Speeding up a new PC

Published 30 Aug 2010 in Software by ZigPress

This post is not about overclocking (changing hardware settings to increase the speed of your processor) – there are plenty of places on the web that talk about how to overclock various PCs.

I’m talking about the situation where you buy a new laptop or PC, boot it up for the first time, and find that it doesn’t seem quite as fast as you had hoped. Not only that, it has a whole load of software installed that you’re not sure if you need, and which seems to take an age to start.

Three core applications

There are three core applications that almost everyone needs on their PC: a good antivirus program, a program that lets you view PDF documents, and a program that lets you zip and unzip files and folders.

When you buy a new PC, the chances are that the antivirus program installed is a limited-time edition of one of the famous ones, e.g. Norton or McAfee. Not only will this stop updating after a period of time (unless you pay a fee), but it is probably slowing down your PC more than such a program should (Norton and McAfee are probably the worst offenders in fact).

You’ll probably also find that Adobe Reader has been installed. This is a huge application (in terms of the amount of disk space, memory and processing time it uses), when you consider that all it does is one thing – displays PDF documents.

And finally, your PC manufacturer has probably not installed any software to handle zipping and unzipping, because recent versions of Windows include basic functionality to do this.

Out with the old, in with the new

By replacing your antivirus program and Adobe Reader with smaller, faster, free alternatives, and adding a free zip/unzip program, you will not only speed up your PC, but you actually gain better zip/unzip functionality as well.

avast! Free Antivirus

avast! Free AntivirusThere are two really popular antivirus programs available for Windows PCs: avast! (the exclamation mark is part of the name) and AVG. Over the years, experience of using both has taught me that avast! is faster and also offers better protection (it protects against rootkit viruses, AVG does not) – the only downside is that you can’t schedule scans so you must remember to manually start a scan on a regular basis.

To replace your PC’s supplied antivirus program with avast!, you should first make sure your Windows Firewall is running, then download the avast! installer to your desktop from the avast! download page, then uninstall your existing antivirus using the control panel. It’s best to uninstall all items from the same brand (e.g. if your PC came with McAfee antivirus, make sure all programs from McAfee that show in the control panel are uninstalled).

Then reboot your PC and install avast!. You need to enter your email address once a year to keep the program working. Again, speaking from several years’ experience, this does NOT generate any spam.

Foxit Reader

Foxit ReaderThis is a lovely little program which lets you view and print PDF documents, and is much smaller and faster than Adobe Reader. Simply uninstall Adobe Reader from the control panel, reboot, download the latest version of Foxit Reader from the Foxit download page, and install it. Job done.

7-Zip

7-ZipThis gem of a program gives you more flexibility when dealing with compressed archive files (ZIP, RAR, etc) than the basic features available in Windows. Simply download from the 7-Zip download page, install and go. If you’re not sure which link to click on the download page, use the first one.

Speed and Satisfaction

Having done all of the above, you should find that your PC boots a little faster (thanks to avast!), runs a little faster, has a little more disk space free, and you also have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve improved its performance without spending any money whatsoever. :)

Et tu, browser?

I can’t resist mentioning at this point that if you take your PC’s performance and security seriously, you should change your web browser program as well. You don’t have to uninstall Internet Explorer (in fact you can’t), but all you have to do is pick a better browser program, install it, and when it asks you if you want it to be the default browser, say yes.

My own recommendation is Google Chrome, but you can’t go far wrong with Firefox either. Both are much faster – and safer – than Internet Explorer.

Note: any action you take as a result of reading this article is at your own risk and I assume no responsibility for any problems that may arise as a result.

30 Comments

  1. On 30 Aug 2010 at 12:24, Josh H said:

    Hi there ZigPress,
    while I have never used Foxit Reader, I have used both 7-Zip and Avast! From these experiences I completely concur with your views. I think Avast! is so good in fact, that it is the only Anti-Virus application I ever recommend. For zipping personally I use gzip, though I must profess, this isn’t the most user-friendly, being a command line tool.

    Oh, and to say I agree with your views regarding internet browsers, would be a rather large understatement! Thanks for an excellent post.

  2. On 30 Aug 2010 at 17:11, Kent said:

    I use Firefox/Opera, AVG, CCleaner, Spybot, Ad-aware.. My PC is superfast! :)

  3. On 30 Aug 2010 at 21:13, Cris R said:

    Funny, I never used Avast or 7-zip, but I have used Fox-it.

    Fox-it is great but I need to create PDF’s as well. I used their PDF creator and I wasn’t too impressed.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you about Norton or McAfee. They are giant pieces of junk that slow down your computer. They even make it difficult to uninstall them.

  4. On 31 Aug 2010 at 04:00, Andrew said:

    Wow! This is really important information me! I’ve been wanting my pc to load faster. I’ve tried uninstalling some programs I really don’t need, I even disabled some startup items. I have bookmarked this page and will definitely try this. Thanks for sharing this information!

  5. On 31 Aug 2010 at 09:57, ZigPress said:

    @Cris R: you can create PDFs using both Open Office and Photoshop – between the two of them, they cover so many document types that you may find you don’t need to buy Adobe Acrobat.

  6. On 01 Sep 2010 at 19:27, David said:

    Great list of programs, I’m a big fan of the ones you listed below. Also love VLC Media Player and Advanced System Care.

  7. On 02 Sep 2010 at 14:47, Reasoned Rants said:

    Nice article – but you should do one on some more kinds of software where using a free replacement helps your computer’s speed – like, office software, photo software, etc.

