Having to wait five minutes for the computer to boot and then additional time to start programs can put you in a really bad mood.
Who hasn’t had many slow computers and has sat and fantasized about how you want to throw the computer out the window?
But before you do that, there are many different steps you can take to make your computer faster! In addition to the fact that you will have a nicer and more pleasant digital everyday life, you can also make your computer last longer, which saves both money and the environment.
1. Clean up files
A big problem that often slows down the computer is that the hard drive is almost full, which gives the computer very little memory to work with. Therefore, it’s time for a major cleanup of your files! Set aside a weekend afternoon and get started.
Start by going through your files, especially pictures that take up a lot of space on your hard drive. Remove everything unnecessary, out of date. Folder after folder. Also, do not forget to empty the trash! Otherwise, you risk saving a lot of files that you think you have deleted.
A good idea is to buy an external hard drive (there are many affordable options these days with plenty of space!). There you can upload bulky files such as pictures, movies, and other things that you do not use daily but want to save.
2. Clean up amongst your programs
Having a lot of programs that you do not use that take up space on your hard drive is stupid and unnecessary. Time to clean up!
- Go to Control Panel> Programs> Uninstall any programs you are not using!
- On Windows 10: Settings> System> Apps & Features> Uninstall What You Are Not Using!
- PCs tend to come with lots of add-ons installed from the manufacturer that you may neither use nor need. If you are unsure of what certain programs are or do, you can google e.g. “Safe to uninstall name-on-program” or “what does name-on-program do” etc.
- Go to Launchpad (rocket icon)> hold down the pointer on an application icon until it starts shaking> Press the small cross to uninstall.
- If the program you want to uninstall does not have a small cross, you can go to:
- Finder> Programs> Check if the program has a folder> Open the folder and click on “uninstall”.
- If the program does not have an “uninstaller”, you can completely sonic click and drag the program icon from the Program folder to the Trash.
3. Free up space on the hard drive
There is space on the hard drive that is taken up by temporary files that are stored and other things that you may need a little help cleaning. However, it’s pretty simple so no worries!
- Windows XP: Right-click on the hard disk you want to clean> Properties> General> Disk Cleanup
- Windows 8: Go to Control Panel> Administrative Tools> Disk Recovery
- Windows 10: in your task bar in the search field type “disk cleaning”> select the tool that appears
- Then click in which files you want to clean and run the disk cleaner!
- To do a disk cleanup on a Mac, you need to download a program that can do that because there is no pre-installed software that it does on Windows.
- A popular free program is CCleaner which you can download (at your own risk, of course!) Download and run the program, check what you want to clean and run the cleanup.
- I myself have used the program Disk Care which you can buy and download from the App Store – it is not free but it is a good program with a good rating so it may be worth a small investment.
- There you follow the instructions, press “START” to analyze, and then select the pieces of cake you want to clear and click on the large “Click to free” button in the middle.
4. Stop programs from starting automatically
One thing that can make your computer faster at startup is to prevent lots of programs from starting up automatically. Even if they are programs you usually use, it is better that you open them yourself when you are going to use them than that they lie and take up processing power and memory all the time. The fact that the computer starts faster also means that the computer is experienced much faster in general.
Windows 8 and 10: Right-click on the taskbar and select “Task Manager”> Select the “Autostart” tab> Right-click on the programs you do not want to start automatically and select “Disable”.
Go to System Preferences> Users and Groups> Select Your User> Startup Object
Click on the programs you do not want to start at startup. Some programs may require you to set this in the settings for the program itself.
5. Shut down programs while using the computer
One thing that makes the computer very tough is also programs that lie and take up processing power while you are not using them. Browsers are real processor thieves, but other programs on your computer can also run in the background without you even noticing it.
To find out which programs take up the most memory and shut them down, follow these steps:
Right-click on the Taskbar> Select Task Manager> On the “Processes” tab, you will see which programs take up a lot of processing power and memory. The programs that are high on the list and that you do not use, you can right-click and select Exit.
- Go to Applications> Utilities> Activity Monitor
- Check either the Processes tab or Memory. Either you can shut down the programs that take up a lot of memory as usual from the Dock (secondary click on the program icon and select Exit).
- If it is a process that takes up a lot of space, you can try to mark in the list in the Activity Control and select the button with a cross on it that forces the process to end. (At your own risk – of course!). If you are unsure of what a process does, you can always google!
6. Remove virus (Windows mainly)
If your computer has adware or malware (ie spam/viruses) that has crept in, this can slow down the computer considerably. Sometimes you can find these in the program menu and uninstall them from there. Sometimes a simple scan and analysis with your virus program (if you have a good one) can get rid of the worst.
My experience with PCs, however, is that it is often difficult and time-consuming to get rid of such viruses. In some cases, if you know what the virus is called, you can usually google a solution – hopefully at least. Sometimes the next step in this guide may be your best and easiest solution: reinstall your computer!
7. A little advanced: Reinstall/reset the computer
This option is not for everyone, but if you feel you have good enough control, it may be a good idea to transfer files you want to keep to an external hard drive and then reinstall/reset the computer! I’ve done it lots of times with old PCs I’ve had and sure – it can be a little over the top but it’s usually extremely worth it. You need a boot disk (on CD-ROM or USB memory).
If you feel this is too difficult for you, it may be a good idea to take your computer to a computer service company and pay to get it done. Maybe it feels expensive – but if your computer lasts a few more years and you also avoid the frustration over a slow computer, it can be worth it!
Advanced: Install an SSD hard drive
An SSD hard drive or flash drive as they are also called is significantly faster than a mechanical hard drive. It can be worth the investment and give your computer a whole new life!
Of course, this is something that most people prefer not to do themselves. But if you know someone who can do that or give it to a computer company, you can freshen up your computer for a few hundred bucks so that it potentially lasts for several more years. Then you save both money and the environment!