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14 Ways to Speed Up your Computer

 


Don't you hate it when you are trying to run a program or copy a file and things seem to load or copy so much slower than they used to? Does your computer seem to be slowing down? I think we have all been there. The good news is that there is usually something that you can do about it. Here are some tips for you to follow to try to make your computer faster again.

We are going to check out:

  • Upgrading your RAM
  • Switching to an SSD
  • Keeping things up to date
  • Checking for malware
  • Removing junk
  • Cleaning things up
  • Disabling certain settings
  • Rebooting
Let's get started. Just start at the top and try any tips that make sense for your situation.

Upgrade Your RAM


This is a relatively inexpensive way to make a big difference in both how smooth your computer runs and it's speed. RAM (or Random Access Memory) is a necessary component of your PC. What is it? When you run a program the work or play that you are doing happens in RAM. The more RAM you have the more that you can do at once. If you don't have enough RAM you will find that your system will run slower and even stop working at times. Upgrading your RAM is an easy way to make a huge difference. You can either do it on your own or take it to a computer shop and have a pro do it for you. It isn't hard to do it yourself. Here is a video that should help you get started.


How much RAM do I recommend? First I will say that you should never go below 8 GB. If you have below that you are going to run into slow downs and a less than smooth experience running modern software and operating systems. If you want to make sure you have a smooth experience for the foreseeable future:

  • For regular usage and most gaming: 16GB
  • For heavier gaming and video editing: 32 GB
The best advice that I can give is to get as much RAM as you can afford and your computer can take.

Switch to an SSD


What is an SSD and why would you want one? In your computer you either have a SSD or a HDD. Here are some definitions:

  • SSD stands for Solid State Drive. It uses flash-based memory which is much faster than than a traditional hard drive. Also, it doesn't contain a spinning disk so it is more durable and stable.
  • HDD stands for Hard Disk Drive. A HDD is far slower than a SSD. It is made up of spinning platters and a moving read/write head. A HDD is not nearly as durable as a SSD.
What can faster storage do for you?

  • Programs will open more quickly.
  • Games will load faster.
  • Files will copy more quickly.
  • Backing up your important files can be accomplished far faster.
  • Booting up and shutting down your computer will be much faster.
Believe me when I say that if you upgrade to an SSD and more RAM you will notice a big difference. Here are some videos that might help get you started:

Desktop:


Laptop:




Update Windows


I can't stress enough how important it is to keep your operating system up to date. If you don't update Windows you will miss out on:

  • Important security updates
  • New features
  • Fixes for stability issues
Keeping Windows up to date is easy. Here is how to do it.

  1. Click "Start".
  2. Click "Settings".
  3. Click Update & Security.
  4. Click the "Download" button. If you see a "Check" button click it and then click "Download" when Windows is done checking for updates.

Update Device Drivers


Drivers are programs that help your hardware and Windows communicate. if your drivers get too out of date you could find:

  • Hardware may start experiencing issues.
  • Hardware no longer working.
  • Security vulnerabilities.
All of this can equal slower performance. Windows has made it easy to check for driver updates.

  1. Open Device Manager. You can find it by clicking "Start" and then typing "Device Manager" (without the quotes). When it opens you will see a list of categories. 


  2. To update a driver expand the appropriate category and right click on the driver you want to check for updates for. Then choose "Update Driver".  


One word of advice. I would recommend getting graphics drivers from the manufacturer of your Graphics Processing Unit. That is the best way to make sure you have the most up to date version.

Update Applications


Applications are the programs that you use on your computer like Word, Photoshop, and Google Chrome. Keeping your applications up to date is important for some of the same reasons as Windows and drivers. Updating your applications is important to:

  • Get bug fixes to increase stability.
  • Patch security vulnerabilities.
  • Receive new features.
It is a good idea to check to see if there are updates to your software periodically. Some titles allow you to update from within the program itself, others you will need to go to the publishers website to check for an up to date version.

Check for Malware

Viruses, trojans, worms, and ransomware are just some of the nastier surprises the Internet has to offer. They can do anything from slow down your computer to seriously damaging your system. They can block access to your files, steal your information, and more. To protect yourself you should at least:

  • Make sure Windows Firewall is turned. It is by default.
  • Run up to date antivirus.
  • Do occasional antimalware scans. I recommend weekly.
At the very least check in your settings to make sure Windows Firewall and Defender are on and install Malwarebytes.

Here is how to scan with Malwarebytes and be protected by it and Windows Defender at the same time.

  1. First go into your Windows settings and make sure that Windows Defender is turned on.
  2. Download Malwarebytes. When the download is finished install it. You don't have to buy it. The free version is good enough to scan for threats. You will have the premium version free for 14 days. After that the program will change to the free version.
  3. Click the button that looks like a gear. Your settings will open.
  4. Click the "Check for updates" button.
  5. Close the program's settings.
  6. Click "Scan".
  7. When the scan is done quarantine the bad stuff.

Uninstall Unused Programs

Programs that you no longer use and don't forsee using any time soon just take up space and impact your system resources by leaving services running in the background. It's time to do some cleaning up.

  1. Click "Start".
  2. Click "Settings".
  3. Click "Apps".
  4. Go through your installed apps and uninstall the ones you no longer want.

Disable Unnecessary Startup Items

The more programs you have starting up every time Windows boots the more bogged down your system can become. This is an easy one to fix.

  1. Right click on your Taskbar.
  2. Click "Task Manager".
  3. Click the "Startup" tab.
  4. From the list provided right click on entries that you no longer want starting automatically and choose "Disable".
After that you can look at your System Tray to see if there are any other programs that you need to stop from automatically starting. If you like you can go into Windows Services to make some tweaks but you should only do so with caution. If you aren't careful with Windows Services you can inadvertently cause your apps or even Windows itself to stop functioning properly.

