By George Otte
Your PC takes ages to start up in the morning. Seemingly simple processes stretch for what feels like hours. Browsing media-rich websites feels like running a marathon.
You can no longer deny it: your computer is getting older. Is it time to accept the inevitable and invest in a new device?
Perhaps not. Many people do not realize just how much they can do to prolong the useful life of an older laptop or desktop computer and improve its performance while it remains functional.
If you would prefer not to buy a brand-new PC just yet, why not try these eight proven tips to improve computer performance? Most cost little or nothing and require only minor changes to your routine, if any.
1. Power Down Your Computer When Not in Use
This might be the easiest tip of all. Rather than let your computer run all night, even in sleep mode, power the device down completely whenever it’s not in use. This is especially important for work devices, which we ask to perform for hours on end almost every day.
2. Set Fewer Programs to Run at Startup
Your computer might take so long to power up every morning because of how many programs it’s starting up in the process. To find out if this is the case for your PC, open the Task Manager (from the Start menu or using the Ctrl + Shift + Esc shortcut) and count how many programs are set to run from startup. For each program that runs from startup, you’ll see how much computing power it’s using too. Right-click to change each program’s settings.
3. Uninstall Unnecessary Programs (Including Preinstalled Software That Came With the Device)
Every PC has its fair share of “bloatware,” the unnecessary programs that users rarely open and that don’t improve system performance in any real way.
On the contrary. Bloatware can adversely affect your device’s speed and cause run errors.
“Get rid of software you don’t currently use and don’t ever plan to by uninstalling it from the device and making sure no copies remain on the hard drive.” — George Otte
Don’t spare preinstalled software either. Despite what you may have heard, uninstalling “default” programs won’t damage your operating system.
4. Run the Disk Cleanup Process
Manually uninstalling unnecessary programs is a good start, but it won’t remove every file that’s slowing down your device. For that, you need to run the Disk Cleanup process. Simply type “Disk Cleanup” into the Start menu bar to get started. Do this at least three times per year, and more frequently if you download lots of files to your hard drive.
5. Offload Extra Files to an External Hard Drive and Delete Them From Your Device
Another way to improve system performance is to “outsource” files and programs that don’t absolutely need to live on your hard drive. Use a high-capacity external hard drive to store these files, keeping the physical drive in a safe place (ideally, a locked file cabinet), and delete the originals from your hard drive.
6. Routinely Scan Your Device for Malware
Install a trusted anti-malware program on your computer and run a full malware scan every month. Do this overnight so that it doesn’t impact system performance while it’s running; a full scan can take several hours. Note any performance-diminishing spyware or viruses that the scan identifies and removes.
7. Try a Different Web Browser
If your device’s Web browsing performance is of particular concern, try switching to a different browser. Sometimes, this is all that’s needed to improve load speed and enable faster, richer surfing.
8. Upgrade to a Solid State Drive (But Consider the Cost First)
Short of purchasing a brand-new device, this is the most drastic step you can take to improve your computing experience. It’s also the most expensive. However, the difference will be crystal clear. If nothing else works to your satisfaction, this is your best option.
Do you have an older laptop or desktop computer that is showing its age? Have any of these tips helped improve its performance?
George Otte is a Miami-based entrepreneur and executive with more than 15 years of multifaceted business operations experience.