Quick ways to speed up your computer

Quick ways to speed up your computer

by Irene Park

Much like humans, computers can start turning sluggish as time passes. But before you toss away your computer and start shopping for a new one because of how frustratingly long it takes to do everything and anything, there are many ways to speed up your device!

The good news is that you can easily speed up your computer by making a few changes and/or using a piece of software to get you back running more smoothly and swiftly.

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how to speed up a pc computer

How to speed up a Windows computer

Each operating system has its own dynamic that can lead to sluggishness. Below is a list of actions you can take to speed up computers running Windows:

1. Update, Update, Update:

Make sure your operating system is up-to-date.  Sometimes there are updates that your computer needs to run optimally. Additionally, as you keep your operating system up-to-date, you may need to update your drivers to match up to the changes. The older drivers are optimized to work with older operating systems and can cause error messages in addition to slow downs if not updated to work with the current operating system.

On a Windows 10 Computer:

  • Click the ‘Start’ button
  • Click ‘Settings’
  • Click ‘Update & Security’
  • Click ‘Windows Update’
  • Select ‘Check for updates’

2. Close unnecessary programs:

Sometimes programs continue to run in the background long after you stopped using it. Having many programs running can slow your computer’s performance.

On most versions of Windows:

  • Use the keyboard shortcuts: Hold down Ctrl + Alt + Delete
  • Select ‘Start Task Manager’
  • Select the program you don’t want open then click ‘End Task’

3. Uninstall unused programs or apps:

All those programs you downloaded a while back but don’t use anymore are still taking up disk space. You can uninstall those programs to free up disk space to help your computer run faster.

On a Windows 10, you can do this by:

  • Click ‘Start’ button
  • Select ‘Settings’
  • Select ‘Apps’
  • Select ‘Apps & features’
  • Look for the specific app you don’t want to use or that uses up the most space, select it from the list then select ‘Uninstall’
  • Restart the computer to see if there is an improvement in performance

Use a program to Uninstall:

If you prefer to skip all the manual steps, you can use a program like our #1 antivirus pick, TotalAV, which has an option called ‘Application Uninstaller’, which will scan for and remove unwanted apps for you.  More on that below.

4. Readyboost:

You can use a removable USB flash drive or memory card with at least 500 MB of free space (and a high transfer rate) to improve your computer’s performance without having to open your PC and add more memory. The extra memory acts as cache memory, to speed up, for example, the loading or editing of large files.

On Windows 10:

  • Insert your USB flash drive or memory card into your PC
  • If an icon of your drive or memory card doesn’t show up on your desktop or new window, select ‘File Explorer’ from the task bar
  • Right-click the flash drive or memory card, and select ‘Properties’
  • Click ‘ReadyBoost’ tab and select ‘Use this device’
  • If Windows can use this device, it’ll tell you how much free space their is to optimize
  • Click ‘OK’ to use that space for ReadyBoost
  • You’ll see a file named ReadyBoost.sfcache on your drive or memory card to show it is used for Readyboost

Please note: It will not work with Windows with a Solid State Drive (SSD)

Related: Best hard drives to back up your devices

5. Run automatic page file management:

Windows uses ‘paging file’ on your hard disk ….like memory. You can turn on a way to manage page file size automatically, which will improve your computer’s performance.

To make sure automatic page file management is turned on (on Windows 10):

  • Type ‘advanced system’ in the search box on the taskbar
  • Select ‘View advanced system settings’
  • Select the ‘Advanced’ tab in System Properties
  • Select ‘Settings’ in the Performance section
  • Select the Advanced tab in ‘Performance Options’
  • Select ‘Change in the Virtual memory’ area
  • If it isn’t already, select the check box for ‘Automatically manage paging file size for all drives’
  • Restart your computer to make sure this new setting is in effect

6. Run your Antivirus program:

A slow computer could be a sign that your system has been compromised or laden with malware. You can use Windows Defender as laid out in Windows Defender vs Antivirus software: free protection falls short, or you can use an award-winning program like our #1 pick TotalAV.  Read more of our review of Best Antivirus Protection here.

7. Free up disk space:

Not having enough disk space available will stop your computer from running optimally.

If you’re running Windows 10, you can use ‘Storage Sense’ to delete unnecessary or temporary files from your device to free up space. Once turned on, Windows will automatically free up disc space by getting rid of unnecessary files, including those in your recycling bin. You can designate whether it runs when you have low disk space or at specific intervals.

