Q: Any suggestions on how to speed up a two-year-old Windows 7 laptop that’s becomes so slow that it’s driving me crazy? Do I have to buy a new computer every two years?
No matter how much money you spend on a computer, if you don’t maintain it regularly, it can become noticeably slower in a fairly short period of time.
Properly maintained, there’s no reason your computer shouldn’t perform reasonably for at least five or six years, if not longer.
Keep in mind, the more time you spend on the Internet, the more your computer is exposed to unwanted programs and malware that can have a big impact on your performance.
There are plenty of DIY steps you can take to help improve your performance, but if they don’t yield the kind of improvement you’re looking for, having it serviced instead of replacing it will still be your best bet.
Start with boot times
Start your evaluation by the length of time it takes your system to boot up from a cold start. The longer it takes, the more likely your computer has been loaded with programs that have inserted themselves into your startup routine.
Not only does this cause your computer to take forever to start up, it hogs up valuable working memory (RAM) which makes everything slower.
You can do a quick test by opening the MSConfig utility and switching to the “Diagnostic startup” mode, which tells the computer to only load the basic necessities at startup.
If your system boots very quickly in Diagnostic mode, you’ll likely improve performance by reducing the load at startup. If it’s still really slow, you may have a hardware problem.
A deep scan with your security program and other free tools like CCleaner and Malware Bytes can weed out spyware, malware and browser add-ons that have sneaked into your system.
Free disk space is critical
If your hard drive is close to full, that will certainly cause major performance issues so take a look at how much free disk space you have left.
Uninstalling unnecessary programs can remove items from your startup and free up valuable hard drive space at the same time.
If you aren’t routinely running the Windows Disk Cleanup utility (at least once a month), your system is likely loaded up with lots of unnecessary junk that this tool can clear out for you.
If you need more space, installing a newer high performance Solid State Drive (SSD) or Hybrid hard drive can have a dramatic impact on performance and extend the life of your system even further.
Adding RAM is the best bang for buck
Your working memory can be a constant issue, especially if you like opening a lot of programs or browser tabs at the same time.
A quick way to see if more RAM could help you can be determined by opening the Task Manager and going to the “Performance” tab.
The second graph down shows you your physical memory usage history. The higher up the blue line is, the more likely that adding RAM will help improve performance.
Computers are very much like cars: If you neglect them, they won’t run as well or last as long as they should.