Slow computer? Speed it up

Upgrades are fun. Putting new components into an aging computer, or getting a whole new computer brings almost a feeling of Zen: everything is working as it should be. Give it a few years and your once new machine is old, struggling to run new programs. It may seem like time to upgrade. Before you do however, you may be able to make your computer run faster.

Here’s six things you can do to speed up your Windows machine.

Reduce programs that start at startup
Any programs added to startup will be opened upon booting up of the computer. Programs that are resource intensive will cause a computer to be sluggish upon startup, and during operation as they will be open in the background. It’s a good idea to keep programs that open at startup to a minimum.

You can check what programs start up when your computer boots by clicking on the Start button and in the search box – the white box just above the start button – type: msconfig. This will open a window that allows you to configure parts of the OS. Click the Startup tab to see what programs open upon startup. Each program has a tick box beside it which you can unselect to stop the program from opening at startup. Unless you know exactly what all the programs on the list do, don’t click Disable all, just disable the programs you know and don’t want to open.

Remove bloatware
Bloatware is software that comes installed on the computer, usually with trial licenses, and is non-essential. This software is added by some vendors in an attempt to get a few extra dollars out of customers, and the more of it, the slower the computer will run. You can get rid of it through the Add/Remove or Programs and Features tools in the Control Panel. Again, if you’re not too sure what the program does, don’t uninstall it. Instead, contact your hardware vendor or IT for guidance.

Remove malware
Malware is any unwanted program that is of a malicious nature e.g., viruses and spyware. These programs will cause computer performance to drop. It’s important to install anti-virus programs and regularly run scans to find and delete, and keep malicious software off your computer.

Do a memory test
A computer’s memory, much like our own, fades over time, and will eventually ‘forget’ things. This is true for both the hard disk and Random Access Memory (RAM) – Both are forms of storage: Hard disks are for long-term storage, RAM is short term. With memory, RAM especially, prolonged use will cause it to be less effective, which means your computer will run programs  more slowly. Sometimes, adding RAM to a slow-running computer will be the ticket to making it run faster.

Upgrade to a solid state
Solid State Disks (SSD) are hard disks that don’t have many moving parts. They store data in memory cells that can be accessed faster than traditional hard disk storage methods. Many new laptops have an SSD with Windows installed on it which makes them incredibly fast, often able to boot in under five seconds. Adding an SSD to your machine and using it to store essential programs and data could dramatically increase speed. It does come at a price though and current SSDs are more expensive than their older hard disk counterparts. This is rapidly changing however, and you can probably find a good deal on lower capacity SSDs.

Defrag your system
If you don’t have an SSD, you could always defrag your hard disk. A new hard drive will store data in chunks that are located close to each other. As more data is placed on the disk, these chunks will move apart which means the computer has to access data located in different parts of the drive, taking it longer to access and thus slowing down your computer. Running a system defragmentation will push the parts back together for easier access.

You can, and should, run a disk defragmentation at least once a month, just be sure to do so when you won’t need your computer, as it could take a few hours. To schedule or conduct a defrag click on Start followed by Accessories, Systems Tools and Disk Defragmenter.

As computers get older, they will run slower. Luckily on Windows machines, you have options and tools that can help speed it up, or at least keep it at the current speed. If you have any questions about slow computers or would like to speed yours up, please contact us.

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