Ten ways to speed up a slow PC

Ten ways to speed up a slow PC

Summary: If your PC or laptop is running slow, it may be time to try one of these 10 tips: from clearing out the dust to upgrading your memory or even reinstalling Windows

TOPICS: Hardware

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  • Check hard drives

    3. Check your RAM and hard drive
    There's every chance that your hardware may not be performing to spec, whether through some kind of fault or mere age.

    To make sure everything's running as it should, there are quite a few software tools you can use first before you go on an upgrading rampage, or file a warranty claim. Primarily, though, you'll want to check your memory and your hard drive.

    MemTest86+ will cover the memory side, ultimately giving you a bootable DVD or USB key to work with to make sure your RAM has no errors.

    You might also want to check the SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) details of your hard drive. DiskCheckup will do the job for you — head to the SMART Info tab and make sure all the entries in the Status column read OK. You may also want to perform a Disk Self Test. If either of these reveal problems, it's time to back up your hard drive and get a new one.

    Solid-state drives
    If you have an older SSD (say, from 2009 or older) that doesn't support TRIM (a command that ensures write amplification is minimised), it may very well have degraded in performance due to extended use. The quickest way to return performance is to secure erase it — but, of course, this requires backing things up, and if your SSD is your system drive it's not for the faint of heart. If you're sure that you're not getting the speeds you should out of your SSD, most SSD vendors provide their own refresh tools, or if you want to do it manually there's a guide here to help you on your way.

    Image credit: Craig Simms/CBSi

  • Uninstall programs

    4. Uninstall everything you don't use
    No, really, everything; browser toolbars, programs you forgot about, games you didn't finish. See that system tray in the bottom right stuffed to the gills? Thin it down.

    Be sensible — leave things like Windows updates and hardware drivers. If you're not sure what something is, grab a friendly geek or leave it alone.

    While you could use Windows's in-built uninstaller, something like IObit Installer will allow you to automate the process somewhat by queuing a whole lot of uninstalls at once.

    For most Mac apps (Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite are notable exceptions), you can uninstall apps purely by dragging them from the Applications folder into the trash, and emptying it.

    Image credit: Craig Simms/CBSi

  • Make more space

    5. Make more space
    Hard drives cope better with a bit of free space (as a general rule, 10-percent free should keep things happy). There are two easy ways you can help get rid of things if you've been a bit of a digital hoarder.

    CCleaner will help clear away temporary files created by web browsers, install programs and more — and if you haven't done this for a long time (or ever), it can actually make a huge difference. If you're on a Mac, try OnyX.

    Space Sniffer, meanwhile, will help you to weed out downloads and files you forgot existed, by showing you a spatial view of what's taking up the most room on your hard drive, allowing you to drill down to the file level, and still access Explorer's right-click menu to delete files. Don't forget you can double click on a folder to zoom in on its contents.

    If you're a Mac user, check out Disk Inventory X or GrandPerspective.

    Image credit: Craig Simms/CBSi

Topic: Hardware

Craig Simms

About Craig Simms

Focusing on PC hardware, accessories and business products, Craig Simms is responsible for identifying new opportunities for the reviews channels on CNET Australia and ZDNet Australia, to better serve the readers. He has written about a vast range of technology since 2001, covering the gamut from print to online, hardware to software, consumer to enthusiast, the gaming world to workstations.

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