Understanding performance issues
This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with Windows Vista.
If Windows XP is installed on the computer, perform the same maintenance tasks that are recommended in this document on the same schedule; however, it is necessary to use different tools . See the Download and install HP Help and Support section of this document.
After accessing information on the internet and adding additional programs, the performance of the computer may begin degrading. A combination of unintentional changes to the system configuration files and some poorly designed software can cause the computer to run slowly and freeze for no obvious reason.
This document contains several methods for improving the performance of the computer to ensure that it is performing optimally.
Recommended schedule of maintenance tasks
To be sure that the correct maintenance tools are installed on the computer, download and install the HP Help and Support tools and utilities. Many of the routine maintenance tasks require that you complete the first time tasks by installing and running the maintenance tools on your computer.
Click any link for more information on tasks in the maintenance schedule.
|First time maintenance tasks|
|What to do||How to do it|
|Download and install HP Help and Support||Go to hp.com/go/helpandsupport|
|Run HP Troubleshooting Tools||Run all of the troubleshooting tools available in HP Help and Support|
|Routine Maintenance Tasks|
|Use HP Health Check||X|
|Run Windows Update||X|
|Scan for and remove viruses||X|
|Scan for and remove spyware and adware||X|
|Empty the Recycle Bin||X|
|Delete temporary internet files||X|
|Back up user files||X|
|Create a restore point||X|
|Defragment the hard drive||X|
|Run Scan Disk||X|
|Clean the notebook PC||X|
|Close programs that are not being used||X|
|Prevent programs from loading at startup||X|
Download and install HP Help and Support
First time maintenance task.
The factory image of Windows Vista includes HP Help and Support.
To verify that the current version of HP Help and Support is installed on the computer, click Start, Help and Support , and then verify that the banner displays the HP logo. If the banner does not display the HP logo, or if there are fewer than seven Troubleshooting Tools listed from the home page, download and install the current version of HP Help and Support.
For help downloading and installing the current version of HP Help and Support, refer to the HP Notebook PCs - Locating HP Software, Drivers, and BIOS Updates in Vista support document.
Run HP Troubleshooting Tools
First time maintenance task.
All HP computers ship with the HP Help and Support application, which provides access to a suite of troubleshooting tools. The suite is a collection of individual diagnostic and repair programs that to help you use your computer more effectively, including:
- HP Health Check
- HP System Information
- HP Modem Check
- HP Battery Check
- HP Home Network Center
For help using the HP Troubleshooting Tools, refer to the HP Notebook PCs - Locating HP Software, Drivers, and BIOS Updates in Vista support document.
Run these utilities while the computer is running properly to ensure a good baseline state. Then use these tools as required for preventative maintenance and to resolve any problems that may occur over the course of normal use.
Use HP Health Check
Weekly: Use HP Health Check.
All HP computers ship with HP Health Check.
For help using the HP Health Check, refer to the HP Notebook PCs - Locating HP Software, Drivers, and BIOS Updates in Vista support document.
Run Windows Update
Weekly: Check for updates with Windows Update.
It is a good idea to update hardware drivers and the operating system on a weekly basis. Drivers are software programs that allow the operating system to communicate with hardware on the computer, such as the video and sound cards. An updated driver enables the devices to work optimally. Windows Update provides updates for the operating system, Microsoft software, and important drivers for the operating system.
For help using Windows Update, refer to the HP Notebook PCs - Locating HP Software, Drivers, and BIOS Updates in Vista support document.
Scan for and remove viruses
Weekly: Update virus definitions and scan for viruses.
HP recommends setting your antivirus program (such as Norton Internet Security and Windows Defender) to automatically scan the computer for harmful and unwanted material and to check for updates once a week. Schedule the scan for a time that you do not need to use the computer.
The computer must be turned on and connected to the internet at the time of the scan to obtain updates from the software manufacturer. If the computer is turned off and not connected at the time of the scheduled scan, the software attempts to obtain the latest updates the next time the computer is turned on.
