Is your laptop feeling more and more sluggish as time goes on? You might be tempted to invest in a whole new computer because using yours feels like it’s slow as molasses. Don’t throw out your PC! There are several things you can do to speed it up even if you haven’t repaired a computer before. Best of all, none of these tricks will cost you a dime.
Our experts compiled a list of seven things you can do right now to make your PC move a little more like it did when you first bought it.
Clean Out Temporary Files
Temporary files from web browsing and software updates can clutter your PC. You’ve probably seen expensive tools that clean them out for you. The companies that make these apps don’t want you to know that you probably already have one.
Search for “Disk Cleanup” on the taskbar and click on it when it comes up. Select your main disk and click OK. It’s usually called C:\ on most Windows-based PCs. Make sure there are checks next to things like “Recycle Bin” and “Temporary Files” then click OK again. Give it a little time to clean things up. You might have a ton of junk to get rid of!
Think about all the files you’ve created yourself as well. Chances are that you have quite a few things lying around that you’re not using. Delete things you don’t need anymore. If you have a bunch of photos stored on your main drive, then consider moving them to a USB drive or external hard disk. This can free up a ton of space. It might also help reduce how much your computer has to work to index all the objects you have stored.
Clear Your Browser History
Disk Cleanup won’t clean out your browser if you’re using something other than IE or Edge. Chrome users can push Ctrl+H and then select “Clear browsing data” to clean things up. Firefox aficionados can push Ctrl+Shift+Del and then click on clear to get rid of unnecessary junk.
Regardless of which browser you use, make sure you don’t delete your saved passwords in the process. If you see a checkbox that would allow you to clear these, then make sure it’s empty before cleaning things up.
Close Out System Tray Apps
The system tray is a little area that lives right next to the clock on the Windows taskbar. You might not even know it’s there. This enables it to hide lots of apps you might not even realize are running.
Click on the up arrow near the tray. If you see the icons for some apps you don’t need, then right-click on them and select quit. Closing them will free up system resources.
Disable Apps that Run on Boot
Once you’ve figured out which of those hidden apps you don’t need, you can prevent them from starting. Newer versions of Windows let you manage startup tasks from the Task Manager. Hit Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open up the Task Manager. Select the startup tab. You can disable programs you know you don’t need by highlighting them and selecting disable.
Don’t disable anything you haven’t heard of. However, if something like Google Drive starts each time you turn on your computer and you don’t use it you can feel free to turn it off.
Disable Visual Effects
While eye-candy looks good, it might be holding back your PC. Search for sysdm.cpl from the taskbar and hit enter. While the name looks weird, you should see a simple System Properties box come up when you do so. Switch to the Advanced tab. Head to the Performance field and click on Settings.
Choose Custom at the top of the window. Make sure every box is clear except for these two:
• Show thumbnails instead of icons
• Smooth edges of screen fonts
Click on OK and you should have much less holding you back.
Slash Your Desktop Icons
Desktop icons don’t really take up much space. Depending on how they’re stored, they might not eat up anything at all. However, your PC has to work hard to keep track of them all. Since they’re not really a resource that has to be cleaned, no utility will pay them any attention.
Thus you could have dozens of them even after running disk checks and security programs. Drag any duplicates you have to the Recycle Bin and make sure to empty it when you’re done. You may have a legitimate reason for having dozens of icons on hand at all times. If you do, then create a single folder on your desktop. Give it a name you’ll always remember.
Drag your excess icons to it. When you need them again, you can simply double-click on the folder.
Right-click on an empty spot on the desktop when you’re done sorting through things. Click on “Sort by” and select type. This will put your remaining ones in a neat row.
Defragment Your Hard Drive
SSD users don’t have to worry much about fragmentation. It can slow down users with mechanical hard disks, however. If you have a traditional HDD, then you can speed it up to a point with a defragmenter.
Search for defrag on the taskbar and open the tool. Select your main drive and click on Analyze. You may be asked to approve the analysis. If your drive reads more than 5 percent fragmented, then click on Optimize. This could take some time, but the end result could be dramatic if you use a traditional hard drive.