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PC Performance Myths

Illustration by Harry Campbell
You have lots of good ways to speed up your PC, but you'll encounter plenty of bogus tips, too. Here are three common PC speed-up tactics that just don't do the trick.

Cleaning the Registry

Hard-core Windows users love to tweak their system settings via the Registry Editor, and many claim to have elicited some performance benefits from doing so. The idea is that you can improve Windows' efficiency by weeding out broken entries in this giant database, you can save Windows some energy at boot time, and you can make Windows start and run faster. Unfortunately, there's no real evidence that this approach works, and you can do more harm than good by mucking around with the database that runs your whole PC.

Disabling System Restore

Many supposed Windows gurus will tell you that disabling the System Restore feature can speed up your computer by freeing up hard-drive space and preventing it from kicking in while you work. But since System Restore activates only when you install new applications or when your PC is idle, and since it uses only a small fraction of your hard drive anyway, turning off this feature robs you of a valuable safety measure without providing any real benefit.

Defragging Your Drive

Back in the days when drives were small and operating systems were simpler, running Defrag now and then was necessary to keep your computer running smoothly. But Windows XP, Vista, and 7 all include automated disk optimization, and it's rare for a drive to become so fragmented that it hampers performance. So, while firing up your Disk Defragmenter isn't likely to do any harm, it's usually a waste of your time.

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