With this current worldwide pandemic putting a great many of us all on lock down. We have been forced to spend a substantial amount of time at home on our computers, either working or playing. Nevertheless I think we can all agree how infuriating it is when our computer is moving along like a turtle walking through peanut butter! So if you would like to try to speed things up a bit, continue on to discover how. Feel free to take all the steps or pick an choose!

Things to do to Windows OS

Restart your PC

This may appear obvious, but most people leave their computers running for days and sometimes weeks on end. Only restarting it when there is a problem. What happens is over the course of time, you are using multiple applications, and visiting many different types of websites. Often, these applications have features that allow them to continue to run in the background even when they have been closed. My policy is to restart my computer at the end of the day, or at the beginning of the day before I get rolling. This can be an issue for people who like to keep everything open at the end of the day so they can pick up where they left off when they start again the next day. This may seem convenient, but it is a terrible habit for your computer, as well as your brain!

Confirm updates

Updates to your Windows operating system are critical to its performance. You may already be in good shape here, if your computer is set to update automatically. Be careful though, if that is the case (especially if your computer is a bit more "seasoned"). Older computers do not always play nice with Windows 10 updates, especially the major updates that make significant changes to the operating system and how it works with your computer's components. Our advice with older computers is to turn off auto updates and visit your hardware manufacturer's support page to ensure that it is compatible with the latest Microsoft updates. If so, great! If not, please do not risk applying these updates. They could have catastrophic effects on your system. Namely, rendering it unusable. I made this mistake a few years ago, and I had to replace my computer's motherboard completely. This is a bit of a "catch 22" though because not applying updates may not break your computer but not applying updates leaves your computer open to serious security threats. Lastly, if you are still using Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 it is time to upgrade, they are not supported any longer by Microsoft. If you are using these and on the internet, you are sending a giant "bat signal" into the internet sky alerting all cyber creeps to come pillage your computer. Big Caveat: Your computer may be too old to upgrade. In this case its time to look at options for a new purchase. If you find yourself in either of these situations, jump down to the end of the article to find our contact information. We can help you navigate through this!

To check for or run updates in Windows 10, click on the start menu button and type "update" and choose "check for updates". If you are up to date it will say "You're up to date". If not you will see the suggested updates. Before you run, remember to check your computer manufacturer's support page to see if there are any issues with your computer and updates.

Check for manufacturer updates

Every computer has a manufacturer, and most* manufacturers have a support website for their products. When you visit, there will usually be a section where you can find your specific device by entering a service tag, product number or serial number. Otherwise major manufacturers will offer a software download the can be run to auto detect your device. The auto detect software is great because it will tell you exactly what parts of your device need to be updated and it will provide (usually) easy directions for getting everything done.

Most*: If you built or bought your computer from a shop or someone who built your computer and you are not tech savvy, you need to get a hold of them or someone with experience to ensure your hardware and components are up to date. Building or having someone build you a cool computer has its advantages, but this is definitely not one of them.

Check Start up apps

Computers can quickly get logged jammed by applications that get installed and are set to automatically run when your computer starts up. Some are necessary for the system, or very convenient for things we need. However, many are not necessary and should be stopped.

To check for startup programs, open Task Manager (Ctrl + Alt + Del then select Task Manager), then click the 'Startup' tab. Look at the 'Startup Impact' for each application for example 'High' as this is a good way to spot apps that are likely to slow your system down. If you are not familiar with the application that shows up, do a little research on it to help you decide if you should disable it or not.

To disable an application running at start up, right click on it and choose "disable."

Run disk clean up

Disk clean up is a neat little utility that is built into Windows. Use this to get rid of all the temporary files that pile up in your computer during everyday use. Things like web images, thumbnails and temporary program files that get downloaded.

Click on the start button and type "disk cleanup." Choose the option presented to open the utility. The program will give you the choice of types of files to remove. Mark the ones you want gone (if you're not sure, give us a call we can help) by marking the check boxes of the type you want to remove. Choose "clean up system files" to begin the process. This program will even tell you how much room you are going to gain.