  8. On 02 Sep 2010 at 20:10, Engagement Ring said:

    I thought I was the only one that noticed the slowness of my new PC. I hate Internet Explorer and haven’t used it for years. I really like Firefox and Apple’s Safari. They run much faster than IE ever did. I also can’t stand those anti-virus software apps. They’re so expensive and never seem to help. Thanks for the tips on the freebie alternates.

  9. On 03 Sep 2010 at 02:03, Colin said:

    I’ve been using AVG free for a while now. It works great.
    My trial version of WinZip just ran out, I’m using 7-zip now-another great program.
    I need to show this post to my grandmother haha. She barely knows anything about computers and just recently got one.

  10. On 05 Sep 2010 at 20:12, Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa said:

    I use Avast on all my computers, and have never had a Virus, ever! Thanks for the tips on the other programs to speed up my computers!

  11. On 07 Sep 2010 at 09:30, Brian said:

    Good stuff. I was actually already using 7zip and foxit, but Ive never actually used avast. I dont use any protection program right now, and have never actually had a virus on my computer.

  12. On 09 Sep 2010 at 07:35, leila said:

    I’m not so fortunate I must say because I learned the hard way. It took a lengthy conversation with the tech guy to make me see the light so now I use firefox and avast, must say I’m impressed.

  13. On 11 Sep 2010 at 11:58, techie said:

    well i think avg is better than avast

  14. On 11 Sep 2010 at 12:56, Peter Novman said:

    This is sound advice, having a lightweight PDF reader is a must, especially as that format is quickly becoming the standard for document scans. Resource-hungry anti-virus programs are the usual culprits for most “slow computer” cases I’ve seen. For some reason, a lot of people leave resource-hungry anti-virus programs set to run on startup, even after they’ve upgraded to a lighter program. As you mentioned, it is imperative to either uninstall such old software, or at least disable them in msconfig. Great post!

  15. On 11 Sep 2010 at 18:06, John said:

    Avast is an excellent program, though its updates do seem to happen almost every day and take some time.
    I have not tried the Zip program but it looks intersting.

  16. On 12 Sep 2010 at 21:36, Kristian said:

    My suggestion is to get rid of Windows and install Ubuntu instead. I did it a year ago and am very happy with it. You can download it to an usb stick and try it without risking you Windows installation.

  17. On 13 Sep 2010 at 08:40, Morshedul Arefin said:

    I use 7zip and foxit reader because they are very fast working. 7zip can compress very well.
    But i think Avira is the best free antivirus. Its my idea. I posted a detailed analysis to my blog about all the antivirus. Please check this link: http://arifcseku.blogspot.com/2010/09/which-antivirus-is-best-at-present-time.html

  18. On 13 Sep 2010 at 10:48, ZigPress said:

    To those who prefer AVG to Avast – if you’re going to stick with AVG, make sure you also install some software that will detect and remove rootkit viruses – because AVG doesn’t (that’s the main reason I chose Avast).

  19. On 18 Sep 2010 at 14:42, Fifth Third online banking said:

    Glad to see that this site works well on my Google phone , everything I want to do is functional. Thanks for keeping it up to date with the latest.

  20. On 23 Sep 2010 at 06:06, hutzero said:

    Foxit Reader is faster than Adobe Reader very much.
    Google Chome is good but It have many problem for my language (Thai).

  21. On 28 Sep 2010 at 22:44, Francis said:

    I am using most of the applications you are recommending. I agree with you on avast! and 7-Zip though my choice for the PDF reader goes to PDF XChange Viewer which has some useful features such as the snapshot tool.

  22. On 29 Sep 2010 at 23:32, Henri Labelle said:

    I’m already using Avast on some of the old computers I’m working on. It’s also installed on my mom’s pc and it’s working just fine. Very light on RAM also!

    I will download and try 7-zip right now :) Thanks!

  23. On 07 Oct 2010 at 12:14, Computer Specialist said:

    I use Foxit and it is faster than Adobe, 7-zip is good as well but I can’t leave Winrar :( . The antivirus that I’m testing now is Avira Antivir, it is quite fast but still I don’t know if it is powerfull like Avast or Avg.

  24. On 14 Oct 2010 at 07:54, Nurseries Dubai said:

    7-zip is the best freeware.. i use and recommend kespersky..need your suggestion is kaspersky good or avast?

  25. On 30 Oct 2010 at 22:10, Charleston Photographer said:

    I use foxit because I don’t get as many errors as Adobe when I try and print. Adobe either gives me an error right off the bat or after i’ve been using it for awhile. I love foxit and wouldn’t use anything else.

  26. On 09 Nov 2010 at 10:45, Sandro said:

    I love Avast and I also use Foxit. Have not tried 7zip as I have Winrar, which is not bad. Avast 5 is really good, works like a charm, and it’s lighter on the system than many other antiviruses. Foxit is a lot faster than the elephant-like Adobe, and i believe it’s on the top of other pdf readers around.

  27. On 23 Nov 2010 at 15:59, Andrew Reynolds said:

    Why do pc’s slow down? With all the tech these days you’d think they could install a program that would stop processor hungry apps from taking your pc over.

  28. On 02 Feb 2011 at 09:00, Ray said:

    My pc came with norton and it seems fairly fast compared to earlier versions I’ve had in the past. Avast is a decent free one though. Some of these new pc’s have so much extra software on them they are annoying. Always reminding you this or that. Getting rid of some are easy, while others not so easy and almost a nightmare.

  29. On 15 Feb 2011 at 19:56, mojo said:

    I cannot say how much I love 7zip, that program just kicks butt. Better then any other file compressor/decompressor out there!

  30. On 21 Jun 2013 at 11:29, Videochat said:

    I use Tuneup Utilities to optimize and speed up my pc, it’s working great and easy to use. For zip files you don’t need a software to unzip.. windows can do that.