For more information on viruses, Windows Defender, and Norton Internet Security, refer to the HP Notebook PCs - Protecting Notebook From Threats On The Internet on Vista support document.
Scan for and remove spyware and adware
Weekly: Update spyware definitions and scan for spyware and adware.
Adware is a software application that displays advertising banners while it is running. Clicking the banner ads and other pop-up ads while online frequently installs the adware onto the computer. Having adware installed on the computer is problematic for two main reasons:
- It often contains code that tracks your personal information and passes it along to third parties without your knowledge.
- It runs in the background on the computer, which takes up memory and diverts system resources from programs that you actually want to run.
Spyware is a software application that collects information about browsing habits on the web, which allows the company that installed the spyware on the computer to build marketing profiles.
Most antivirus programs, such as Norton Internet Security and Windows Defender, offer some limited anti-spyware protection. However, you may want to look into programs specifically designed for adware and spyware removal as well. Some recognized programs are Ad-Aware from Lavasoft, and SpyBot Search and Destroy from 2Squared.
For more information about viruses, adware, and spyware, and how to remove them, refer to theHP Notebook PCs - Protecting Notebook From Threats On The Internet on Vista support document.
Empty the Recycle Bin
Weekly: Empty files from the recycle bin.
It is important to delete files that are sitting in the Recycle Bin on a periodic basis, particularly temporary internet files, because they can fill up a hard drive quickly, and slow down performance. HP recommends emptying the Recycle Bin at least once a week.
To empty the Recycle Bin, follow the steps below.
- Click Start , type recycle into the search field, and then select Recycle Bin from the list.The Recycle Bin opens.
- Click Empty the Recycle Bin , and then click Yes to confirm that you want to permanently delete the file(s).
The files that were in the Recycle Bin are now permanently deleted and the computer is using less memory.
After emptying the Recycle Bin, refer to the Run Scan Disk section below to continue the maintenance process.
Restore files from the Recycle Bin
To restore a file that you accidentally moved to the recylce bin that you do not want to permanently delete, follow the steps below.
- Click Start , type recycle into the search field, and then select Recycle Bin from the list.
- Select the file that you want to restore and then click Restore this item .
The file is now restored to its original location on the hard disk drive.
Delete temporary internet files
Weekly: Delete unused and temporary files.
Windows uses several directories, such as the C:\WINDOWS\TEMP directory, to store files (*.tmp, *.spc) that are only intended for temporary use. Over time, the number of files builds up and slows down the operation of programs, such as print spooling.
Windows Vista provides the Disk Cleanup utility to help you find and remove temporary files on your computer, which can include internet files, cache files, and other temporary files created automatically by some programs in between full saves. It is important to delete temporary files, because they can fill up a hard drive quickly, and slow down performance.
To use the Disk Cleanup utility, follow the steps below.
- Click Start , type disk into the search field, and then select Disk Cleanup from the list. Grant permission to continue, if promtped.
- Select the drive that you want to clean up and then click OK .
- If prompted, select My files only , then select your hard drive, (C:) , and click OK .
- Wait while Disk Cleanup evaluates the hard disk drive.A list of how much space can be saved by deleting various categories of files.
- Select the checkboxes for the types of files that you want to delete, click OK , and thenYes to confirm that you want to permanently delete the files.
- Wait while Disk Cleanup permanently deletes the files.
The files are now permanently deleted from the computer.
Back up user files
Monthly: Save important files to disc.
Back up your files to a form of disc or other external storage media to protect them from being lost or changed.
There are a few options for backing up your files:
- Manually back up the files by copying them to an external storage service, such as a flash media stick, an optical disc, or an external hard drive.
- Use the Backup and Restore Center to allow Windows Vista to select files from categories that you choose, and back them up on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule.
For more information on backing up your files using the Backup and Restore Center, refer to theHP Notebook PCs - Use Windows Basic Backup and Restore Center to Back Up Files in Vistasupport document.
Create a restore point
Monthly: Create a restore point before cleaning up the hard drive.
