to upgrade a computer, I usually try to see what kind of upgrade I can get for under $100. If I can’t add that much memory for under $100, then I may think about a new computer. However, if I am able to go from 1 GB to 4GB for $100 or less, for example, then I would do this before buying a new PC. There have been many times when I have been able to help a friend or family memory improve their PC performance significantly for less than $50. I would consider this well worth it when the alternative is a new PC for hundreds of dollars.

Tools to Defrag Your Hard Drive

The hard drive is one of the slowest pieces of hardware on a computer. It is ideal to keep the hard drive running as efficiently as possible One easy and great way to keep the hard drive running well is to defragment your hard drive regularly. In this article, we will be looking at tools you can use to defragment your computer’s hard drive.

Windows Defrag Tool

The Windows Defragmentation tool comes with Windows, does a good job, and is easy to use. To Defragment your hard drive, open up “My Computer”, Right Click on C:, Click properties, Click the “Tools” Tab, Click “Defragment Now”, Click Defragment, click OK. That is it. The great thing about the Windows tool is that it is built-in and super easy to find and use.

Defraggler

Defraggler is a great tool by piriform. This tool is free and easy to use. In my opinion, it also does a better job than the Windows Defragmentation tool. It has many cool features such as a way to defrag free space and a cool tool visualizing space usage on your hard drive and in memory. You can find defraggler at http://www.piriform.com/defraggler.

Auslogics Disk Defrag

The last tool we will talk about is Disk Defrag from Auslogics. This is another great tool. It is easy to use and also is free for home use. We also thought this utility did a bit better than the Windows defrag tool. It was quicker and had more features that the Windows built-in tool. You can find it at http://www.auslogics.com/en/software/disk-defrag/.

No matter what tool you use, it is crucial to defrag your hard drive often. I would recommend doing this at least monthly. If you have not defragged in awhile, it may be worth defragging multiple times in a row, especially if you are using the Windows tool. This will help keep your computer from running slow.

Why is my computer so slow?

Computers can seem to run slow for many reasons.  However, their are many things a user can try to determine the nature of the slowness and what factors are causing it.

Computers that are very old can be expected to seem slow next to a brand new system.  However, an older system can be optimized to perform to the best of its ability.

Here are a few common places to look for the reason your computer is slow:

  • Lack of Memory
  • Hard drive is too full
  • Hard drive is too fragmented
  • You have a Virus
  • You have some spyware that is slowing your system down
  • You have your settings up too high

I will elaborate on the above places in the future and give tips on how to determine if you have a problem.

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