Remove unused software

This is what computer people call "bloatware." This is the software for the most part that comes pre-installed on your computer. You never use it, but it is there taking up valuable resources.

Unused software could also be applications that get installed with or without you knowing. Either way you are not using it and it is taking up space.

These programs not only take up space, they also affect performance.

If you want to check what applications you have installed open your control panel by clicking on the start button and typing "control." When the option for "control panel" shows up click it. From there click "programs" next choose "programs and features" finally click "uninstall a program." It may take a few moments for all the applications to populate so be patient. Scroll through and see what is installed!

Finally, if you want to uninstall anything, just right click on the name of the program you want to get rid of and select "uninstall." Windows will ask you if you are sure. If you are, click "yes." Be careful here that you do not uninstall something you need. If you are not sure, be sure to reach out to someone who can help. You definitely do not want to uninstall something you need.

Disable special effects

Windows 10 has a lot of built in graphical features that while they are cool, they aren't essential. So, if you're more concerned about how your computer performs and not how flashy things are on the screen, then you may want to disable these graphical features.

To do this, click the start button and type "this." When "this pc" shows up, right click on it and select "properties." In the left column select "advanced system settings." Next click the "settings" button and click "adjust for best performance." Click "apply" then "ok" and "ok." Finally save and close all applications then restart your computer.

Disable transparency effects

This may not seem like a big deal, but making your computer deal with transparent graphical effects means it has to double up on planes that are being calculated. An old computer or even a new budget priced computer will struggle with this.

To turn this off, click the start menu and type "make." You'll see an option to "make start, taskbar and action center transparent." Click on this to open up "color" settings and choose to turn off transparency.

Run system maintenance

This is built into Windows 10 and running it will perform maintenance tasks that clean up your system and hard drive.

Often this utility is set to run routinely in the background, but if your computer is performing unusually poorly, running it manually can help.

To run it manually, open your control panel and choose "system and security" then click "Security and maintenance." Click on the arrow to open up the maintenance options and select "start maintenance." Remember to save and close any files or applications before you begin.

Things to do to your hardware

Upgrade your RAM

The speed of your computer is largely dependent on how much RAM is installed and how much is needed for it to run efficiently. At a minimum Windows 10 needs 4GB of RAM, but let me stress this is a minimum and is barely passable if you want a positive experience.

Because computers vary so widely in their make up, you will want to ascertain specifically the kind and amount of RAM your computer will accept. The best way to do this is to check with its original manufacturer for details.

You can do this by visiting the manufacturer's support site and entering the computer service tag/part number/ serial number where it is needed. Once you know the type and volume, head over to a retail website like Amazon, Walmart, Tiger Direct, or NewEgg and purchase what you need.

When it comes to installing, you could do it yourself, have an experienced friend or family member do it, or find a local pc repair shop take care of it for you. It's not a huge job, and should not cost a fortune.

Upgrade to an SSD

If your computer is older or was pretty cheap when you got it, there is a good chance that it uses a mechanical hard disk drive (HDD.) These have been around a long time and operating systems have officially left them behind.

Where the HDD had a spinning disk where data was stored, and a device had to search that spinning disk to access the data, the SSD is a silicon board with transistors and no moving parts where larger amounts of data can be access almost instantly. They cost more to produce and therefore purchase than an HDD, but their benefits far out way their price. Plus the prices of an SSD has dropped dramatically in the past year or so.

As for replacing your HDD, unless you know what you are doing (and if you did you probably would not be reading this) I 100% recommend you speak to a professional (or at least a friend that is experienced.) Trying to upgrade your hard drive without knowing what you are doing is risky. You could lose all the data on your current computer, and if that is important to you, then find a pro.

Consider purchasing a new computer

Unless you've budgeted for this, you probably don't want to hear it. It may just be time for you to retire your current computer. If you think this may be where you fall, its worth having an informed discussion or at least looking at articles fully dedicated to the subject.

Hopefully you found this information helpful in your quest to speed up your computer. These instructions may or may not help, but I would absolutely suggest you try them before going all in on deciding to buy a new computer, that is unless you are just itching for a new toy/ business tool!


Brian Collins

Panacea Solutions

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