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HP PCs - Improving PC Performance (Windows 7)

This document is for HP and Compaq computers with Windows 7.
Use this document to help make Windows and other software perform better. The information below provides ways to improve system performance by making more resources available.
Common causes of slow system performance:
  • Not enough free disk space or disk errors.
  • Applications that require a lot of system resources.
  • Too many tasks running at the same time.
  • Nonessential graphic features.
  • Not enough memory.
  • Overheating due to intensive graphic applications or dust in vents.
  • Running multiple instances of anti-virus software.
HP SmartFriend is a support service that can help you troubleshoot slow performance and improve the speed of your computer (only available in the United States and Canada). For more information, see HP SmartFriend (in English).

Microsoft Fix it Solution to automatically improve system performance

To automatically improve system performance, use the Microsoft Fix it Solution. For more information, go to MS Fix It (in English).

Turning off nonessential graphical features to improve system performance

Graphical features and programs can use a lot of system resources. Turning off these features can improve system performance. This section explains how to adjust visual effects for best performance and how to disable Windows Aero.

Using HP Support Assistant to keep your computer running smoothly

HP recommends using HP Support Assistant on a regularly scheduled basis. Use this tool to keep your computer tuned up.
If you are not sure that you are using the latest version, download the current version of HP Support Assistant from the HP website.
If your computer does not support HP Support Assistant, skip to the next section for steps that do not involve HP Support Assistant.
Run HP Support Assistant to scan your computer and get the status of any available maintenance tasks. After the scan is complete, a list of maintenance tasks displays. Review and perform all the recommended actions.
Use the following steps to scan your computer with HP Support Assistant:
  1. From the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, double-click the HP Support Assistant icon .
  2. If applicable, on the Welcome to HP Support Assistant screen, choose the options you want, then click Next.
  3. From the HP Support Assistant My Devices screen, click Check for updates and messages.
    Check for updates and messages
    A screen showing the progress is displayed.
    Checking for updates and messages progress screen
  4. When the scan is complete, under Updates available, check the boxes next to all the available updates, then click Download and install.
    Updates available screen with update boxes checked and Download and install button highlighted
  5. Follow any onscreen instructions.
    The update process is now complete.

Performing system cleanup without using HP Support Assistant

A computer's hard disk drive can have a major effect on system performance. Over time the hard drive can become cluttered with unwanted or temporary files, the data can become fragmented and stored in an inefficient manner, or there may be disk errors on the drive itself. All of these issues can impact system performance, and all are easy to maintain. This section describes methods to maintain hard drive performance through removing unwanted and temporary files, checking the hard drive for errors, and defragmenting the drive.

Install critical Windows updates

If your computer's software and drivers are not up to date, system performance can decrease. Follow the steps in Updating Drivers and Software with Windows Update (Windows 10, 8, 7) to install critical Windows updates and improve your system's performance.

Removing viruses and spyware with Microsoft Security Essentials

If the computer is performing slowly after connecting to the Internet, adware or spyware programs might be installed. Spyware and adware software programs use the Internet to download and upload data in the background. Some of this data might be sensitive information or unwanted advertising. Removing these malicious programs will improve the performance of your system. For more information, see Computer Might Be Infected by a Virus or Malware (Windows 10, 8).
Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download for all computers running a genuine version of Windows. It provides protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Information on downloading and using Microsoft Security Essentials can be found in the document Using Microsoft Security Essentials to Protect Against Viruses and Spyware.

Managing applications to improve system performance

Having unused applications installed to the hard drive, or leaving applications running when not being used, can both have a negative impact on system performance. This section describes how to remove unwanted applications and close applications that are not in use.

Managing startup programs by preventing background programs from loading

A startup program is software that opens when Windows opens. Over time, as you install more and more software programs, the number of small icons on the notification area increases (usually these icons are in the lower-right corner, next to the time). Each of these small pictures represents a program running in the background, and each one uses valuable system resources. Move the mouse pointer over each icon to identify what software it is. Common programs that load and run in the background are security software, Windows Update, instant messaging software, and multimedia programs. You can increase system resources by stopping some of these tasks from loading, or by changing their settings. This can be achieved in a variety of ways because these programs open from various different places.
This section describes how to remove unwanted startup programs using System Configuration and the Startup folder.

Adjusting System Restore settings

System Restore is a feature of Windows that can revert system software and settings back to a particular date. System Restore does this by saving the changes made to system files in a restore point. These restore points use a lot of hard drive space. System Restore uses up to four percent of the hard drive with restore points if left unadjusted, regardless of the size of the hard drive.
If you are experiencing system problems and may need to restore your computer to an earlier time, DO NOT remove the restore points.
Selecting Turn off system protection will prevent the system from creating future restore points. You cannot restore the hard drive without restore points.
The following sections describe how to reduce the hard drive space system restore uses and how to manually create a restore point.

