We all have those times when, whether its downloading a ton of files for work or waiting for a funny Youtube video to load, a computer – supposedly a fast 21st century appliance, seems to be going slow while we, on the other hand, are rapidly losing our minds. Typically, there are 3 things you could do when in this situation: 1) be like this guy 2) forget your old computer and opt for an upgrade or 3) follow 15 easy steps to keep your sanity and keep your computer running fast…
(P.S. throughout the article, I attempted to add humorous but relevant pics for your enjoyment ;D)
1. Uninstall Unnecessary Programs and Applications
Over the years, a significant amount of programs – both native and third party – can eat away at your computer’s speed and memory. I’m mentioning this as step #1 because this is perhaps the easiest ways a computer can slow down to a crawl as well as the easiest to fix.
To resolve this, just go to the Control Panel’s Programs and Features page (Start>>type Programs and Features) and uninstall programs that you are sure you don’t use, if you are uneasy when it comes to deleting programs – ask a computer tech to guide you through removing unnecessary applications, they should be happy to help.
2. Delete Temporary Information
The recycle bin, all the stuff you thought you deleted may still be there waiting it’s turn to be erased for all eternity – and it may take a while.
To speed up the process, you could delete everything in the recycle bin (be warned! this may include stuff you may want later) or you could c0nfigure the recycle bin to permanently delete files instead of making them “wait”. Also, to save even more physical memory on your computer, you may want to delete temporary and cached files. To do so, just follow the steps outlined in the video below:
3. Update Often
Yes, I know, you don’t want to update every other week and when you do update, you really don’t want to restart your computer – but putting it off this “one last time” might be the reason your computer is going so slow, and can put it at risk.
For Windows users, just go to the Start Menu > type Windows Update > and click to open the update page. From here, you could either run a manual update or check to see if your computer automatically updates – I mention this only because having automatic updates could slow down your computer or open it up to faulty system updates.
4. Configure Startup Programs
On startup, several different programs opening and running at the same time can slow down or delay more important system processes – leaving you waiting until your computer “warms up” to actually work (or watch Youtube vids of kittens, whatever floats your boat, bro).
To shorten startup time, you can decide which programs you want to open automatically by going to the Start Menu > typing msconfig > go to the startup tab > and disable or enable programs. Not only will this decrease startup time, but it’ll save you the trouble of loading and closing programs you didn’t need activated in the first place.
5. Remove Unnecessary Background Processes
Usually when people think of CTRL-ALT-DEL they think of the 3-key fix all. Today, that remains true and it can help you determine what’s eating up your processing speed and stop them from slowing down your computer.
If you want to locate hidden processes and programs that you may not be aware of, press CTRL-ALT-DEL and open the task manager. If you go to processes, you’ll see a list of system and user processes that are taking up disk space, CPU processing, and physical memory – all of which play an important role in how fast your PC is going. To be on the safe side, I’d only end the processes that pertain to the User and not the SYSTEM, because shutting down the wrong process can result in your PC crashing unexpectedly.
6. Increase Hard Drive Storage
If you have the cash to knock out two birds with one stone – skip to step 7 and think about investing in an SSD drive. If you’re content with sticking with an HDD, then the one thing to help increase computer performance is replacing your hard drive.
Even if you don’t fill your hard drive’s capacity to 100%, the more space you use, the slower your PC will be. Many people recommend 5-10% free space for adequate performance, but the numbers vary from computer to computer. For the tech savvy, its as simple as backing up your data onto another computer and simply transferring the content of your “Windows” folder. For others it may be more difficult, and something I cannot explain in one paragraph, I either recommend trying the video below, getting a tech to assist you, or reading this article.
7. Use a Solid State Drive (SSD)
As mentioned in step 6, an SSD drive or Solid State Drive, can be used in place of the more traditional HDDs – all while giving a boost in performance and a decrease in startup time. In a standard HDD or Hard Drive Disk, a disk is used to navigate memory – taking time and adding to the loss in speed in your PC. An SSD, on the other hand, does not use a disk and is often 1st when it comes to less noise pollution, small size, and performance. Of course, there’s always a catch: as of recently, an SSD costs 60 cents per gigabyte while an HDD costs 8 cents. If price is of no object to you, however, adopt SSD drives to boost your performance and read this article for more information before you make your choice.
