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Windows 8.1: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Three Speed Tricks

It’s a fact of computing: Every PC seems to get slower the longer you own it.

There are plenty of reasons. When the PC is new, consider that:

  • The hard drive has loads of free space and zero fragmentation.

  • The boot process hasn’t yet been cluttered up by startup code deposited by your programs.

  • Few background programs are constantly running, eating up your memory.

  • You haven’t yet drained away horsepower with antivirus and automatic backup programs.

Also, remember that every year, the programs you buy or download are more demanding than the previous year’s software.

Some of the usual advice about speeding up your PC applies here, of course: Install more memory or a faster hard drive.

But in Windows 8.1, here and there, nestled among the 50 million lines of code, you’ll find some free tricks and tips for giving your PC a speed boost. Read on.

SuperFetch

Your PC can grab data from RAM (memory) hundreds of times faster than from the hard drive. That’s why it uses a cache, a portion of memory that holds bits of software code you’ve used recently. After all, if you’ve used some feature or command once, you may want to use it again soon—and this way, Windows is ready for you. It can deliver that bit of code nearly instantaneously the next time.

When you leave your PC for a while, however, background programs (virus checkers, backup programs, disk utilities) take advantage of the idle time. They run themselves when you’re not around—and push out whatever was in the cache.

That’s why, ...

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