How to use Storage Sense (Windows 10) to free up disk space:

  • Click the ‘Start’ button
  • Select ‘Settings’, ’System’ then ‘Storage’
  • Select ‘Temporary Files’ in the listed storage options
  • Select items you want deleted then select ‘Remove files’

How to easily use a program to free up disk space:

If you prefer to skip all the manual steps, you can use a program like our #1 pick for antivirus: TotalAV, which comes with an option called ‘Junk Cleaner’ which will scan for and remove unnecessary or junk files for you. It also has an option called ‘Duplicate File Finder’, which will find duplicate images, music or documents that are eating up your disk space.

You can also use its Disk Space function to see how much disk space you have available and what is taking up your disk space.

8. Stop programs from starting up automatically:

Sometimes when you install programs, you may or may not have seen the option to have these programs start up automatically when you turn on your computer. When it is a program you use frequently, it can be very helpful. But when your computer loads a bunch of programs you don’t need at startup, it can really slow down your computer.

To Control Programs that Open on Startup (On a Windows 10):

    • Select ‘Start’
    • Click ‘Settings’
    • Click ‘Apps’
    • Click ‘Startup’
    • In the Startup Apps section, select the programs you want to stop from starting automatically then set it to ‘Off’

Use a program:

If you prefer to skip all the manual steps, you can use a program like our #1 pick for antivirus TotalAV, which comes with an option called ‘Startup Programs’, which will scan for autorun programs, which may increase your load time.

TotalAV dashboard featuring Startup Programs

TotalAV dashboard featuring Startup Programs

 

9. Back up your files and restore/reset computer:

If none of the steps listed above seem to work, you can back up your computer as explained in How to back up your Windows or Mac computer. Once you’ve backed up your computer, you can restore or reset to default settings using the steps in this article: How to securely get rid of your old PC or Mac.

 

how to speed up a mac computer

How to Speed Up a Mac

Each operating system has its own dynamic that can lead to sluggishness. Below is a list of actions you can take to speed up computers running Mac:

1. Keep your OS updated:

Make sure your operating system is up to date. Sometimes there are updates that your computer needs to run optimally.

In order to do this:

  • Select the Apple icon on the top menu bar
  • Click ‘About This Mac’
  • Under the information about your system, click ‘Software Update’
  • If you’re connected to the internet, you’ll get a scan of the latest OS you need to update
  • Click ‘Upgrade Now’

2. Close unnecessary programs from running in the background:

Sometimes programs continue to run in the background long after you stopped using them. These programs can slow down your computer.

In order to close programs:

  • Go to ‘Force Quit’ under the Apple icon
  • Select the program you want to close
  • Click ‘Force Quit’

3. Run your Antivirus program:

A slow computer could be a sign that your system has been compromised or laden with malware. You can use an award-winning program like TotalAV to scan and get rid of viruses and malware. For more details on TotalAV and other top antivirus options, check out Best Antivirus Protection.

4. Delete Duplicate Files:

Duplicated files can take up disk space and slow down your Mac

To manually delete duplicate files:

  • Select ‘File’ on the main menu bar on the top left corner of your Mac
  • Select ‘New Smart Folder’
  • Search for files
  • Sort them by name so you can readily see duplicates
  • Right-click on the file you want to delete & ‘Move to Trash’ (make sure you empty your ‘Trash’ folder (usually the trash can icon on your desktop)

Use a program like our #1 pick for best antivirus, TotalAV, to delete duplicates by using an option called ‘Duplicate File Finder’, which will find duplicate images, music or documents that are eating up your disk space.

5. Back up your files and restore/reset computer:

If none of the steps listed above seem to work, you can back up your computer as explained in How to back up your Windows or Mac computer. Once you’ve backed up your computer, you can restore or reset to default settings using the steps in this article: How to securely get rid of your old PC or Mac.

6. Stop programs from starting up automatically:

Use a program like our #1 pick for best antivirus, TotalAV, which comes with an option called ‘Startup Programs’, which will scan for autorun programs, which may increase your load time.

TotalAV dashboard featuring Startup Programs

TotalAV dashboard featuring Startup Programs

There’s a point in every user’s experience when your computer starts to slow down in performance. It’s nice to know there are a variety of ways to troubleshoot the issue. Have you given any of these techniques a try? Has it helped performance?

If none of the techniques have worked and you are ready to get rid of your device, do make sure to check out How to securely get rid of your old PC or Mac to do so safely.

 

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