Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Boost Your Computer's Performance: Small (and Not-So-Small) Changes Can Add Up to Big Improvements in the Speed and Efficiency of Windows PCs

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Boost Your Computer's Performance: Small (and Not-So-Small) Changes Can Add Up to Big Improvements in the Speed and Efficiency of Windows PCs

Article excerpt

Computers, as most anyone can tell you, tend to run slower over time. The main reason is the installation of unnecessary applications and add-ins. Sometimes, malware also ends up on the computer (without the user's knowledge). Before too long, the user is waiting an additional four or five seconds for each application to launch, each file to open, each webpage to load, and each page to print. That might not seem like much, but saving just 10 minutes a day translates to a time savings of more than 40 hours per year, so even a minor computer tuneup could yield significant productivity dividends.

With productivity in mind, this article provides a list of measures you can take to ensure that your Windows computer is operating at peak performance. To quickly test its performance, simply reboot the system and then launch Excel and a browser. If the system reboots in less than a minute and the applications launch in less than two seconds each, then your system's performance is adequate; otherwise, perhaps you should consider implementing some of the measures outlined below to rejuvenate the computer's performance. (Caveat: If your firm or company employs IT staff or IT consultants, it may be best to have them fine-tune your computer's performance; after all, that is their job.)

This article focuses on Windows desktop and laptop computers because Windows is by far the most prevalent type of operating system used by CPAs on their main computer (as opposed to Apple computers, tablets, or smartphones). While these instructions are specific to computers running Windows 8.1, the same measures can usually be applied to computers running Windows 8, 7, and Vista, although the specific menu terminology may vary slightly.

1. Set your computer to perform faster. A simple measure to boost your computer's performance is to eliminate unnecessary visual effects, as follows. From Control Panel, select System, Advanced System Settings. In the resulting System Properties dialog box, in the Performance area, click the Settings button. At this juncture, you might be tempted to select the button labeled Adjust for best performance, but I advise you to resist this impulse. Instead, select the Custom option and uncheck all of the available boxes except Show thumbnails instead of icons and Smooth edges of screen fonts; and then click OK, OK, as shown at the top of the next column.

This setting adjustment will typically improve your computer's performance significantly. If you neglect to check the two options I recommend, your Explorer windows will display icons instead of thumbnails, which is less user-friendly, and your screen fonts may be unacceptably more difficult to read.

2. Disable add-ins. Disable unnecessary add-ins in Word, Excel, your web browser, and other applications as follows. From Word or Excel, launch the application and select File, Options, Add-Ins. From the Manage dropdown box, one at a time select each available option (such as Excel Add-ins, COM Add-ins, Actions, etc.), click the Go button, and then uncheck any add-ins you know for sure that you don't need. For example, in the screenshot below, I have disabled all of Excel's COM Add-Ins, except for Microsoft Power Map for Excel and Power View.

Repeat this process for each Microsoft application you use, and for each type of available add-in. If you later change your mind, you can reinstate an add-in you disabled simply by rechecking its box. After they are removed, add-ins won't load automatically, and your applications will launch faster.

To disable add-ins in Internet Explorer, select Tools, Options (or Internet Options), Programs, Manage add-ons. In the resulting Manage Add-ons dialog box, one at a time select the Add-on Types (such as Toolbars and Extensions, Search Providers, Accelerators, etc.), select each unwanted add-in, and then click the Disable button in the lower-right corner. For example, I might want to disable the McAfee add-in, as pictured below, because I use Norton Internet Security and I have no idea how or when the McAfee add-in was loaded on my computer in the first place. …

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