Is your desktop starting to run a little slow? Do you find yourself waiting and waiting and waiting for things to come up on your desktop computer? It’s a common problem. Over time, our computers slow down. It is usually a combination of heavy use and advancing software that does it, or simply running a budget desktop with extremely limited hardware.
After a time your desktop loses that lightning fast speed but you don’t often realize it until it’s too late. So what do you do? Luckily, we are here to help. While we can’t work on your computer for you, we can give you several different ways to speed up your desktop so you can get a little more life out of it before you have to run out and buy something new.
1. Clean Up Your System
Now this first option is the biggest, and will probably take the most time. While a little more involved, these steps should be done by every computer owner, but especially anyone who has a computer that is getting up there in years. I recommend following all of these steps before you try the other solutions, as this is also the cheapest way to get a little more speed out of your desktop.
1. Remove Old Files You Don’t Need
First, go through your hard drive and get rid of anything you don’t need. Make sure you check all the possible locations on your hard drive where you may be keeping files. This could be on your desktop, your documents folder and anywhere else you decided to stick stuff. Go through and organize your files getting rid of anything you don’t need. Once complete, go ahead and back up your files just to be safe before you do anything else in these steps.
2. Uninstall Unused Applications
Once your files are taken care of, it is time to hit the control panel and check out your applications. Chances are over the years you have gathered quite the collection of apps that you don’t need or even want. They could be old productivity apps or even old games that you no longer play. Go through one by one and remove any applications you no longer use. Once complete, give your computer a reboot to make sure everything is gone.
3. Run Disk Cleanup and Defrag Your Drive
Now that you have your old useless files and apps wiped from your drive, it is time to clean it up. Run disk cleanup to remove anything that may be leftover and be sure you clean cleanup the system files as well. Once that is complete, go ahead and run a defrag of your hard drive to reorganize all the files on the system so they are easier to access when you want to use them.
4. Run Virus and Malware Scans
Finally, it is time to scan for viruses and malware. Make sure your virus software is up to date and run the deepest scan it has available. Be patient as this will take a little bit of time but it will scan everything and get rid of any virus that may be hiding on your system.
After that, download a malware scanner such as Malwarebytes and do a check for malware. If need be, boot to safe mode to run the scan after you install it and update it. This will give you the best shot of catching all the junk on your system. You may even want to run the scan twice, as sometimes files can hide from it the first time. Once these scans are complete, give your machine a reboot for good measure to make sure everything has been removed from the system.
2. Add More Memory
If your computer has some age on it, chances are you are running it with 4GB of RAM as that has been the gold standard for quite some time. Today, 8GB and up is becoming more and more common and necessary in order to properly process the ever growing applications out there. Now we are talking about desktops today, so there is a good chance that your desktop will have two or more empty RAM slots available on the motherboard.
So, why not try maxing out the memory on your desktop before you go any further. By adding a little extra memory to your machine, you can greatly increase the amount of data it can store in memory and process. The net effect of this is a slight speed increase on your desktop. Now, depending on what you do will depend on how much of a speed increase, but every little bit helps. It is true there is some cost to this, but it is far less than buying a new desktop.
3. Install an SSD
Another great hardware purchase that I guarantee will give you a huge speed increase, is the purchase of a solid state drive, otherwise known as an SSD. These drives don’t use the traditional mechanical components of regular hard drives. That means there are no plates that have to spin and no mechanical arm that has to read the data. These drives are much faster than a regular hard drive, so by installing one and using it as your primary drive you will notice a big speed boost on your machine.
Just keep in mind that these drives are usually quite a bit smaller than a regular hard drive, unless you invest some serious money. So make sure you have enough space to store your files with cloud storage or the like. You may even want to keep your existing hard drive and keep two in your desktop. You will still get the speed boost that way while still maintaining plenty of storage for your files.
4. Install a Video Card
Now this one won’t always give you as much as a speed boost as you may hope, but it is effective in certain situations. If your computer uses onboard graphics or utilizes your processor and memory for shared graphics, then you could definitely benefit from this one.
Try installing a compatible video card in your computer and then disabling the onboard graphics. This will relieve the pressure of processing video off your processor and memory freeing up that additional power to process applications and documents. Now, if you have a video card already, you probably won’t notice much of a difference by upgrading it. However, if you only notice a slow down during graphical intense applications and games, it could still help you out, at least a little.
5. Consider Linux
One option that you should consider, especially if your desktop is getting up there in years, is a new operating system outside of Windows. Linux is a great free and open source solution, and offers many different options depending on the speed of your computer. There are many great distributions out there that are designed to work on older machines. In this setup, the operating system is lightweight and runs well even on systems with minimal hardware. If you want more life out of your computer and Windows just can’t do it for you anymore, this is the way to go.
6. Reformat Your Computer
Sometimes, none of the fixes above will quite do the trick. In this case, you should grab your Windows install disk and back up all of your important data such as your documents, music and movies to an external hard drive or a USB flash drive. Once your files are safe, it is time to get started. Stick that disk in and reboot your computer. Delete the partition on the drive and remake it.
This will take your computer back to the factory defaults and let you start fresh. In one clean install you can remove anything out there that may be slowing your computer and get rid of all the useless junk you really no longer need. In many extreme cases, this will do the trick for you but it is one of the most time consuming processes as it can take several hours to complete, so be prepared before you begin.
As you can see, there are many things you can do to breathe new life into your aging desktop. Personally I recommend trying one or more of these if you want to get your machine running as best as it can. Still, sometimes, the only thing you can do is buy something new. Again, we are here to help.
Check out one of our many desktop buying guides to help you find a new desktop that is right for you. Whether for business, a home office or video games, we have a buying guide that is right for you. So if none of these fixes work for you and you know it is time to invest in a new computer, then hop onto our guides today to find a new desktop that is just right for you.