Improve Your Computer's Performance

15.3.2012
If you're using Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 and are seeing decreasing performance but don't know what direction to take to improve the situation, take a look at Windows Task Manager. To get there, right-click on your task bar and select Task Manager or click Start > Run and type taskmgr.exe and press <Enter>. The graphic shown here is the Performance tab of Windows Task Manager.

There are two basic areas displayed in this view: CPU and Page File. The CPU graph will show how much of your CPU (e.g. Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo, AMD E-450, etc.) is being used to support your Operating System and currently running programs and processes. The second area relates to memory utilization, typically RAM (512 Megabytes, 1 Gigabyte, etc.).

Either graph is displaying essentially a zero to n capacity for your CPU and Memory. As you can see from the graph below, the CPU usage line is very close to the top of the graph throughout the plotted time. This suggests that my CPU is working very hard, nearly 100%. If my computer seems really slow and CPU is constantly and regularly near 100% on this graph, then I should either upgrade the CPU or run fewer programs to see if that helps.

In the following graph for Memory, you can see that the line is continually well below the top half. This suggests that I have adequate memory to perform the tasks currently running.

If the Page File line is continually near the top in this graph when operating the computer as you normally would, you'd benefit from adding memory to your system. Most computers can support memory upgrades which is fairly cheap these days ($150 and less). However, you must match memory to your specific computer. Not all memory is alike! Also, in some instances, your existing memory must be removed (possibly to only be thrown out) to make room for larger memory modules which need to be installed in the currently occupied location(s).

Both of these upgrades are fairly simple and should improve your everyday experience with your computer. You may also want to compare the upgrade expenses versus buying a new system. Either way you should be on your way to a much more enjoyable user experience.