I’ve worked with computers for about half of my life. The biggest complaint I seem to get about them? They are so slow. Everything takes forever to load. Rebooting? Forget it – go get a cup of coffee. In this article I will go through most of the options you have available to get your computer back up to speed. Consider this a practical guide or how to tips on making your computer run faster.
Tips on Making Your Computer Run Faster
Even though we live in the age of Smartphones and Tablets. We still need to use our Computers. Unless you’re
crazy ‘Geeky’ enough to run Linux full time or have made the switch to Apple? You’re still on Windows. Which is perfectly fine. The only issue is that a Windows computer requires maintenance to keep it up to snuff. And unfortunately if you are reading this? You are probably not doing anything.
It’s the same as driving a car and never changing the oil in it. Eventually the motor is going to seize up. So block out some time open up the proverbial hood and let’s get to work!
Real quick before you get started. If you are using Windows 8 like I am? Were you aware that you can get your normal Windows Start Menu back? Click on the link to learn more about it. It’s free and will make your life a lot easier!
Reboot Your Computer!
Want the fastest way to fix Windows from running slow on your computer? Reboot it! I joke and say it resolves 99% of all Windows issues as well. If you own a Laptop or use the default power settings for your Desktop your computer will automatically go to sleep or ‘hibernate’ after a set period of time. Although this is a great feature as it pops your screen back up. After awhile it tends to start corrupting and figuratively falling apart.
So when in doubt Reboot!
Adjust Your Power Options
If you want to turn off hibernation mode? You can do this by adjusting your Windows Power Options. I have it set to never turn the computer off unless I tell it to (or the city power blinks off..). Windows does do a lot better job with Hibernation though than with past versions.
To change your Power Options go to your Control Panel -> All Control Panel Items -> Power Options -> Edit Plan Settings. I have it set to “High Performance” but you can adjust the settings under the default as well.
Oh, and I only suggest doing this for your Desktop. With your Laptop you will most want to leave the power settings alone.
Clean Up the Clutter
Are you one of those who has folders everywhere on your desktop? You have a million files scattered everywhere on your computer. And never able to find anything? Now is the time to get organized! Why do you want to do this though? Well your computer has to go around pulling that information up wasting valuable CPU and Memory to do it.
Unclutter Your Desktop!
I’ve seen screens where there are a virtually 1000’s of folders everywhere on the desktop screen. You couldn’t even see the Wallpaper they had there were so many folders. Although not as important as with past versions of Windows. Your computer performance will still take a hit. So please – clean up the clutter from your desktop!
Organize Your Folders
OK, I know this is me just being OCD. If you can’t find anything on your computer? Then it’s time to hunker down and organize things. You might find that you will be deleting a lot of unnecessary junk you don’t need. Especially if you went on that Grumpy Cat meme download binge. This will help you and your computer out. You will know what you have on your computer again, and you will end up getting some space back on that C: Drive that was just about to fill up.
Basic Windows Maintenance
Performing basic Windows Maintenance is good for your computer. Plus it will help free up disk space on your computer. Because if you fill up your C: Drive? Then your computer will definitely run REALLY slow.
Now Windows 8 has probably already been doing this for you and you weren’t even aware of it! This can be a good and a bad thing. Good in the sense that some type of basic maintenance is being done. Bad if you have SSD Hard Drives. Unfortunately besides performing a disk defrag you’ll still need to do some more manually to clean up everything.
[learn_more caption=”More about SSD Drives and Disk Defragmenting – Click to Read”]Part of that maintenance is doing Disk Defrag of your hard drive. Imagine a huge warehouse full of boxes and empty space. The way those boxes get placed are somewhat random. Now when a disk defrag is run? It will become the organizer of that huge warehouse. Re-stacking boxes in the way it knows how to do it so your computer can access data faster.
This becomes a bad thing with SSD drives whose life is somewhat limited on how much you access it. And a Disk Defrag means it’s going to be accessing it a lot – potentially limiting the overall lifespan of your hard drive.
The good news here is with newer versions of Windows it will know what type of hard drive you have and will never optimize it. [/learn_more]
Windows does a lot of stuff in the background that you never see. And it creates logs, error reports, temporary internet files etc. A lot of them. And they take up space right under your C: Drive filling it up with this information.
To clean it up all you need to do is (Windows 8) go to the top left of the desktop screen. Click on the Search icon. Type in “Disk Cleanup” and you should see the application disk cleanup.exe appear in the list of applications available.
Or do a search for ‘cleanmgr.exe’.
If you still can’t find it? Go to your Control Panel -> All Control Panel Items -> Administrative Tools -> Disk Cleanup.
