Installing and Uninstalling Software
Small games often include a lot of advertising, connect to websites automatically and so on. These are best removed for performance reasons. Examples such as those below are even pre-installed by manufacturers to bring in extra money.
Often pretends to offer savings or some sort of 'free stuff' to lure in users, never have these on your computer, there are many, many others than those below.
Fake System Tools
Anything that claim to be a registry cleaner, computer speed-upper, or a fake anti-virus.
Windows Search → 'Uninstall a Program'
Running Virus Scans
This was known as Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) in Windows 7, it now comes built-in to windows 8. It should be always on.
Malwarebytes Anti Malware
Another good program, this is one we commonly pre-install.
Remove Toolbars, Reset Search Engine and Homepage
Even legitimate software wants to install toolbars and hijack our homepage and search engines to redirect us through their services, generating ad revenue. This example below covers undoing the damage on firefox. The process is similar for internet explorer and chromium.
Disable the addons
Firefox → Addons → Extensions → Disable Toolbars
Set the homepage
Firefox → Options → General Tab → Restore Homepage to Default
Set the search engine
Firefox → Search Engine → Choose Search Engine
Checking the Disk Drive
Filesystem corruption or a failing hard drive can result in very slow windows performance as it struggles to read the files it needs from the sick hard drive, you can check if this is the cause by running a disk check
Search → File Explorer ->Right Click on Drive → Properties → Tools Tab → Error Checking
System File Integrity
Similarly, corrupt system files will slow down the system as it can't read it's core files, so we can check for this. Open up a command line by typing
Windows Search → Type 'Command' → Run As Administrator
Then you can run the system file integrity checking tool
Disabling Startup Programs
System boot up speed, or just getting rid of annoying programs starting up on login can be done from task manager.
Examining System Resources
Particularly useful to see if a slow computer is just down to heavy usage of memory, open the task manager and have a look under the performance tab. A common one is simply to have so many programs open that memory is exhausted, meaning the computer will write some memory to hard drive (its paging file), drastically slowing down the computer. We can see if this is the case easily enough from the memory performance graph.
System Refresh and System Reinstall DANGER!!
System Refresh will reinstall windows, remove all user applications, but preserve user data. Any applications supplied by us would need to be reinstalled, in the future Assistive Solution PC's will come with a custom system image, allowing a system refresh to be carried out which will preserve all the Assistive Solutions supplied software too.
System Restore will reinstall windows and get rid of user data and applications, you probably won't want to do this :*)