Your computer might have seemed speedy when you first got it, but the world has gotten even more fast-paced in the years since. New computers with more advanced processors, solid-state hard drives and Windows 10 can boot in 20 seconds or less, and open programs in a snap.
Smartphones and tablets are just as powerful as the computers of a few years ago and run lighter operating systems, so everything you do feels almost instant. How can your older system possibly compete?
You might be tempted to buy a new computer, but not so fast. Yes, new computers aren’t relatively expensive, but they’ll still set you back several hundred dollars, unless you go for a $130 one.
Before you spend any money on a new computer, there are a few things you can try to give your current system a bit more gas. We’re going to look at speeding up your startup, clearing out junk that slows things down and some programs that can give you a boost.
1. SPEED YOUR STARTUP
Does this sound familiar? You start your computer first thing in the morning, and it’s almost ready to use when you come home from work. That’s not uncommon on older machines.
Over time as you install more and more programs, many automatically start themselves when your computer starts. It creates a logjam as your computer has to move and process way more information than it should.
Take a load off your computer; fire up a program like Autoruns. It tells you exactly which programs are starting. Then you can tell unimportant programs not to run with a click.
Be ruthless; even programs you use regularly probably don’t need to load first thing. The big exception is your security software. It really does have to load at startup to keep you safe.
And don’t worry; you aren’t uninstalling any programs. If you find that you’re missing something important, you can always go back an enable it again.
Of course, there might be programs you do want to load at startup, but just not at the same time. TopWinPrio is a handy program for delaying less important startup items so they load but don’t bog down your computer.
2. FREE UP DRIVE SPACE
As a computer’s hard drive gets full, it will slow down the entire computer. You don’t even have to fill it up completely, even dropping below a few gigabytes of free space can be a drag.
If you find yourself with a full hard drive, it’s time to take action. A program like WinDirStat can tell you what files and folders are taking up room. You can then move the larger or infrequently used files to an external hard drive, or just delete them.
It may be that you have duplicate files clogging up your drive. A program like Duplicate Cleaner can make quick work of those.
You might find that the temporary files and folders for Windows and other programs have grown out of control. In that case, a program like CCleaner can clean them out fast. It’s a quick way to free up some space.
Just be careful to note everything it wants to clean so you don’t remove something important. If you don’t know what something is, or aren’t sure you want to clean it, uncheck it.
3. USE A FASTER BROWSER
You might find that your computer drags most when you’re surfing the Internet.
However, an old version of your browser could also be a culprit. You could also be using a slow browser, like Internet Explorer. Trying another browser like Firefox or Chrome could give you a nice speed boost.
Your browser might also be clogged with unwanted toolbars. These take up processing power to run and make every page load slower than it should.
If you try these steps and your computer is still dragging, it might need some hardware help. Replacing your hard drive with a solid-state drive can speed up your boot times quite a bit, and makes loading programs snappier.
Adding more memory, or RAM, can make your computer snappier when you have several programs running.
If your computer is more than 4 years old, however, it really might be time for a new one. Even today’s budget models will blow the doors off of it.