From time to time, geeks and people who care about the speed of their system perform a "clean install". This process is the PC equivalent of open heart surgery, where you backup your data, and then intentionally wipe your C:, and reinstall Windows again. Why do we do it? Because with the same hardware specs, a clean install of Windows runs many times faster.
Unfortunately, the risk of accidentally deleting something, or the time and hassle it takes to perform this process, means that most people suffer through slow boot times and a sluggish system. But what happens to your system from clean install to now that slows it down, and is there a way you can fix your machine with some keyhole surgery instead?
As time goes by, most people install more and more software on their system. Often it is shareware, or a tool required to play a certain type of media file (e.g., QuickTime). This software often "helpfully" configures itself to start every time your machine boots up - usually just so their logo and marketing get in your face, not to help you out - and the result is a computer that can take a long time to get going in the morning, with performance reduced by all the parasites hanging off it in the taskbar.
Thankfully, Microsoft have provided a neat little tool for helping you take control of what your computer does when it boots up, as well as other performance configuration options. Known as msconfig, this simple utility allows you to reconfigure your system options using a point and click interface.
To use this tool, go to "Start > Run" and type in msconfig into the box before hitting "OK". The console will open up. As this tool can be a little intimidating to the non-technical to start with, we recommend you go straight to the "startup" tab on the far right. This tab gives you a list of programs that are set to start automatically when your system boots up.
By un-ticking boxes, you can set parts of your system not to start up by default. Un-ticking options does not delete them, so if you make a mistake, and find that your email or antivirus won't work after you un-ticked them, you can always go back in and re-tick them.
To enact the changes, simply press, OK, restart, and voila - less stuff to start and run will make your machine go faster!