7 Ways to Help Your Computer Run Faster

There are many contributing factors that cause computers to become slower and less responsive, no matter how old they are. When this happens you experience the frustration of files taking longer to open, and applications that respond to your commands at a snail's pace. Luckily, there are ways to improve your computer's performance - most of them are very simple.

Here are seven steps to take to speed up your computer:

1. Remove Preloaded Programs That You Do Not Want

Most computers come preloaded with unnecessary programs (aka bloatware) that manufacturers push on users. These applications use resources on your computer (space on your hard drive, consume memory (RAM), and also consume CPU cycles). This slows down your computer when you need those resources for the programs you really want to run. Uninstalling these preloaded programs will free up space and boost your computer's performance by ensuring no resources go to waste unnecessarily.

2. Do Not Keep Programs Open Which Are Not In Use

Each computer has a finite amount of resources available to it. Therefore, the general rule is that if you run many programs simultaneously you will bog down your computer. If you are not actively using or working with a program, then close it to free up resources and improve your computer's speed. Also, this helps you cut down on any distractions, which will aid you getting work done quicker!

3. Switch to a "High Performance" Power Plan

Windows operating systems provide three power plans: High Performance, Balanced, and Power Saver. These options allow you to manage how your computer uses power, and also its performance based on power usage. Not surprisingly, the High Performance plan maximises performance. However, do note that in an age where responsible energy consumption is promoted, this plan will allow your computer to use more energy.

The default setting for Windows computers is the Balanced power plan. If you wish to change this setting go to the Control Panel, select "System and Security" (Windows 7 and later versions) or "System and Maintenance" (Windows Vista), and select "Power Options".

4. Install Additional RAM

By adding more RAM (Random Access Memory) to most computers, especially older ones, you are very likely to see quite significant gains in performance. Some newer computers, particularly high spec machines, would have less obvious boosts in performance since they typically already have enough RAM to go round for all the applications that run on the computer. As a rule of thumb, the more RAM your computer has, the less an upgrade will help to speed it up, according to experts. For example, upgrading from 16 gigabytes (GB) to 32GB will not have as noticeable impact as upgrading from 2GB to 4GB.

In the majority of circumstances the effects of upgrading beyond 4GB of RAM will depend on the specification of the other hardware in the machine. By installing a lot of RAM into a relatively cheap system you may be shooting yourself in the foot as there will likely be a bottleneck elsewhere which counteracts the addition of masses of RAM.

5. Switch to an SSD

Without doubt, one of the most effective ways to dramatically improve your computer's performance is to upgrade the hard drive to an SSD (Solid State Drive). SSDs are many times faster than ordinary HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) when reading and writing data. Whereas SSDs were very expensive when the technology was still very new, they have become far more affordable, thus qualifying them as a cost-effective solution to enhance your computer's speed.

6. Reinstall Your Operating System

Over time, various types of junk can accumulate in your computer's operating system. One example is where you uninstall an application and you are unaware that the process has left remnants such as registry entries, icons, and leftover data. By reinstalling your operating system you clear out all the junk which invariably boosts performance. Note however that this option is time consuming. Not only would you need to reinstall the operating system but you would also have to reinstall all your programs, drivers, and peripherals such as printers etc, as well as restore all your files from backups. Unfortunately in some cases this is the only way forward due to the poor state that the operating system may be in after many years of operation.

7. Refresh Windows

A very useful feature in Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 is the refresh feature, which removes accumulated garbage. This feature effectively reinstalls the operating system but leaves settings, user files, and user accounts intact. In Windows 8.1, all applications are automatically reinstalled including any that may have been downloaded from the Windows store and those that came with the computer. Any others would need to be manually reinstalled. With Windows 10, you need to reinstall all your applications, except those that came with the computer.

Actions to Avoid

Besides knowing the 7 tips above, it is helpful to know which actions to avoid when trying to speed your computer up. Despite what information exists on the Internet, you should avoid doing anything you do not fully understand. For example making changes to the registry, or disabling startup items. Should this be done incorrectly, you are likely to harm your operating system and this will cause serious problems. Older methods of boosting performance are less effective these days, such as defragmenting hard drives and clearing temp files. Whereas this is good practice, you may be disappointed by doing so if you were looking to increase performance. Your IT service provider will be able to direct you as to the best ways boost the speed of your computer, given various factors such as its hardware and applications, as well as your usage habits.