How to Speed Up a Slow Computer

If you come up to a "computer expert" at a commercial store and complain that your computer is slow, the typically response is, "Your computer is probably too old. Perhaps, it is time to upgrade to a newer model." This, however, couldn't be further from the truth. Even with normal usage, many computers become slower over time, but here is the good news: you can follow a few simple tips below to bring your computer back to its former glory without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a new one only to be faced with similar problems later.

Remove unnecessary software

As you install new software on your computer, some of that software creates "tasks" on your computer which allows it to run when it is not needed (typically this idle time is used to perform updates and upgrades or spy on your computer activities, or simply do nothing). While one such piece of software won't make much of a difference, imagine having 20 such programs running in the background and stealing your resources. If you haven't used a particular program for a long time and don't plan to use it, delete it from your computer.

Disable startup applications

Does your computer take so long to start that you can make heat up some dinner, make coffee, read a newspaper, and your computer is still doing something? Do you have too many application icons in the task bar, and you don't know what half of them are? You probably have too many applications configured to start automatically as the computer restarts, and they overwhelm the computer causing to boot and run very slowly. If you don't your applications to start automatically, disable the automatic start and watch your computer finally take a breath of air instead of panting like an overworked mule.

Remove viruses and malware (adware, spyware, etc)

Viruses and malware take a huge toll on your computer. Not only can they "reproduce" (produce copies of themselves) and consume more and more memory, they can virtually bring your computer to its knees by eating up all your available computer resources. If your search engine has changed, you start seeing strange ads that you haven't seen before, and your computer produces pop-ups even when you are not doing anything, you are probably infected. Unfortunately, removing viruses and malware can be a very difficult and time-consuming task.

Defragment your hard drive

Although computer files appear to be stored in one location as a single piece, this isn't the case internally. In computer memory pieces of a single file may be stored in many different locations. When you give your computer the command to open the file, it has to locate all the pieces of a file, put them back together and then load the file. Over time, more and more files become fragmented from normal use, and the computer slows down. We recommend performing a regular disk defragmentation in order to keep your files together.

Buy extra random access memory (RAM)

If you have a desktop computer (not a laptop), and depending on your circuit board availability and specifications, you may be able to install more memory to speed your computer. RAM sticks can be purchased in most computer hardware stores, but you need to do the research and determine how much RAM your computer is able to handle and what type of RAM would be compatible with your computer. Installing more RAM usually drastically speeds up a slow computer.

Downgrade to an older, or switch to a faster operating system

Computer stores always advertise the latest and greatest for their software, but is hardware able to keep up? In 2005, Microsoft came out with their most unsuccessful operating system ever: Windows Vista. While much more aesthetically pleasing than its predecessor (Windows XP), Windows Vista sucked the memory out of your computer into a black hole. If your computer's specifications aren't able to handle its operating system, you can consider downgrading to an earlier version or a completely different operating system.