Prior to deleting files or performing a Disk Cleanup, consider creating a restore point. A restore point is a copy of the system files on the computer at a specific point in time. System Restore creates restore points at automatic intervals and when Windows Vista detects that changes have been made to the computer.
For more information on creating a restore point, refer to the HP Notebook PCs - Using Microsoft System Restore support document.
Run Scan Disk
Monthly: Scan the hard drive for errors
HP recommends checking the physical condition of the hard drive once a month. Error-checking reveals any bad sectors so that you can repair them.
To run Scan Disk, follow the steps below.
- Close all programs including background programs such as virus scanners and screen savers.
- Click Start and then Computer . The Computer window opens.
- Right-click the icon for the hard disk drive that you want to scan, click Properites , and then the Tools tab.
- Under Error-checking , click Check Now .
- Select the Automatically fix file system errors and the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors checkboxes, click Start , and then Schedule disk check to allow a full disk scan when the computer is restarted.
- Restart the computer to start the disk check. The disk scan can take a very long time to complete.
- The results of the error-checking display. Click Close to exit program when finished.
After making the changes, it is a good idea to consolidate and reorganize the files that are still on your hard disk drive. To improve drive efficiency by consolidating files, defragment the hard disk drive.
Defragment the hard disk drive
Monthly: Defragment the hard disk drive.
During normal operation, a computer generates temporary save files, but it does not automatically clean up or remove these files. As a computer is used, the small temporary files and larger data files on the hard disk drive become fragmented - meaning that the files are divided into small pieces and stored in different locations on the drive. When a file is needed, it takes time for the hard drive to find and reassemble all the pieces.
To improve the performance of the hard drive, periodically use the Windows Disk Defragmenter to consolidate and reorganize the fragmented files and folders on the hard drive. HP recommends doing so at least once a month.
The computer must be turned on at the time that the automatic defragmentation is scheduled to occur. If the computer is turned off at the time of the scheduled automatic defragmentation, the software attempts to defragment the hard disk drive the next time the computer is turned on.
To defragment the hard disk drive, follow the steps below.
- Click Start , type disk in the search field, and then select Disk Defragmenter from the list to open Disk Defragmenter. Grant permission to continue, if prompted.
- Click Defragment now .If you want to change the schedule for automatic defragmentation, click Modify scheduleand select a frequency, day of the week, and time of day for the defragmentation to occur.
The computer starts the defragmentation process. Disk defragmentation can take several minutes to several hours, depending on the severity of the fragmentation.
Clean the notebook PC
Occasionally: Clean the hardware.
Extend the life of your notebook PC by removing potentially damaging dust, dirt, pet hair, and other buildup.
For more information on cleaning your notebook PC correctly, refer to the HP Notebook PCs - Cleaning your Notebook PC support document.
Close programs that are not in use
Occasionally: Close programs that are not in use
It is a good idea to save any user data and close programs when a task is finished. Minimizing the window for a program does not stop that program from using the computer's processor and memory. Close unnecessary programs to help the computer perform more efficiently.
Activities, such as browsing the web, listening to music, and running virus scans all use a lot of system resources. Schedule the use of virus scans and other system tools for a time when the computer is not in use. Work offline when convenient.
Prevent programs from loading at startup
Occasionally: Prevent programs from loading at startup if performance degrades
At startup, many programs launch background processes that take up space in memory waiting for them to be used. For example, scanners, photo viewers, Bluetooth devices, and camera software can all load on startup, and remain resident in memory, even when not actively in use. Most of these processes are not needed by every program or game. If the computer is running slowly and overall performance seems to have degraded since purchasing the notebook, removing these speciality programs from a normal startup may improve overall performance. For more information, refer to the HP Notebook PCs - Preventing Programs from Starting When Windows Starts support document.
Use System Information
The System Information utility provides information about the specifications of the computer, such as type of processor, processor speed, and amount of RAM. You may be asked to provide this information if you contact HP or a third-party software manufacturer for assistance with troubleshooting a problem.
To open the System Information utility, click Start , type system into the search field, and then select System Information from the list.
Alternately, press the fn + esc keys at the same time to open the System Information utility