When you first bring home your new PC, or laptop–or whatever new device–it feels so fast, right? Over time, however, it seems like it gets slower and slower until one day you’re pulling your hair out waiting for it to boot up, or load a program. The decline in your PC performance is not your imagination. There are several causes for this, and the good news is that you don’t have to go buy a whole new computer, or pay an IT person to come fix it. There are a few very easy and very free ways you can give that old PC a speed boost.
Fix 1: Check for malware, which includes viruses, worms, trojans, etc. You should never, never, never go online—and don’t even think about downloads—if you don’t have antivirus or antimalware software activated on your computer, but even if you do have it, some bugs can get past your computer’s defenses. I like to use AVG antivirus, the free version, and I pair it with Malwarebytes, the free version (Those are links to the downloads if you’d like to install it). I find that they are more effective than the likes of Norton or McAfee, they’re free, and at the same time they don’t slow down your computer nearly as much.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed AVG and Malwarebytes, uninstall your previous antivirus completely (sometimes they have several different components that you have to uninstall individually. Make sure you get them all off), then run a full computer scan to ensure your computer is free of malware.
Fix 2: Quit being so demanding. Limit your multitasking. One of the best things about computers is the ability to run several programs simultaneously, but it doesn’t come without effort. Your computer runs slower when you leave thirty tabs open on your browser, have five different programs pulled up, and have twenty different photos open for editing at once. The computer is limited by the amount of RAM and processor speed to do all of this at the same time. So if you don’t want to deal with the intricacies of finding upgrade components that are compatible with your motherboard, buying them, then installing them, your best bet is to close programs and files that you aren’t using. Just go easy on your ageing PC. Okay?
Fix 3: Organize your hard drive! Most people think of their hard drive as a large storage room—if they think of their hard drive at all—and it’s an apt comparison. If your storage room was in absolute disarray with no organization or reason to the madness, how long would it take you to find something in there? Ten times longer than if things were ordered and labeled on shelves.
Likewise, having a fragmented hard drive means slower startup times and retrieval times. Defragmenting is your computer’s way of organizing the contents of your hard disk drive. If you are running versions of Windows Vista, 7 or 8 defragmenting is automatic. So unless you’ve turned off your weekly defrag schedule, you should be all set. If you’re still on XP… it’s time to move on, man (or woman). Microsoft no longer supports XP. But if you happen to be clinging to XP, you can run the disk defrag as often as you want to, just follow the directions on the link.
*note: solid state drives (SSD) don’t need defragging. In fact, it’s best if you don’t.
Fix 4: Make space. Have you ever been inside the house of a certified hoarder? It’s frightening, not to mention impossible to find anything…or move. Even if your storage room is organized, if every square inch of it is packed with junk it will still take for-e-ver to find anything. Same deal-io with the hard disk drive. You should always keep at least 30% of it free.
Ways to get extra space on your hard drive:
- Empty your recycling bin.
- Uninstall software that you no longer use, like syncing software for devices you don’t have any more, or older versions of Office, or anything that you don’t use.
- Delete files—documents, photos, videos, etc.—that you don’t use or need, on your desktop and in your folders–including your Downloads folder.
- For files you want to keep, but rarely if ever, need to access, back them up to a flash drive, or SD card, or external hard drive, or the cloud. Then delete those from your hard drive, too. That way you’ll have the comfort of knowing that you still have them, but they aren’t hogging the space on your hard drive and slowing you down. Keep in mind that media files are usually the biggest files, so pairing those down will probably make the biggest difference.
- Empty your recycling bin again.
So these are all things you can do yourself, and they cost nothing. I am the proud owner of a six year old PC. It was definitely running more sluggish than it had in its prime. After removing about 150 gigs of unnecessary files its running like a computer half its age again.
Try it out! It works.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
The only thing I would add is on step 4 when cleaning out old files is to be sure to check your ‘downloads’ folder. I had almost a gig of old stuff in there I didn’t need anymore. Thanks for the advice!
Oh, for sure. I forgot about that one. Great tip.