How to Speed Up Your Computer

Breath new life into your computer

Last updated: 24th July 2023.

We've all experienced the frustration of a computer that used to be fast and responsive to suddenly slowing down to a crawl. But there's no need to worry, as there are a few simple steps you can take to get your computer back up to speed and running smoothly once again.

1. Spring clean your hard disk

Over time, our computers can become slower and less responsive due to the accumulation of unnecessary files. Luckily, there's a built-in tool in Windows that can help us with this problem. To access this tool, simply navigate to the Start menu, click on All Programs, then go to Accessories and click on System Tools. From there, you can easily launch Disk Cleanup and free up valuable space on your computer.

You will be presented with a list of types of files you have the option to delete. You can safely tick any of these boxes. Just make sure there’s nothing in your Recycle Bin that you want to save, or any Offline web pages you want to keep, first. Once you’ve ticked the types of files you want to delete, click ‘OK’ and wait a few minutes while the tool does its job.

2. Defragment your hard disk

To keep your computer running smoothly, it's important to regularly defragment your hard disk. This will help to ensure that data is stored in an organized and efficient manner, reducing the amount of work your hard disk has to do to find everything it needs. To defragment your hard disk, simply go to your computer's system tools and follow the prompts to start the process. It may take some time, but it will be worth it in the long run to keep your computer running smoothly and efficiently.

3. Scan your PC for malware

It's important to be aware of the various types of software that can harm your computer and potentially steal important information from you. Malware is a term that encompasses many different types of malicious software, including viruses and spyware. These programs can infiltrate your PC and slow it down, while also potentially causing other types of harm. It's always a good idea to have reliable antivirus software installed and to take caution when downloading or opening any unfamiliar files or emails.

It's a good idea to scan your computer regularly for malware to keep it running smoothly. There are many options for anti-virus and Internet security software available, so it's important to choose a trusted brand.

4. Uninstall the programs you no longer need

If you've been using your computer for a while, it's likely that you've installed many programs that are no longer useful to you. These programs can take up valuable hard disk space and even run in the background, which can cause your PC to slow down. It's always a good idea to go through your installed programs regularly and remove any that you no longer require. This can help free up space and keep your computer running smoothly.

5. Repair Disk errors

One possible outcome of hard disk faults is a slower computer. Luckily, Windows has a built-in tool that can help fix these issues. To access it, go to the Start menu and search for "Disk Cleanup." Once the tool opens, select the drive you want to clean up and let the program scan it for unnecessary files. You can then choose which files to delete to free up space and potentially improve your computer's performance. Remember to regularly clean up your hard drive to keep your PC running smoothly.

6. Give your computer a memory boost

RAM (Random Access Memory) is your computer’s “short term memory”. The more it has to work with, the faster it will run. RAM is cheap these days, meaning that you can get a speed boost relatively inexpensively.

If you don’t feel confident with opening your computer and modifying it, it’s best to rely on an experienced friend or a computer repair shop. Do make sure you ask around for a number of quotes first though, to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

7. Give your PC a ‘ReadyBoost’

If you’re using Windows 7, you can add extra RAM to your system without having to physically install extra memory. This is a much easier thing to do. Simply insert a USB flash drive into a free USB port on your computer. Click ‘Start’ and ‘My Computer’. Now find the flash drive on the list of drives and right-click it. Now click ‘Autoplay’. This will reveal some options. Choose ‘General options’, then ‘Speed up my system’. Now select ‘Properties’ and choose the ‘ReadyBoost’ tab.

You now have the choice between using the whole of the flash drive to give your system extra memory (select ‘Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost’), or if you want to reserve some space on the drive for shared files, click ‘Use this device’ and then select how much space you would like to be used by ReadyBoost.

8. Stop unneeded programs from running in the background

One of the fastest, easiest ways to speed up your PC is to make sure that only programs you need are running in the background.

To do this in Windows XP, press the ‘Ctrl’, ‘Alt’ and ‘Del’ keys together, opening the Task Manager. The safest thing to do its to stick to the ‘Applications’ tab. This will list all the programs currently running. Select any that you don’t need and click ‘End Task’ to close them.

With Windows Vista and Windows 7, press ‘Ctrl’, ‘Alt’ and ‘Esc’. This will open the Task Manager. Go to the ‘Applications’ tab. This will list all the programs currently running. Select any that you don’t need and click ‘End Task’ to close them.

9. Switch off fancy graphical effects

Windows Vista and Windows 7 have graphical effects built in that can be attractive to look at but can really slow your computer down. These effects are collectively called ‘Aero’ and it’s easy to disable them.

To switch off Aero in Windows Vista, right-click your computer desktop, click ‘Personalize’, then click “Window color and appearance”, click “Open classic appearance properties for more color options” and finally select ‘Windows Vista Basic’ and then ‘OK’.

To switch off Aero in Windows 7, right-click your computer desktop and click ‘Personalize’. Then, scroll through the available themes and select ‘Basic theme’.

10. Install a new graphics card

This is another tip that may require the help of an experienced computer repair person but can been a great way of getting extra speed out of your machine. Using a dedicated graphics card takes the strain off your computer’s central processor by taking on the work of displaying graphics on screen. If you play a lot of games or watch a lot videos, you may find this is makes your experience a lot more pleasurable.

If you’re unsure which card to get, ask an experienced friend or an expert at a computer store for advice. This will make sure that it is the right choice for you and will work with your computer.

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