Remove Unnecessary Browser Extensions

Don't get me wrong, extensions add amazing functionality to your web browser. Keep in mind though that the more browser extensions you use the more your browser can bog down. Another issue is that out of date extensions can create security vulnerabilities. Take a look at the browser extensions you have installed. It's easy to remove the ones that you no longer want. Here is how to do it in Chrome and Firefox.

Chrome:

  1. Open the menu, select "More tools", and click "Extensions". 


  2. Click the "Remove" button on the extensions that you want to remove. 


Firefox:

  1. Open the menu and click "Add-ons". 


  2. Make sure "Extensions" is selected. 


  3. Switch off the ones you no longer want. 


Clean Out Your System

Over time a Windows system can get bogged down with junk. It can be left over bits and pieces of incomplete uninstalls, old logs, files that you no longer need, or programs that aren't useful to you any longer. There are a number of ways to clean things up. I am recommending checking your Downloads folder and setting up Storage Sense. If you want to go further you can download and run CCleaner. If you do, make sure you pay attention when installing to make sure that nothing else is bundled with it and when running a scan make sure that you only clean out parts of your system that you really want to. Let's get started.

Check Downloads Folder

  1. Click the File Explorer icon on your Taskbar. 


  2. Open the Downloads folder. 


  3. Delete any items that you no longer need there.
Set Up Storage Sense

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click "Settings". It will be the gear button on the left side of the Start Menu.
  3. Click "System".
  4. Click "Storage".
  5. Make sure Storage Sense is set to On.
  6. Click "Configure Storage Sense or run it now".
  7. Select how often to run Storage Sense. You have a choice between every day, every week, every month, or during low disk space. I have it set on my PC to every week.
  8. Make sure "Delete temporary files that my apps aren't using" has a check beside it.
  9. Choose what gets deleted in the Recycle Bin. You have a choice between 1 day, 14 days, 30 days, 60 days, or never. I have mine set to delete items in the Recycle Bin that have been there for 14 days. I set it up this way so I can easily bring something back if I need to. Set yours in a way that makes sense to you.
  10. Choose what to delete in your Downloads folder. Again, you have a choice between 1 day, 14 days, 30 days, 60 days, or never. For my PC I chose never because I would rather delete downloads manually so I don't lose anything that I still want.
  11. Choose if you want to allow Storage Sense to delete previous versions of Windows. I wouldn't worry about this one. It will only delete a previous version of Windows after you install a new version. Windows deletes the previous version after 10 days anyway.
  12. Choose your options that are related to OneDrive if you have it installed.
  13. Click "Clean Now".

Disable File Indexing

File Indexing makes your searches on Windows faster. That sounds pretty good on the surface. The trade off for the faster searches is that it can negatively impact the overall performance of your system. It can be safely turned off.

  1. Hold down the Windows key and press the R key.
  2. Type "services.msc" (without the quotes) in the Run window. Hit the Enter key.
  3. In the Services list scroll down to "Windows Search".
  4. Double click Windows Search.
  5. Where it says "Startup type:" select "Disabled."
  6. Click the "Stop" button.
  7. Click the "Apply" and "OK" buttons to save your changes.

Adjust Visual Effects

Windows has come a long way over the years when it comes to features, security, and appearance. Check out how much Windows has changed visually:

Windows 1.01 


Windows 2.11 


Windows 3.1 


Windows 95 


Windows 98 


Windows XP 



Windows 7 


Windows 10 

Things have a much slicker and prettier look than they did in the beginning. Animations, peek, shading, sliding menu items, thumbnail previews, shadows, smooth edges, and more make for a very visually pleasing experience. If you have plenty of system resources all of these visual enhancements probably won't have much if any noticeable impact on your performance. On the other hand if you have more of a low end computer they can be a slow down. Here is how to adjust the visuals on your PC.

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type "Control Panel" (without the quotes) and hit the Enter key.
  3. Make sure to choose "Large Icons". 


  4. Click "System".
  5. Click "Advanced system settings".
  6. In the Advanced tab click "Settings" under "Performance".
  7. Go through the list and remove the checkmark by any items that you want to turn off.
  8. Click the "Apply" and "OK" buttons.

Defragment Your Hard Drive

What is fragmentation? Fragmentation occurs on your hard drive when a file is broken into pieces to fit on your drive. In Windows files are created, deleted and changed all the time. When pieces of files are spread over several locations the file is fragmented. This can have the effect of slowing things down when you try to access them. That is where defragmenting comes in. When you defragment your drive it can speed file access up by reconsolidating your files so they aren't scattered all over the place.

One word of warning: If you have a Solid State Drive rather than a Hard Drive do not defrag it. Solid State Drives work differently than traditional Hard Drives. They do not need defragmenting and doing so can cause wear and tear and reduce it's lifespan.

How to defrag your Hard Drive:

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type "defrag" (without the quotes) and hit the Enter key.
  3. Click the "Optimize" button.

Reboot Regularly

Rebooting your computer occasionaly can help you to have a faster, smother, and overall a more pleasant computing experience. Here are some of the benefits:

  • It will flush your memory.
  • Stops memory leaks you are currently experiencing.
  • It can speed things up.
  • It can help resolve certain problems.
My recommendation is to reboot at least a couple times a week if possible.

If you follow the recommendations listed above you should notice a difference in the speed of your computer. If you are still experiencing problems there could be several possible causes but the likely reason is either you are having hardware problems, Windows itself is damaged in some way, full or slow hard drive, or you need to upgrade your RAM. If nothing else, it may be time to replace your PC if it is older and having a hard time keeping up with modern Operating Systems and software. 

Tech on and have the best day.

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