Reducing heat inside the PC to improve performance

Heat buildup can cause problems for any computer. Generally, when temperatures inside the case rise above 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius), the risk of damaging important internal components increases greatly. The most common cause of overheating is the accumulation of dust inside the computer. The electrical components in a computer generate heat and fans inside the computer help move the air to keep the components cooled to normal operating temperatures. Inadequate cooling can cause excess heat to build up inside the case which can damage components and decrease system performance. The sound of the fan running constantly might indicate that the computer is not running as efficiently as possible and that there is a problem with accumulated dust clogging the air vents.

Video about reducing heat inside your notebook computer

Video about reducing heat inside your desktop computer

Follow these steps to reduce the risk of your computer overheating.
  1. Computers have vents located around the case to allow air to flow through the case. If these vents become clogged or heat generating parts become covered with dust, the fan cannot cool the components properly and overheating can become a problem. Lint and dust accumulation prevents air from flowing around the cooling fins and causes the fan to work harder. If there is dust in the vents, you should clean the computer by blowing out the dust from around the fan and heat shield. This prevents dust from accumulating.
    Ensure that the computer is turned off and the AC adapter is disconnected before spraying with compressed air to prevent damage to the PC.
    Use a can of compressed air (a vacuum cleaner on blow function or a hair dryer in cool air mode can also be used, though the can of compressed air is better suited for this task) to remove dust from the computer's vents and prevent overheating. Removing the dust increases the air flow to improve cooling and allows the fan to run quieter.
    The cooling vents are located in various places depending on the PC model. You can identify the vents by looking for the copper or black fins inside the vents. You should also blow the compressed air into other openings such as the fan intake vent to help keep the air circulating and prevent dust from accumulating on components. By taking this action periodically as a preventive measure, you can greatly reduce the possibility of component damage and prevent the slowdown of the computer's performance.
    Blowing air into the side vent on a notebook
    For more information on cleaning your notebook PC, go to Cleaning Your Notebook PC.
  2. To decrease the likelihood of overheating problems, make sure the fans on your computer can ventilate properly. Keep the computer upright and on a sturdy, level surface, and provide at least 15.25 centimeters (6 inches) of clearance around each vent.
  3. If your computer is overheating, place it in a cooler room. A small difference in temperature might be all that is needed to prevent a component from failing. Move the computer to a cooler room in the house or office. If this is not an option, continue with the next step.
  4. If overheating issues persist after cleaning the vents and moving the computer to a cooler room, a hardware component might be damaged. Test the computer to see if any hardware, such as memory, the processor, or the graphics hardware, have failed. Most HP and Compaq notebook computers have diagnostic software to verify hardware failures. For more information, go to Testing for Hardware Failures.
    If hardware has failed, either replace the bad component or contact HP for further assistance.

Upgrade memory

Upgrading memory can improve system performance. You can upgrade random-access memory (RAM) on most HP and Compaq notebook computers. Refer to the manual of your computer model to find out if your RAM can be upgraded.
For step-by-step instructions on upgrading RAM, see the help document HP Notebook PCs - Upgrading Memory (RAM) or HP Desktop PCs - Upgrading Memory (RAM).

Perform an HP System Recovery

If the above steps did not improve the slow system performance issues on your computer, reinstall the operating system to factory settings. Go to Performing an HP System Recovery (Windows 7) for instructions.

Recommended maintenance schedule

To free resources and keep the computer running correctly, follow a maintenance schedule as listed below.
Recommended maintenance schedule
Daily tasks
Weekly tasks
Monthly tasks
Quarterly tasks
Manage e-mail
  • Delete e-mail from unknown sources.
  • Do not open attachments that you do not trust.
  • Organize e-mail.
Protect against viruses, adware, and spyware
  • Update definition files or schedule a weekly automatic update.
  • Run a full virus, adware, and spyware scan or schedule a weekly automatic scan.
Use Windows Update
Check for updates or schedule a monthly automatic update.
Set new passwords
Optimize system performance
Review the Start menu
Clean the computer, monitor, keyboard, and mouse
Use a portable vacuum to remove dust and debris from ventilation areas.
Clean up Web browser files
  • Delete cookies.
  • Delete cache.
  • Delete history files.
Clean up the desktop
Delete or remove unneeded icons and software programs.






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