Microsoft Windows 7 is already a much more responsive operating system than its predecessors, but there are tweaks and changes you can make to speed up Windows 7 even more. By reading this list and implementing some of the suggestions, you can increase performance in a very short period of time.

1. Boost your RAM

Windows 7 is very efficient at using your memory and adding another stick of RAM can give a big performance boost at very little cost. 4GB is plenty for most 64-bit users, and 3GB is a sensible limit for 32-bit users.

If you do more intensive work such as CAD or video editing then added even more than 4GB RAM may be a sensible idea. However it should be noted that simply adding lots of extra memory will not continue to improve overall performance, the bottleneck depends on other components (such as your CPU and hard drive).

2. Switch to SSD

Using a Solid State Drive is going to provide a performance boost in almost all Windows 7 applications, especially when it comes to boot times. SSD’s have no moving parts and therefore are silent and more energy efficient, with the benefit of much faster access times.

The current generation of mechanical hard drives will be obsolete in the coming years, but for the time being SSDs are quite expensive. If you have the money and a high end system to improve upon, this would be an excellent choice.

3. Install the Correct Version of Windows 7

If you have a high end PC with over 3GB of ram then you should be using the 64-bit version of Windows in most cases. Limitations of 32-bit hardware/software will prevent the use of all the memory a little past the 3GB mark, so you could be wasting the potential of your RAM

4. Keep your System Drivers Updated

Updating your main system drivers (graphics card, chipset, audio, etc...) will make sure you get the most from any performance enhancements and bug fixes. Graphics card drivers can sometimes provide large boosts to game performance. As Windows 7 is relatively new, driver improvements will be frequent.

Windows Update will provide periodic driver updates for many hardware items, but it is worth bookmarking your graphics driver download page as this will be updated much more frequently and provides the largest potential for a boost in performance.

5. Use Windows ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost is a way of using fast memory drives/cards to provide a high-speed system cache, boosting the performance of your applications without adding any additional physical RAM. ReadyBoost compatible devices have much faster read and write access times than hard disks, and are therefore able to provide speedy buffers for random I/O operations.

This is no substitute for adding more memory to your system, but the ReadyBoost cache can sometimes make a significant difference to application performance. If you have a spare memory stick with suitable performance then this is an easy way to boost system speed.

6. Disable Unwanted Startup Applications

Many applications bundle small utilities and unneeded software to your Windows 7 startup list. Often these are just useless tray icons which aren’t necessary and simply slow down your system. Run “msconfig” and view the startup tab to view and change your startup list.

Ideally you should disable any startup entries by uninstalling or configuring the software correctly, as you may find some entries re-appear next time you manually load that application.

7. Disable Unwanted Services

Very similar to the startup items tip, there are some Windows services that are added by 3rd party application that you may not use, as well as some default Windows services that may not be required. Disabling services requires some deeper knowledge, so only change these entries if you are confident in doing so.

Run “services.msc” to view and change the list of services that start on boot, setting ones that aren’t used to “manual start” can improve boot time.

8. Defragment your Hard Drive

Windows 7 includes a perfectly functional file defragmentation tool which you can run on an automatic or manual basis to improve access performance. This works by physically re-organising the contents of the disk in to a more logical manor. For example, the data blocks making up a single file will be arranged in the most optimal way (close together). This generally only applies to mechanical drives, so defragging an SSD is not recommended (not least because it could reduce the lifespan of these type of drives).

By default an automatic defrag runs once a week, early in the morning. You should either make sure this is a time when your PC is on but not used heavily, or run it manually every couple of weeks.

9. Use Automatic Logon

If you are the only person with access to your PC and feel you don’t need to secure it with a password then you can use automatic logon to save a few seconds. This will boot right to your desktop without any need to enter a password and wait for loading. Please be aware that anyone could use your computer by doing this, so consider the security aspect first.

10. Clean up Old Files

Windows 7 has a system cleanup tool which you can use to recover free space on your hard drive. This is an easy way to remove temporary files, old installation data and log files which accumulate over time.

There are also some free 3rd party utilities that can clean other types of data. One recommended choice would be CCleaner as this is highly unlikely to do any harm to your system, but provides a quick and easy way to clean temp files from a wide range of 3rd party programs.