We’ve all been there. Your laptop takes forever to boot up, you keep seeing the spinning wheel or the blue screen of death, and your browser continuously crashes. It’s a waking nightmare when you realize your laptop is on the fritz. But whatever your computer’s symptoms might be, there are a few things you can do to try and speed it up. Let’s dive in and see if you can rescue your beloved laptop.
1. Run Disc Cleanup & Check for Viruses
First things first. Run a disc cleanup and check for viruses. To do this on PC, see here. To do this on a Mac, see here. Once you’ve run the disc cleanup, you should know whether or not there’s a bigger issue that needs to be addressed before you can move on and try a few other things that will help speed your computer up.
2. Use an External Hard Drive
Lack of space, or memory, in your laptop is a primary cause for slowing down. Instead of replacing your internal hard drive, look for a good deal on an external hard drive with the capacity you need.
What you’ll want to do is take a look at all the files you have living on your machine. Which ones do you use? Which ones have you not touched in months? Which ones do you need occasionally, but don’t need to access regularly? Once you figure that out, select all files that are unnecessarily taking up space on your machine and copy them to the new external hard drive. Verify that the files have been safely moved, then delete any duplicates from your local machine. This should free up a good amount of space.
3. …And on That Note, Utilize the Cloud
Any programs on your computer that house mass amounts of media files are taking up a lot of space on your machine. Instead of using programs like iTunes or Window Media Player, use programs that hold “files” in the cloud. For music, check out Spotify or Pandora. For photos, use DropBox, or iCloud. For text documents and presentations, check out Google Docs or Prezi. All of these cloud-based programs have companion mobile apps, which makes having access to your files super easy.
4. Get Rid of Applications You Never Use
From time to time, it’s important to take a look at all of the installed apps you have on your laptop. Take a quick poll and figure out which ones you use and which ones you haven’t used since you downloaded them months ago.
Uninstall or delete the unused ones — all they’re doing is taking up extra space on your computer. Make sure to delete the download files (and other unused files) from your trash or recycle bin, too! If you decide you made a mistake and want one of the applications back, you can always re-download.
5. Disable Programs that Open on Startup
Your machine might be slower than it needs to be due to applications that launch automatically when you boot up your computer. When it comes to speed, a simple change to what programs launch at startup will help your laptop run faster. If you want your computer to run faster, there’s no need to open a million things all at once if you don’t even plan to use them. Here’s how to do it on a PC, and here’s how to do it on a Mac.
6. Defragment Your Computer
Defragmenting or “defragging” is a maintenance task required by most traditional hard drives (the kind that have a spinning disc that holds its data). Essentially, when a hard drive becomes fragmented, it means that it has to work harder to read files because the data it’s looking to read is split up in multiple locations. Defragmenting puts the pieces of the file back in sequential order, which speeds things up. Not all computers require defragmentation, as many new ones (and all with solid state drives) will take care of it automatically. See here for the best defragmenting tools.
Once you’ve done the steps above, you may want to consider upgrading to the newest version of your operating system. While a new OS won’t free up space on your computer, it may be a good idea to have all the latest patches and features.
If your laptop continues to be sluggish because it’s simply too old and can’t run the applications you need, it may be time to retire it.
Did we miss any tips for improving computer performance? Let us know in the comments! Wishing your laptop a speedy recovery 😉