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Improving and Optimizing Your Laptops' PerformanceImproving and Optimizing Your Laptops' Performance

Improving and Optimizing Your Laptops' Performance

Reading time: 5 minutes
Having a laptop computer gives you the power of a full computer system that is also portable. Your laptop can go virtually anywhere you go, but as useful as laptops are, they can become slower over time as you use them, just like desktop machines. You can keep your computer running at peak performance with some simple maintenance tasks.

Limit Startup Tasks and Programs

Firing up your laptop shouldn't involve pushing the button and then waiting five minutes while your computer chugs to life. A laggy computer that doesn't respond quickly is likely being slowed down by programs that start automatically and run in the background after you start your computer. These programs not only slow start-up time significantly, but they also drain CPU capacity dramatically.
On a Windows machine, open your Task Manager by clicking "Settings," then "Apps," and then "Startup." Check the list of programs that start automatically, and disable any that you don't want to start right away. If you're not sure about which ones to disable, sort the list of startup programs by impact level. You can also find these settings on macOS under "System Preferences," "Users & Groups," and then "Login Items."

Uninstall Unused Software

When you first buy a new laptop, it usually comes with many free apps that are preinstalled on the operating system. These apps take up disk space, and they often make a computer run more slowly. Removing unused apps can give you more room on your hard drive and may make your computer run faster. On a Windows laptop, open the Control Panel and choose "Uninstall a Program" under Programs to remove an app. Review the list of programs on your computer. To uninstall a program, right-click the program from the list, choose "Uninstall," and then click "Yes" to proceed with the removal.
You may need to confirm that you really want to uninstall the app. Once you click "Yes" again, your computer will proceed with the removal. If you get a prompt to restart your computer, follow the instructions to finish the process. Removing unwanted programs is even simpler on macOS: Just open LaunchPad, click and hold on the icon of the unwanted program until it jiggles, then click the X. Confirm this action by clicking "Delete."

Use Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup is a preinstalled program on Windows operating systems that reviews installed programs and files, then recommends items you can safely delete from a hard drive. Use this program to get rid of unnecessary files and programs. Enter "Disk Cleanup" into the Search Bar, and select the program from the dropdown menu. Open the program and click "OK" to start it. Allow the program to scan your computer. Once it finishes, you'll see a full list of files and programs and the amount of open disk space you have. Select all of the boxes beside the files and programs you don't need, and then select "Clean Up System Files."
The program will start another scan, and when it finishes, you'll see another window with details about how much space you will save. Select the items you want to remove and click "OK" to remove these files permanently. MacOS users have a similar option called the Storage Management tool, which you can find by clicking the Apple logo at the upper-left of your menu bar, clicking "About This Mac," clicking "Storage," and choosing "Manage."

Clear Your Internet Cache

Browsing the Internet causes temporary files to be stored in a folder on your computer. Over time, this folder can store a significant amount of data, which will slow down your computer over time and take up valuable disk space. Each browser you use to access the Internet will have a cache that needs to be cleared regularly.
Generally, this is just a short process that involves opening up the settings of the browser and choosing the "Clear Cache," "Clear Data," and "Clear History" options. Follow the prompts in your browser to delete these items. You should notice that your computer and browser work faster after deleting temporary files.

Use Hard Drives to Maximize Storage

If your laptop storage begins to fill up, consider adding an external hard drive to store some of your files. This type of hard drive typically connects to your computer via a USB port, so it's simple to install and use. Once you connect a USB storage drive, optimize it so you get the best performance.
On a Windows machine, you can do this by opening Disk Management and right-clicking the USB drive from the list of disks. Choose "Properties," then "Policies," and then "Better Performance." Finally, activate "Enable Write Caching on the Device" and save the changes by clicking "OK."

Run a Spyware or Anti-Virus Program

Installing anti-virus and spyware software on a computer is a useful defense against software that can harm your operating system. Spyware and viruses are malicious programs that can enter a computer's operating system.
Once on the system, the programs can gather data to send to other devices. Some malicious programs also corrupt operating systems so they're unusable. Security software prevents these programs from infecting computers by blocking them. Many anti-virus programs also scan operating systems to find and delete malicious programs.

Regularly Run Updates

Software companies regularly release updates for their operating systems. To keep your computer safe and optimized, install all updates when they become available. Updates will resolve errors and bugs as well as address potential vulnerabilities in the operating system. Your laptop will often run faster after an upgrade because of optimizations for performance.
Check your Windows computer for updates by opening the Control Panel and selecting "Check for Updates," or check your Apple computer by going to the Apple menu and opening Software Update. The system will scan for available updates and will present a list of options. Select the updates you want to install and follow the instructions given.

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