There are many guides out there that will explain different ways of speeding up your PC or Mac. But be careful as some websites are simply repeating the same old solutions that don’t work or perhaps they have some hidden motives to get you to download malware which will possible slow your computer down even more. I have compiled the following list from my personal experience of working with computers as a computer science major and helping family and friends with their own slow computers. The list will contain fixes that can be performed for free with software and also hardware upgrades which won’t set you back too much but definitely increase performance. I will also add my own comments and feedback in regards to if an upgrade will actually be worth it so that you don’t waste any money or time.
The first and cheapest step is to keep your computer clean. Get rid of anything that you don’t need which slows everything down. This can be anything from lots of temporary internet files to annoying malware. Below I will list some ways in which you can solve these issues.
The following are ways to clean up and speed up your computer if you are running Windows, I will try to cover Windows 7 and 8.
This is a great piece of software which makes it super easy to clean up lots of unnecessary files on your computer which may slow it down.
You can download it via this link http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download
The free version has all the necessary tools and you don’t need to pay for the features included in the professional version.
Once downloaded, click on the setup file to begin the install. Choose the options that are right for you, as of right now CCleaner does not include any extra hidden programs as many other programs that claim to speed up your computer does. So there is nothing to worry about, CCleaner plays a fair game.
Once you have installed CCleaner and you get it up and running you will be prompted with this screen. Most things here that are checked can be removed without any issues, however things like History and Cookies (which keep you logged in to sites) are some things which you may consider keeping if you would like. Don’t forget to check the “Applications” tab to see what changes you are making to other applications. Hit analyze first to see how much you might gain from doing the cleanup and then run the cleaner when you would like to remove all of these extra files.
If you have never cleared any of this data before and you are sitting on an old computer you might see a huge gain from this. However if you are on a new computer which has had little use you may see very little to no gain from this. Don’t worry though, there are more ways to speed up your computer.
If you have a lot of startup programs it may cause your computer to take a long time to start when turning it on and it may also slow down your computer if you are not or can not turn these programs off after they have started. To manage which programs start when your computer start you can use a simple program that comes with Windows which is called msconfig.
To access this on Windows 7 you would simply click on the start menu and then type “msconfig” in the search bar. Select msconfig.exe to run the application. On Windows 8 you will need to navigate to the desktop and then hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and then pressing R. A dialog will open where you can type in msconfig and then hit enter. You can also access this by turning on Administrative Tools in and accessing this from the apps page.
Once you have launched msconfig you should navigate to the “Startup” tab where you will see all of the programs that start when your computer starts. In the image above you can see that I have quite a few applications that launch. Feel free to disable any that you don’t need but as always, be careful when you are doing this as some applications may be needed for graphics and sound to function at its best. In my case I knew I could disable Skype and Spotify while Avast, my antivirus, might be something that I would like to launch at startup.
Viruses and malware
Keep your computer clean from viruses and malware. These can harm your computer and slow it down a lot. I would recommend the free version of Avast to keep you protected, you can download it from their website via this link http://www.avast.com/download-thank-you.php?product=FA-AVAST&locale=en-ww
Avast will ask you to register in order to use the program, but this is free and I have not had any abuse from them. They respect their free customers. This may be slightly annoying every once in a while (every few months perhaps) but it is definitely worth it and it is the best free antivirus out there.
I am running the latest version of OSX which is Mavericks. However this guide should work for earlier versions of OSX as well since I have used these methods for years.
Onyx is a great piece of software which has only gotten better over the years. I use this to repair file permissions and clean up system files. It is a bit like CCleaner for Windows. You can download the latest version of Onyx here http://www.titanium.free.fr/downloadonyx.php
Once you get Onyx installed and running you will see the following application window with many options. I usually stick to the “Verifying”, “Maintenance” and “Cleaning” tabs but you may look around to see if there is anything else that is useful. Under the “Cleaning” tab you will see something similar to CCleaner for Windows where you can pick what you want to remove. Once again, browser history may be something worth keeping so give it some thought and look through the options before hitting Execute.
Onyx is pretty good at explaining what things do as you can see with the warning in the image above. Onyx is totally free and they do not try to trick you into installing anything extra or get you to register.
Startup progrms or Login items as it is called are a just as easy to manage on the Mac as on Windows. Click the apple in the top left corner of your screen and go to system preferences and click on “Users & Groups” and then select the tab called “Login Items”.
Here is a list of all the items that start when your computer boots up. If you check the box next to an item it will hide it at start but the program will still run. To remove a program from the list you will need to click and select it and then hit the minus sign. None of these programs should affect graphics or sound and it should be pretty safe to remove anything listed here. However always be cautious and think about what you are doing.
Hardware upgrades will generally cost a bit more but can be a great way to revive a computer which is feeling a bit sluggish. Please keep in mind that sometimes it is simply better and cheaper to buy a new computer. Keep this in mind as you read this section and don’t forget to read my thoughts on when it may be a good time to get a new computer.
Many thing that their memory or RAM is the first thing that needs upgrading when their computer feels sluggish. However I disagree, most users won’t need more than 4GB of RAM to play games or work with programs like photoshop.
It may be a much better idea to get an SSD drive which will be your main drive. I did this to my macbook pro with a 1TB SSD from Crucial and the performance increase blew my mind! I also decided to get two 120GB SSD drives for my main windows computer, one of the drives is only for the operating system and the second SSD runs programs that may need a bit of a performance increase. I kept my larger hard drives for storage so that I have close to 3.3TB in total. This upgrade may be just a costly and difficult to do as a memory upgrade but the performance increase will be higher.
If you have a decent processor with for example 2GB of ram you may consider going to 4GB of ram but unless you are trying to run large 3D modeling software or the very latest games at the highest resolutions I doubt you would need more. It is most likely your processor, junk on your computer, a virus you can’t seem to get rid of, or overheating which is causing the slowdown. Some may need 8GB or 12GB of ram, but I would highly recommend looking into a new computer if your computer initially came with only 2GB of RAM unless you are doing multiple upgrades. Get a new computer with more RAM instead.
The processor will usually be the cause in older computers, especially if you have already tried the SSD and RAM options with very little to no success. Upgrading the processor is a fairly complex task for someone who is new to computers and many laptops and mac computers have processors that are soldered to the motherboard. If you have a desktop computer then upgrading the processor may be a good alternative, however if you have an older computer it may be likely that other parts such as the motherboard, RAM, hard drive and much more may also be outdated. If this is the case I would recommend that you once again buy a new computer as it will probably be cheaper and better in the long run.
I hope this guide will help a lot of you to speed up your PCs and Macs. Please do share this article if you like it! Leave a comment with any feedback or questions that you may have. I would love to hear other ideas and thoughts on how to speed up computers.