It’s inevitable that all computers will experience slower speeds at some point. As software becomes more demanding, the way in which your PC reacts to these changes can have a big impact on its performance. The operating system you have and whether you have chosen to upgrade to Windows 10 can also make a big difference.
While you can make some upgrades to your laptop to make it run faster, there are some improvements you can make that are more cost-effective and straightforward to do. These minor adjustments may not seem like they will speed up your computer performance, but combined they can make it possible to keep your PC functional for a number of years.
There are also several types of software available that can help you to get rid of old files while locating applications that you don’t use often and may want to uninstall. These programs can also alert you to files and software that may be the causes for a slow computer and may ultimately be worth deleting.
Here are seven ways you can improve computer speed and its overall performance.
1. Uninstall unnecessary software
Your computer comes preloaded with a number of applications that many people won’t use but that can eat up system resources. You can usually identify these when you see a pop-up prompting you to update a program you’ve never used before.
Click on the "Start" button and visit the “All apps” menu
Here you can view a list of the applications you have installed - and the ones you haven’t
Once you find the program you want to uninstall, right-click on the icon to see the "Options" menu
Or, you can right-click on Start and visit Programs and Features. Windows assistant Cortana can also be helpful because it can perform a search for “Programs” in its search box. From there, you’ll find a record of which apps you’ve used recently and which take up the most space. After surveying what’s installed, you can decide which programs can be deleted to help improve system performance.
You’ll also want to know which programs are required for your computer to run properly and which can be discarded. One of the reasons these applications slow down your PC is because they often start up automatically when you boot up your computer.
If you aren’t sure whether you want these applications permanently erased, you can take a more an in-depth look at the applications you want to remove within the aforementioned menus.
2. Limit the programs at startup
Along the same lines, you can also determine which applications run when your PC boots up. Windows 10 has an updated Task Manager that makes it easier to determine what you want running in the background and what you can start on your own.
To access Task Manager, press Ctrl-Shift-Esc
A box will appear that lists all the applications you have installed on your computer
It also gives you a detailed account of the amount of RAM each program uses when you start your PC
To make an adjustment, just right-click on the application you want to change to tell it not to run until commanded
You can always change the settings if you notice that a program is no longer running that impacts how you use your PC. If in doubt, you can always restart your computer and see how it runs without certain applications available at startup.
3. Add more RAM to your PC
In terms of memory usage, Windows 10 uses less RAM than previous versions, but increasing RAM memory has been a tried-and-true way to speed up devices for years.
If you have a convertible or detachable laptop, you’ll likely need to settle for what came in the box. Some business and gaming laptops make it possible to add RAM, but it can still be tricky.
It’s much easier to add more RAM to desktop computers, and it’s much cheaper, too. Anyone with a basic idea of the interior of a desktop tower is capable of installing more RAM in an hour or so.
You can also take your computer into a professional shop to have more RAM installed. If you’re worried about potentially compromising your system or doing this incorrectly, then having an opinion from someone who knows what he or she is doing can ease your mind and make adding extra memory easy.
4. Check for spyware and viruses
It’s almost impossible not to pick up a virus at some point while browsing the web, but the new Windows Defender software has made it easier than ever to find malware that may be causing major issues on your PC. Third-party programs are also easy to install and can be just as effective in removing any spyware or viruses you may have picked up.
Some applications are better than others and some can take up more space, which can then cause issues with speed. Ideally, you want to find software that is efficient and removes malware completely, but that doesn’t take up too much space on your PC.
Consider installing two types of software for computer performance monitoring. Malware cleanup programs can solve lagging or blatant issues with speed or popups. However, you should also look into applications that offer ongoing protection and run in the background. Again, keep in mind that these antivirus programs take up space, so you want to choose one that is designed not to affect performance.
A little research can help you to find the software that works within your budget or with your specific type of operating system. There can be compatibility issues if you’re downloading free software, so double-check everything before installing it so you don’t run into additional performance problems.
5. Use Disk Cleanup and defragmentation
Every computer has a number of files and programs on its hard drive that haven’t been used in a while or are unnecessary. Disk Cleanup allows you to find which applications and files can be deleted from your computer, freeing up drive space for the programs you will use.
It is incredibly easy to access Disk Cleanup.
From the Start button or Cortana search box, you’ll be sent to the program
A quick scan will show you the temporary files, installer applications, and web pages that you haven’t used or no longer need
From there, it will automatically delete them and clear up some space
Disk Cleanup’s effectiveness depends on how much RAM you have on your PC, which can also cause your computer to run slower than it normally would. If this is the case, it may be a good idea to install more RAM on your device.
You should also schedule disk defragmentation on a semi-regular basis so you can be aware of how much hard-drive space you have. Windows has an Optimize Drives tool, which you can access from the Start button or your Cortana search box. There are also a number of third-party programs that can be helpful in clearing out files that you don’t use anymore.
6. Consider a startup SSD
When you want better performance, a startup solid-state drive (SSD) can go a long way toward taking some of the pressure off the processor when your computer boots up. If you tend to run a number of applications at one time or use photo and video editing software, then a startup drive can go a long way toward making these programs run smoother and load faster.
While they’re most commonly installed on desktop computers, SSDs can be used on some laptop models as well. When you don’t have the option of using an internal SSD, you can always purchase an external drive that connects to your PC with a USB 3.0. This drive can give you the extra push you need at startup to accomplish tasks and give you a boost for apps that need more temporary memory to run properly.
You can find a number of SSD options that work within your budget depending on how you use your PC. Storage review sites online can be valuable sources of information when you want to choose the right drive for your computer and you need to know that it is compatible with your operating system.
7. Take a look at your web browser
Minor adjustments can often make a difference with the speed of your PC. Something as simple as which browser you use can slow down or speed up the rate at which web pages, videos, and images load. If you have been using a certain browser and notice that there is a lag time, consider an alternative to see if the loading speeds are better.
The type of browser you use is not only the thing that may be slowing down your computer when you’re using the web. If you have a full cache that has not been emptied in a while, then you’ll want to visit your settings and make sure that it’s empty.
Fortunately, it’s an easy fix. There are two ways to do this in the more popular web browsers:
Note that Chrome allows you to delete data within a certain time period
If you’ve never deleted the files in your cache before, you’ll want to select “All time”
Check the boxes “Cookies and other site data” and “Cached images and files”
Hit “Clear data”
You should be warned that cookies also can also include the autofill function in your search bar, so it is a good idea to have your favorite websites bookmarked just in case.
If you are experiencing issues loading applications or simply dealing with slow computer performance, then it usually just takes some minor adjustments to make it run more efficiently.
Make sure to double check to see if there is malware, spyware, or a virus causing lags or slow speeds. After that, you can look into what else might be causing any issues so you can speed up, maintain, and check your computer performance to enjoy an overall better experience.
Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.
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