Now check all of the boxes it displays. And click OK. It will prompt you asking if you really want to do this. Click Yes/OK again and let it run. I recently ran this and saved about 2 gigs of Hard Drive space!
Of course you could always get a free third party tool to help you too:
Read More: The Must Have Free Software List for Windows
Uninstall Unused Software
If you kept the Disk Cleanup tool up and running. You can now click on the More Options tab. It will take you to a shortcut for your Programs and Features menu.
This is where you can go through your list of installed software and uninstall anything you’re not using.
Why? Well it could be running in the background just sitting there sucking up CPU and RAM bogging down your computer. Plus they are taking up disk space.
Tip: All of those cute pointers, cursors and third party software you installed? They are most likely filled with spyware and are poorly written. Uninstall them as well!
Another good tip to follow here to keep you out of trouble: If you don’t know what it is? Google it first before uninstalling it! You might find its something that is still necessary to keep on your computer!
Control What Runs When You Boot Up
Ever wonder why your computer takes forever to boot up? Even though you’re running Windows 8? Take a look at what is trying to start when you turn your computer on. You will see things like Adobe, iTunes, and more in there.
If you’re already on top of updating your software? These aren’t needed.
You can disable these applications pretty easily too. Open up your Task Manager (Right Click on the Taskbar -> Left Click on Task Manager) and go to the Start up tab. Here you can disable what is allowed to start during boot up. Left click on the application you want to disable then click on the disable button. The changes will take effect once you reboot your computer.
If you’re on older versions of Windows? Click on Start -> Run then type “msconfig.exe” and click OK. Then go to the Startup tab inside of there and you will be able to modify/change what runs at start up.
If you want to remove the applications from Startup altogether? Then you will need CCleaner or Glary’s Utilities to help do this.
Tip: When in Doubt? Google it before making any changes. (Or ask me in the comment section.) It will save you a headache down the road 🙂
Another tip for a Quicker Boot up?
Go back to the MSConfig application again. Go to the “Boot” tab. Check the box that says “No GUI Boot” and click Apply. This will strip the animation from loading during boot up. So don’t be afraid if you’re staring at a blank screen for a few seconds during boot up!
Lose the “Frou-Frou” Windows Effects
When Microsoft introduced Aero effects to Windows they thought they were doing something right. And I agree it does look great. The only thing they did was kill your computer’s performance. Especially on older systems. If you want your computer to be a bit more snappy? Then strip all of those features and make it look like Windows again.
Update: This tip does not turn off Aero. It only disables a lot of the crazy effects that are wasted resources. I do not ever suggest turning off Aero altogether as it is useful. It transfers some of the work from your CPU to your GPU (Graphics) and you get a gain in performance because of it. To do this:
- Go to your Control Panel -> System -> Advanced System Settings.
- A new window pops up already on the Advanced Tab. Click on the Settings button under Performance
- Select the option ‘Adjust for Best Performance’.
- Click Apply and give it a minute to take effect.
Now although it might not be as pretty as it was? It will run a bit more snappy when you’re using Windows now.
Scan and Your Registry
Update: There is a lot of debate on whether this is something you even need to do with Windows nowadays. I run a registry scan on my computer about once every six months. I’ve never had an issue with it. But – just to be safe. Don’t do this step if you don’t feel comfortable doing it. I’d hate to be the cause of anything happening to your computer.
This is a bit more tricky if you are not very computer savvy. So again, please feel free to skip over this.
If you’ve had your computer for awhile it is most likely full of junk. Empty entries, entries that point to nowhere. Just sitting there taking up space and forcing Windows to do extra work. The problems start when you uninstall software on your computer, or say if Windows did an update.
To clean up your registry you will need a free tool like CCleaner or Glary’s Utilities to do the work for you.
Tip: Make sure to Backup your Registry when prompted!
[learn_more caption=”More About Your Windows Registry – Click to Read”] Your registry is like the old library’s Dewey Decimal System. In it are literally millions of entries telling your computer how to do things, where applications are located, and also stores a lot of information there as well. You computer has to scan through this mess in order for it to be able to run. Its a very inefficient system but that’s how Windows does things and probably will continue to do so forever. [/learn_more]
Keep Your Drivers Up to Date
Keeping your drivers up to date is pretty simple now. Windows Update will find 99% of them for you. If you are using higher end components especially a video or sound card? You will want to go to the manufacturers website and see if they have updated drivers there. This will ensure that your computer isn’t lagging behind.
