Whether you’re working, shopping, or even playing online, there is nothing more frustrating than a slow computer. Since most of us aren’t exactly in a position to rush out and grab a brand new one, there are several steps you can take to make your computer run faster now. And best of all? These six steps are absolutely free!
1) Shut off unneeded services and start-up programs. When you first log onto your computer, dozens of programs and services start up automatically—most of which you don’t need, and many of which you’re not even aware. For detailed instructions on shutting off these programs, click here for Macs, or click here for PCs.
2) Clean out the junk! This might be the easiest step to speeding up your computer. Just go through your files and delete any temporary ones, uninstall any applications that you haven’t used in the last six months or so, and clean up your desktop. Having lots of files sit on your desktop actually slows your computer down. If you don’t want to trash the files on your desktop, just drag them into your documents.
3) Turn off the graphics. On a lot of new computers, fancy effects and animations slow down our computers without us even realizing it. For Windows Vista, to turn these off, just right click the desktop and select “personalize.” Under color and appearance, follow the ‘open classic appearance properties’ link, and then select the basic theme to disable fancy graphics. For more basic computers, just go to “system,” select “preferences,” and then open “appearance.” Where it says “Visual Effects,” simply select “none.”
4) “Defrag” your hard drive. Defragmenting (“defragging”) will make your files more quickly accessible. Windows and Vista both have a built-in defragmenting solution, but it’s better to use a third party solution like Auslogics Disk Defrag (at no cost to you!) And Mac and Linux users, don’t worry about defragmenting.
5) Scan for viruses, spyware, and adware. All Windows computers are vulnerable to viruses, which are nasty little programs that can cause major and minor problems (like slowing down your computer.) Similarly, spyware and adware can slow you down, though they’re not generally intended for malicious purposes. For a detailed instructional video on how to scan for these programs and get rid of them, click here.
6) Reinstall the Operating System and Programs. Say you do all of the above and your computer is still running slower than you’d like. You might consider reinstalling the operating system and all of your programs. Basically, you’ll need to backup all of the files you want to keep (save them to an external hard drive or disk), wipe your hard drive clean, and then, with the disks that came with the computer, reinstall. Once it’s up and running, you can reinstall your favorite programs and your files.
The good thing about this approach is that it’s almost like working on a new computer—no gunk and buildup files from years of use. The bad thing is, it takes some time and planning to do it right. But if you are working on an old, slow computer, this might be your best route.
Do you have any tips on speeding up a slow computer? Share the knowledge below!