How to speed up your laptop: 9 ways to boost your PC

Slow laptop or computer? Before you go out and get a shiny new one, there are lots of things you can do to give your current machine a speed boost.

You can get a nice performance boost from tinkering with start-up programs or defragmenting the hard disk, but there are even more gains to be had if you’re willing to get your hands dirty. Here are nine affordable and relatively easy ways to squeeze every ounce of performance from your old PC or laptop. We’ve listed them as bullet points below and you can scroll down for more information.

  • Upgrade your RAM
  • Switch to SSD
  • Install CCleaner
  • Run Windows ReadyBoost
  • Defrag your hard disk
  • Disable start-up programs
  • Use alternative programs
  • Disable animations
  • Switch to Linux

1. How to speed up a laptop or PC: Upgrade your RAM

How to speed up a laptop or PC

If you want a little more performance for multi-tasking, but don’t want to shell out on an SSD then a cheaper option is to start looking at some RAM upgrades.

If you’re running on a system with under 2GB of RAM, sticking an extra few gigabytes in won’t cost you too much and can make all the difference. Combine a RAM upgrade with an SSD, and it’s safe to say that your old PC or laptop won’t feel quite so old anymore.

2. How to speed up a laptop or PC: Switch to SSD

One of the best ways to rejuvenate a laptop or PC is to install an SSD. We’ve installed modern SSDs on everything from old Lenovo ThinkPad laptops to dusty old AMD desktop PCs, and the results are always worthwhile – boot times are a fraction of previously, and even the most frugal of processors feels more sprightly with an SSD working alongside.

How to speed up a laptop or PC

Because there are no moving parts in SSDs, the read/write speeds are far superior to older optical (spinning disk) hard drives. Buying one won’t break the bank, but you might have to compromise a little on storage space, as SSDs still cost more per GB than mechanical hard disks.

Before you worry about finding your old Windows disks – don’t. It’s easy enough to clone your old disk and existing Windows installation onto your new SSD. Download a free program and clone your old HDD onto a speedy new SSD is a fairly simple affair.

And even if you can’t replace your HDD easily, don’t abandon hope – it’s often possible to clone your operating system to an SSD connected via a USB 3 (or Thunderbolt) adapter. We’ve had great results moving an iMac’s OS from the difficult-to-replace internal HDD and onto an SSD with a USB 3 adapter.

3. How to speed up a laptop or PC: Install CCleaner

Sometimes, though, even the fastest hardware can get bogged down – there’s no point shelling out for pricey SSD or RAM upgrades if your Windows installation is cluttered with tens or hundreds of programs and apps which you never use.

So, before you reach for the credit card, the first thing anyone with an ailing computer should do is to make sure it’s not clogged up with unnecessary data. Over time, various scraps of code build up like digital cobwebs, slowing your machine down.

Fortunately, there are many utilities designed to hunt down and remove unwanted files and extensions. One program we particularly like is CCleaner. This free piece of software scours your hard drive for all the pesky files hogging your disk space, including temporary files, internet cookies, and unused registry files.

How to speed up a laptop or PC

An added benefit is the ‘Registry’ tab, allowing you to scan and fix redundancies or other problems in your PC’s registry archive, helping improve speed. In the ‘Tools’ tab, you can also uninstall programs, disable startup programs, find out what kind of file takes up the most space on your drive, and even locate duplicate files.

Step 1

Once CCleaner has downloaded and installed, start the program. By default, CCleaner opens to the ‘Cleaner’ tab.

How to speed up a laptop or PC

Step 2

From here, you can fine-tune the elements you want to clean up. You can choose specific programs or OS components to scan, and even which files you’d like to remove within.

Step 3

If you’re happy with the scan, hit the “Analyse” button to see how much space you could free up. After the scan is complete, make any further adjustments, and then click ‘Run Cleaner’ to remove the files.

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