There is also a free tool out that will find and update your computer for you called Slim Drivers. This will find what Windows and you can’t. I’ve been testing and using it for awhile now and I have to say I really do like it.
Keep Your Software Up to Date Too!
On the other hand – you need to keep on your software up to date as well. This isn’t only good for your Windows Performance. Software vendors usually provide important security updates as well!
Clean Up Viruses and Malware
This is the biggest thing you can do to improve overall performance on your computer. All of those popups, browser toolbars, and hidden malware/spyware on your computer sit there taking up all of your computers resources slowing it down. Good news is I’ve written an entire article on how to going about removing this kind of junk:
Speed Up Your Internet
If you are using a fast ISP connection such as Cable or one of the lucky few on Google Fiber? You can still speed up your connection a bit. By switching to OpenDNS.
Using their free third party DNS connectivity will give you a noticeable improvement while browsing around on the web. And if you have kids? You can opt for filtering what is allowed onto your network!
You can use OpenDNS for just about any type of Internet device. If you want to run your home wireless on it you can. Take a look at the OpenDNS forums on how to configure it to work with your version of Windows, MAC, Linux, and more!
Read More: How to Protect Your Computer From Your Kids
Note: OpenDNS will not help you much if you have a slow connection. If you’re still on dial up or DSL service? It might be time to look for an upgrade on your Internet Provider.
Time for an Upgrade
If you’ve had your computer for awhile? Then it might be time to upgrade. It might just breathe new life into your Desktop or Laptop. And it will definitely be cheaper than just replacing the whole thing. So what typically can you upgrade? (Example links go to Amazon and are affiliate links)
- CPU – You might be able to upgrade the processor of your computer. Getting a newer version means you will get more overall power to your computer. This can get expensive though if your not careful! Example: Intel Core i7-3770 Quad-Core Processor 3.4 GHz 4 Core LGA 1155 – BX80637I73770
- Hard Drive** – Switching to an SSD drive can be expensive. They are continuously going down in price though. The performance benefit you will see from switching is pretty dramatic. Everything will just run so much faster since it doesn’t have all the traditional moving parts of your old platter drive. Expect to pay around $150.00 and remember you will have to re-install your Operating System. Example: Samsung Electronics 840 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Single Unit Version Internal Solid State Drive MZ-7TE250BW
- Memory** – I swear it seems you can never get enough of this stuff in your computer. I currently have 6 Gigs of RAM. You would think that would be enough! Nope… with Windows eating up 2 Gigs right upon startup I now only have 4 Gigs to work with. This is one of the cheaper upgrades you can do to help improve your overall computer’s performance. Example: Kingston HyperX FURY 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL10 DIMM – Black (HX316C10FBK2/8)
- Video Card – If you do any type of PC Gaming? Then this will be the big purchase that you will want to make that will improve your PC Gaming experience. Expect to spend around $200.00 for a decent upgrade. Example: Sapphire Radeon R9 270X 4GB GDDR5 DVI-I/DVI-D/HDMI/DP Dual-X with Boost and OC version PCI-Express Graphics Card 11217-04-20G
Note: I highly suggest working with your Computer’s manufacturer before going out and purchasing any components. Or find a reputable computer guy in your area to assist and see if its worth upgrading your computer. ** With Laptops you will typically only be able to upgrade your RAM and your Hard Drive.
Time for a Replacement?
You’ve gone through the whole list, and its still not doing what you need it to do? It might be time to replace your computer. I usually give a computer a lifespan of about 3-5 years depending on the hardware inside of it.
The good news is due to the influx of Tablets, Chromebooks, and other devices out there? Computers are getting really cheap! The only thing you need to do now is figure out:
Some Final Tips and Words of Wisdom
I know this a lot of information. And some of these tips can seem pretty scary. I suggest that you do the following while messing with your Windows settings:
- I’ve provided some free third party tools for you to use to make it easier to do the tasks mentioned. Sure, you can do it all ‘by hand’ if you want to. But if a free tool can do the work for you saving you time then why not just use it?
- Go slow. This isn’t a race. Nor do you have to do all of these all at once.
- Make a change – then test to see how it affects your computer. Again DO NOT do all of these at once. If you run into an issue? You’ll be mad screaming into the monitor at me for getting you to do all of this crap. So here’s me saying DON’T DO THAT.
- When I say “Make a Backup” I mean it. Make sure you have a Restore Point setup with Windows you can roll back to. It’s definitely a time saver.
Have Any More Tips?
So have any other tips you would like to add to the list? Leave a comment below with what they are. If I like them? I’ll add it to the article and make sure to mention you! Copyright: kirillm / 123RF Stock Photo