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Rejuvenating Your PC for Free: Speeding Up Your Windows Computer

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This tutorial continues Eric Geier's discussion and walk-through of techniques to make your PC healthier. You'll see exactly how you can increase your computer's performance, without spending a dime.
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Our first installment of this series stepped you through ways you can free up disk space, reduce your digital clutter, and safeguard your files and system.

This article will continue helping you on your mission to rejuvenate your PC for free. You'll discover several techniques to remove any infections your PC is plagued by and other ways to speed up your computer.

Ridding Your PC of Spyware, Adware, and Viruses

Before performing any speed-enhancing techniques or upgrading your computer, the first item on the list should be making sure your computer isn't infected with any type of virus or malware. Spyware, adware, viruses, and their variants can rob your PC of power, hijack your Web browser or other applications, and destroy files. Even if you haven't noticed a big dip in performance, you should scan for and remove any detected infections before moving on.

You always have the option of purchasing anti-virus and other anti-infection software, but you can typically get away with using freeware tools. You'll often find you need to scan your system with multiple tools in order to catch all the parasites. Here's a list of applications you may want to look into for your arsenal:

You need to make sure that you scan for both viruses and spyware/adware; plus you should always have a firewall application (for example, Windows Firewall) enabled and protecting your computer from hackers and Internet invasions.

The bulleted list above shows one anti-virus application (AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition), one firewall utility (ZoneAlarm), and the others are primarily spyware/adware scanners.

Keep in mind that you should have real-time protection enabled for only one application for viruses, one for spyware/adware, and one for firewall. You don't want multiple programs always scanning your system. However it's all right if you scan with multiple tools consecutively.

If you are experiencing a noticeable drop in performance, a certain error, or other symptom you think may be caused by an infection, you can get free one-on-one help from one of many Web sites. Typically these Web sites post a bulletin message (a sticky) that will instruct you to run certain tools and post your logs to the discussion forum.

Once a volunteer looks over your logs and your symptoms, he or she will give you more tasks to do until your problem is solved. Here are a few sites that might be able to give you a hand:

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