8. Install more RAM
Along with increasing hard drive capacity, increasing the amount of RAM (Random Access Memory) in your computer could significantly boost performance and processing speed. RAM is the temporary memory storage that each running program on your computer uses and is crucial to opening multiple applications at around the same time. If your PC runs slow or freezes when you try opening several programs, it may be a telltale sign of a limited amount of RAM. To remedy this, you need to determine how much ram your system can support and what type would go best with your PC. An excellent article can be found here.
9. Upgrade your Operating System
This may be the one step that you can skip, however, if you’re an XP user, you might want to pay attention. Upgrading your OS can benefit your system in that it 1) has better security, 2) receives periodical updates, and 3) keeps up with complex software and third party applications.
If none of those things mean anything to you – you made a right choice choosing Windows. On the off-chance you do want to upgrade your OS, then you could either buy an OS boot CD and upgrade or completely wipe all your files by choosing a custom boot and starting from scratch with your new OS. I recommend doing some research before you order a new OS and weigh the benefits and the cost of going out of your way to do so.
10. Configure Your Computer For Best Performance
Many Windows PCs have the option to configure the computer for best performance or best appearance, though the default is to let Windows choose what’s best for the computer.
If you could care less about aesthetic appeal or enhanced graphics and would rather devote those resources to overall performance you can easily change the settings by going to Start > type Adjust the Appearance and Performance of Windows > and change the settings to your preference.
11. Clean the (blank) thing
Oftentimes, people choose to subject their computers to living conditions a machine can’t even live in. If your not one of those people, great. If you are one of those people, let me stop to give you a picard face palm – because your negligence could just be the reason your computer is suffering performance-wise.
If it comes to the point where there are cakes of dust accumulating inside the case and the internal components then its time to clean. The reason being because these clumps of dust – not fatal in themselves – can eventually lead to your PC’s internals being insulated and your PC having to adjust to these conditions and, hence, slow down. To clean your case a simple air spray or foam swab should do. A couple of precautions however: 1) make sure you take proper measures to avoid ESD (Electrical Static Discharge) before getting into the internals of your computer and 2) make sure that when you spray with compressed air that the nozzle or can is far enough away to not damage your fan or push dust further inside the case but close enough to still be effective. To read a more detailed set of instructions please refer to this article.
12. Assess Network Performance
On occasion, the issue may not be hardware related at all. Determine if most of your problems stem not from slow startup or system performance, but from slow internet connectivity. If this is the case, a simple speed test could help you figure out if your network speed is up to par. If not, either contact your internet provider requesting technical assistance or try trouble shooting the problem yourself.
13. Manage User Accounts
Perhaps the simplest of the 15 steps is determining if there are unnecessary users created on your PC. Oftentimes, many PCs have 3 or more users when all users just use one account – creating multiple User accounts takes up memory – and if there are forgotten programs or files active on other accounts – it could wear away at your performance. To deactivate/delete accounts just go to Start > type “Add, Delete, and Manage other user accounts”.
The decision to defragment your hard drive is really up to you. Some users worry about condensing a weeks worth of read and write operations into a couple of hours while others agree that it benefits the system in the long run. As Windows already does consistent defrags by default there should be no need to defragment your drive too often – only every other month or when you delete or write a large amount of data onto your drive. Here’s Technet’s take on defragmentation. To defragment go to Start > type defrag and click on icon.
Another aspect of Windows disk management is the disk cleanup tool. In short, it cleans up unnecessary system caches and temporary files that take up space. To use: Start > type disk cleanup.
15. Install Antivirus Software
A secure, lightweight, and discrete antivirus software could be the best thing when it comes to maximizing performance. As time goes on and you visit more and more websites you might end up with malware and viruses that could slow down your computer by busily sending out spam emails, cracking cryptography, or searching for other systems to infect. And with the initial infection, it becomes increasingly easier for your PC to gather more viruses all doing the same thing. Though we recommend Malwarebytes, any anti-malware software that you feel comfortable with should do.
Sometimes, computers that weren’t taken care of properly in the past should be put out of commission. If not, using them past a certain point can result in an insecure data environment, potential security breaches, physical damage, low performance, as well as financial burdens stemming from constantly buying old parts or trying to find old software that can run on your even older PC. When all of these conditions are met – such as what is happening with old Windows XPs – then give your computer a proper sending off and salvage what you can. For folks like these, here’s a tutorial on how to do so: enjoy 😀