How to Speed Up a Slow Laptop

Whether it’s gradual or sudden, a slow laptop can be a nightmare to use. Thankfully, there are a few ways to speed up a slow or lagging laptop.

Even if you consider yourself pretty diligent when it comes to maintaining your laptop, it can be surprising how quick everything just slows down. From a simple decluttering to a few more technical options, jolting some life back into a slow laptop is pretty easy.

The first thing you should do is close any unnecessary system tray programs, as well as any programs that begin running on start-up. To close system tray programs, click the upwards arrow, and if there are any programs that don’t need to be running, right-click to close them. You might want some programs – such as antivirus software – to automatically run when your laptop is booted up; but others may be completely unnecessary. Open Task Manager, head to the Startup tab, and you’ll be able to view all the programs that run upon powering up your laptop, along with their impact and the publisher. Close any that you don’t especially require, particularly the high impact ones. But be careful, as some are vital for Windows to run; just make sure the ones with Microsoft listed as their publisher remain open and you won’t encounter any problems.

Next, you should consider uninstalling any programs that you don’t use. You can access Programs and Features through the Control Panel, and a good first step is to sort the items listed by size – you’ll be surprised at how much space many programs occupy on your laptop’s drive. Once you’ve removed any unwanted programs, consider either deleting or backing up some of your files and folders that are no longer required. Your Desktop, Documents and Downloads folders can become full of unwanted clutter over the months and years, which could be having a negative impact on your laptop’s performance. Get into the habit of clearing out your folders once or twice a month, and remember to empty your Recycle Bin afterwards. It doesn’t mean you have to lose your files; back them up onto an external hard drive if you think you’ll need them at a later date.

If your laptop has a mechanical hard disk drive, you should consider defragging it. Over times, files stored on your hard drive may become fragmented, or split between blocks that are far away from each other. This means that the hard drive takes longer to read a particular file. Defragmentation is automatic in Windows 10, 8 and 7, and the default schedule is once a week, but you can manually defrag your drive if you suspect that fragmentation might be causing your laptop to slow down. To do this, right click your hard drive (this is typically the C: drive), then click on Properties, followed by Tools. Under Optimise and Defragment Drive, click Optimise. You’ll then be presented with a list of drives. Select your primary drive, and click “Optimise” to defragment the disk.

Finally, if you are still using a mechanical hard disk drive (HDD) in your laptop, you should consider upgrading to a flash-based solid-state drive (SSD). Most manufacturers use these speedier, more compact drives in their laptops now, but if your laptop is a few years old, it will probably use a standard HDD. If possible, you could also add more RAM.

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