Speed is the key to making sure you can be as efficient and productive as possible. It’s also important if you need to run the newest software and applications. But sometimes a variety of factors can affect your computer’s performance and make it harder and more time-consuming to complete even the simplest tasks. Luckily, there are many ways to either increase your computer’s speed or remove the barriers that are preventing it from performing up to its potential. Here are a few tips and tricks that may help you get back up to speed.
CLEAN UP YOUR HARD DRIVES
In some cases, a slow computer could be the result of a full hard drive. Computers not only use onboard memory (RAM) to run software and applications, they can also use portions of the hard drive. If you’re running out of storage space, then your computer won’t have access to these additional resources and you might notice a decrease in speed as a result. It’s easy to find some unneeded documents and files to delete, but you may also be able to delete entire programs if your company doesn’t use them anymore. Windows has a built-in tool called Disk Cleanup that will help you find non-essential files to delete. On Windows 7, go to the Start menu and click All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Disk Cleanup. It will let you know how much space you can free up. You also have the option to see what it wants to delete, so it won’t automatically remove important files. When an otherwise decent computer starts running slowly, you should also check to see if there are any programs running in the background. Some applications start running in the back ground as soon as you turn on your computer, preventing unnecessary programs from doing this will also help your PC’s speed.
SCAN COMPUTERS FOR VIRUSES
Some of those programs running in the background could actually be viruses. Many malicious applications appear to be legitimate programs and so you may not recognize them at first. Malware, spyware, and other viruses can slow down your computer in addition to posing a security threat, so it’s a good idea to run an anti-virus scan if your computer isn’t as efficient as it could be. There are many anti-virus programs available and some of them are free. We suggest searching online to find the latest versions from their original sources or from reputable vendors; don’t click to download what looks good without checking it out first. Also, investigate user reviews wherever possible to make sure that (1) the software works well and (2) the latest version is at least as good as what came before it, because sometimes a great software title can take a sudden turn for the worst. When there are free and paid versions of an antimalware solution available, try the free version first to make sure it will operate the way you expect.
EXTRA TOOLS TO HELP INCREASE SPEED
If you’ve already tried cleaning your hard drive and scanning for viruses but your computer still isn’t as fast as you’d like, there are a few free tools you can try that may help. One of these tools is called Windows Ready-Boost, which uses additional memory from flash drives or memory cards to increase the speed of your Windows Vista/7 computer.
All you need is a flash drive or memory card with at least 1GB of free space (recommended) that can be dedicated to Ready-Boost. After you connect it to your computer and set it up, Ready-Boost will use that extra memory to run software and applications. Some memory devices indicate on the packaging that they will work with Ready-Boost.
UPDATE OR UPGRADE YOUR OPERATING SYSTEMS
Something you may not initially think of when you first notice your computer is slowing down is whether or not the operating system and all of the software is up-to-date. Software companies release regular updates for their products, and many operating systems have downloadable service packs that can improve performance and may even help your computer use resources more efficiently. There may be some situations where an update won’t help because your operating system is simply outdated. If your company uses the latest and greatest software or you have been using the same OS for more than four or five years, it may be time for an upgrade. This is a good alternative to replacing entire computer systems if you know your hardware is capable of running the software and applications your company needs.
EVALUATE YOUR HARDWARE
If you’ve exhausted all other options, then the reason for your computer’s slow-down may be hardware-related. All software titles show the minimum and recommended system requirements in order for them to run on your computer. If desktop’s specs don’t match up, then it may be possible to upgrade components. Systems personnel may be able to install extra RAM, graphics cards, or other components in aging systems. However, if your computer is five or more years old, it may not be compatible with certain components and new parts may not do enough to increase performance. And it isn’t always easy or possible to upgrade laptops. In that case, it may be time to invest in new systems that have the latest hardware, software, and OS.