Thursday, September 13, 2018

5 Ways to Speed up Your Computer

Slower response times on computers are typically inevitable. There are many reasons devices slow down over time. For example, when was the last time you removed software you no longer use? The answer is likely NEVER! Much like a home that gathers mementos from trips or special family events, kids toys and sentimental items that we struggle to let go of, computers can also get bogged down. 

There is of course a reason for this phenomenon. When an application or plugin is needed, we are motivated to get it so we can accomplish whatever it is we set out to do. Whether the application did not meet our expectations, we decided not to use it, or multiple types were installed to find the best fit, we often forget about the application once it is installed.

Luckily, this post covers 5 easy ways to speed up most devices before considering purchasing a replacement device.

5 Ways to Speed up Your Computer

Run an anti-malware scan

One of the most impactful things on a system's response times is a malware infection. There are many types of malware, all of which behave differently and these details fall outside the scope of this post, but malware hijacks a system's resources for their own gain. This means you are left with very few resources to operate on. If you have anti-malware installed, try running a deep, manual scan. If you do not have anti-malware installed, try downloading something reliable and trustworthy like Malwarebytes.

Typical effects of a malware infection are exaggerated response times, trouble switching between programs, and applications or services crashing, and is usually a dramatic occurrence.

Remove unused software applications

As mentioned above, unused applications and software are rarely ever removed from a device. Even with the best of intentions, software accumulates over time. It may not seem like it matters, but not only does software take up storage space, it often has active services running even when the software is not in use. 

To remove applications, open the Control Panel and open "Program & Features". Scroll through the list and uninstall any software that is no longer being used. NOTE: Be careful when removing software. If you are unsure if the software is being used, consider leaving it unless you have access to an installer and any applicable software keys. If you mistakenly remove something you need, you might be stuck if you do not have those two items.

Typical effects include slowness when programs are loading and saving files because too many services are running and storage can get low.

Move files to external storage

Low available storage will cause slowness issues. When programs and applications are opened they are stored in memory. As more and more programs are opened and memory is oversubscribed, items are swapped to disk. Swapping to disk is much slower than having everything run in memory. Freeing up storage space provides more room for memory to swap to disk and also makes it easier for data to be written to disk. The best way to quickly free up large amounts of storage is to move files, music, videos, or pictures to an external device.

Typical effects include slowness between swapping applications, saving files, and in extreme cases, services being forcefully stopped.

Reduce the number of programs

If the above options are not the cause of slowness, or do not increase the speed of the device to a workable level, try having less open programs at a time. A big part of slowness is lack of available resources. Larger applications like database programs, email applications and even web browsers with 10+ tabs open can have a huge impact on resources and usage. Try closing one application at a time to see how this impacts response times.

Typical effects include slowness after using the device for a while because we often begin with fewer open programs.

Check the task manager

If all else fails, open the task manager and monitor the system resources. To open the task manager right-click on any blank spot on the task bar and select "Task Manager" and select the "Performance" tab. On the performance tab you can click on any resource to see a real-time graph of its usage.

This tool provides great insight into what is going on with device resources and can help uncover which ones are under high demand. With this information, you can choose to replace or increase resources, like adding RAM which is quite easy. This information can also show that the work you are doing simply needs a newer device with greater resources.

Typical effects include overall slowness not specific to any one task or program, and usually occurrs slowly over time.

Ultimately, devices will get slower over time for many reasons. Some are caused by users, like adding software and running lots of programs at once. Others are external, like newer software that requires faster processors or additional memory to run correctly. While replacing a device with a newer version is an easy fix, it is also the most costly. Try the five options above to speed up your device until you are ready to replace it.

As always, knowing how to work around existing issues saves time, money, and frustration!

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