Is your PC moving at a snail’s pace? You could upgrade your machine with a solid state drive (SSD), but there are cheaper and easier methods for speeding up your Windows PC. More often than not, installing (or uninstalling) software updates and deep cleaning your hard drive is all you need to make your PC run more efficiently. When things start running slow, it normally means your computer is cluttered, and that’s a much easier fix than an internal-hardware problem (that’s another post for another day).
This handy MTE guide will help your Windows PC run as smooth and fast as the day you first set it up. Or, at least, it will get it running as close as it can get to brand new.
1. Update Your Software
Ensuring that your computer’s software is up to date is one of the easiest things you can do to increase the speed at which your PC operates. That said, a lot of your computer’s software could be at the mercy of third-party developers who don’t always bring their A game like Microsoft does when it comes to issuing updates.
You can check for software updates in Windows (I’m currently using Windows 7) by clicking on the following: “Control Panel -> System and Security -> Check for Updates.” Follow the onscreen steps to install the updates.
2. Clean Out Your Files
Whether you know it or not, computers have a bad habit of getting overrun with unnecessary files that hog valuable space and bog down your PC. Take some time to go through your files and get rid of any outdated files; you don’t need entire application suites you no longer use. Deleting software you don’t use can also free up some memory on your hard drive as can deleting temporary Internet files and trial apps.
You can delete any unwanted apps in Windows by navigating to “Control Panel -> Programs -> Uninstall Program.” To delete unwanted files, all you have to do is Right Click -> Delete or drag the document to your Recycle Bin. Backing up any documents, music, or pictures you have to the cloud storage server of your choice will help speed things up too.
3. Defragment Your Hard Drive
Saving and deleting files causes your data to be tossed across your hard drive in bits like the crumbs a toddler trails across the living room floor during an afternoon snack. So when your hard drive goes looking for something, it might have to search multiple locations, thereby slowing your PC down. Defragmenting your hard drive cleans up the mess and organizes it, making it easier for your computer to find something when it looks for it.
Defragmenting is incredibly easy to do, but you can take notes if you really want to:
If you’re running Windows Vista or later, your hard drive automatically defragments itself. On Windows, if you want to check when defragmenting is happening and change up when it’s scheduled to happen, just click “Control Panel -> System and Security -> Administrative Tools.” This is where you’ll find the option manually defragment your hard drive. The process will take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours when you defragement manually. It just depends on how bogged down your PC is.
If you’re running Windows XP, your hard drive is not automatically defragmenting itself. In this case, I hope you have something else to do while your PC is defragmenting because it’s an unbelievably long process. If I may, I’d recommend Auslogics Disk Defrag (free) to streamline your defragmenting, save yourself a few hours, and speed up your PC.
If you don’t know if you’re running Windows Vista or Windows XP, just click “Start -> right click My Computer -> Properties.” If you see “x64 edition” under System, you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows XP; if you don’t see it, you’re running a 32-bit version of XP.
If you see “64-bit operating system” next to System Type, you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows Vista. If you don’t see it, you’re running a 32-bit version of Vista.
Note: If you have a solid-state drive (SSD), you should consider defragmenting everything except this drive. Defragmentation of SSDs are usually destructive and we don’t want that.
4. Optimize Your PC with Native and Third-Party Software
Third-party software can do wonders for your PC’s speed. The two programs listed below come highly recommended for cleaning up browser histories, deleting unnecessary files, unburdening your system, and improving overall speed.
- Antivirus Software – BitDefender and AVG Antivirus FREE 2015 are two great antivirus software options. Viruses can take a toll on your system, so it’s best to just avoid them all together with some good protection.
- Registry Cleaner – Registry cleaners are excellent for cleaning out junk and fixing errors on your PC. Installing a registry cleaner like Auslogics Registry Cleaner will quickly repair issues and clean up your PC, improving the speed of your system.
5. Clean Up Your Vents
The vents on your PC are there to prevent overheating and promote ventilation. However, computers are a little bit like the lint trap in your dryer, meaning that over time their vents can fill up with unwanted dirt and dust. Dirty vents can lead to overheating, and overheating can lead to slow performance, crashes, and random reboots.
You can use a can of compressed air to clean out your vents. Just hold the can upright and a few inches from your vent and press to release a short burst of air. Repeat until your vents are clean. If you’re not comfortable performing this task, you can always pay a visit to your local PC repair shop.
Trying the tips in the list will give you one of two results: Your computer runs much faster than it did before or you make zero progress. If your PC is still acting like it believes slow and steady wins the race, it may be time to consider upgrading. Every system has its limits, and once those are reached, it’s normally time to retire. Hopefully you performed the tasks on the list and prolonged the life of your computer. If not, it may be time to crack open the piggy bank.