3 Ways to Speed Up a Slow Computer
Updated: Jun 24
There's no doubt that we're living in a challenging time. Prices are on the rise and stock markets are falling. Many of us are tightening our belts and not wanting to spend as much money on non-essentials.
Rather than looking for a new computer, perhaps it's a time to consider how you can improve the performance of the one you already own. This is a much less expensive solution than the purchase of a new machine and, in many cases, just as effective.
One of the most frustrating computer issues I come across, particularly with slightly older computers, is when they're running too slowly. I frequently hear from clients in Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan and the Redlands, that their computer is too slow. Perhaps you'd have been of the opinion that, once your computer starts to slow down, it's approaching the end of its life and the only solution is to purchase a new machine. In fact, this isn't necessarily the case at all. I take great pleasure in breathing new life into older computers. In many cases, the computer will actually end up running even faster than it did when you first bought it.
In this post, I'd like to look at three ways in which you can speed up your computer. Depending on your level of confidence and expertise, you may even be able to implement one or more of these solutions yourself. If not, I'm available to assist you and I'd be delighted to transform your old slow computer into a lean, mean fast machine.
Many people assume that the most obvious way to speed up their computer is to add extra memory (RAM). However, in many cases adding extra RAM will have little to no effect on the speed of your computer. A memory upgrade will only benefit you if your computer is already maximising use of the existing RAM. For example, you could be running applications which require a certain amount of RAM, or you could be running multiple applications together which would then be consuming more RAM. Having said that, I would certainly recommend that you have at least 8 GB of RAM in your computer.
So let's look at three effective methods which can be used to speed up your computer.
1. Carry out a clean-up of the computer
I should say at the outset that merely cleaning up your computer is the option which will give you the least improvement. A clean-up is likely to give you more of an incremental improvement than a radical transformation. The other methods I'll describe here would prove much more effective. However, cleaning up your computer is almost certainly something you would be able to carry out yourself, whereas the other methods are likely to prove more technically challenging.
When I refer to a clean-up of your computer, I'm considering activities like deleting unnecessary files and folders, uninstalling unnecessary applications, and disabling unnecessary startup items. When your hard drive becomes beyond about 75% full, it may begin to slow down the computer, so cleaning up the hard drive and removing unnecessary files is certainly a worthwhile activity.
You should also carry out a scan for malware and viruses. You may find that, if your computer is performing very poorly, this behaviour is being caused by the presence of malware or a virus running in the background. Whether or not you have an antivirus application on your computer, it's always a good idea to run a scan using a malware scanner other than the one you may have currently installed. I've described how to remove malware and viruses in a previous post, so please check out the article if you'd like to understand how to fully clean up your computer.
If you'd like more detail about how to carry out a comprehensive health check and clean-up of a Windows computer, please take a look at my post on Windows PC Health Checks, written late last year.
2. Reinstall your operating system
Reinstallation of the operating system is the cleanest way to optimise your computer without having to replace any hardware.
There are two ways in which you can reinstall your operating system. The first approach is to reinstall the operating system in place so that you won't lose the files that were on the hard drive. You would however still need to reinstall any applications you were using afterwards. The second approach is to completely erase your hard drive, then reinstall the operating system from scratch, followed by reinstallation of your applications.
I'll assume we're talking here about reinstalling Windows 10. If you have a Windows 11 computer, I'd imagine it's not yet running too slowly. For a computer running Windows 10, you can download the required Windows 10 ISO installation file from Microsoft, then use this to create a bootable flash drive which you can use for the reinstallation.
This approach can also be used for an Apple Mac computer and you can download various versions of the macOS from Apple.
By reinstalling the operating system you will accomplish the clean-up described above, but you'll actually be starting again from a clean slate. You can be sure that no malware will be present following this operation.
3. Replace your hard drive with a Solid State Drive (SSD)
Replacement of hard drives with SSD's is something I carry out for clients on a regular basis and is a fantastic means of speeding up a computer, particularly an older computer. Using this approach
I've had great success even with computers which are 10 years old or more.
The traditional SATA hard drives are a mechanical moving part and they become slower with sustained use over a period of time. On the other hand, the newer types of drives (SSD's) have no moving parts and offer instant access to the data on the drive. Typically a solid state drive will be 10 times faster than a traditional SATA hard drive.
I've described in much more detail in a previous post how to actually go about upgrading a hard drive to an SSD. This is by far the most effective way to speed up your computer.
You could clone your existing system to the SSD so that when you reboot your computer everything will appear exactly as it did before, with all the applications and files intact. Alternatively, you can remove your old hard drive and replace it with the solid state drive, then reinstall the operating system from scratch. Following this activity, you would reinstall the applications you need and then potentially use a USB enclosure to copy back any required files and folders from the old hard drive into your new system. This approach is the one I would normally recommend, as it's a much cleaner install and you will maximise the performance of your computer by approaching it in this way.
So there you have three methods you can use to speed up a slow computer. These methods apply to both Windows computers and Apple Mac computers. As mentioned previously, each method is something you may be able to implement yourself, or you may require assistance. If you do require assistance, I'm available in a wide range of suburbs in Brisbane and throughout Ipswich, Logan and the Redlands.
In most cases, I would recommend the third approach which is to upgrade your hard disk to a solid state drive. Of course this is the only option which requires an outlay on new hardware. However, solid state drives are nowhere near as expensive as they were just a few years ago. Many new computers now come with a 256 GB SSD as standard, whereas in the past many computers would have had 1 TB of storage. Most people don't need anywhere close to 1 TB and the low cost of installing a 256 GB drive in your computer might surprise you.
Norm's Computer Services is here to help you out with speeding up your slow computer, and with a wide range of other computer repair issues throughout greater Brisbane. Please don't hesitate to get in touch.