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Is your once speedy laptop now crawling at a snail’s pace? Do apps take eons to load? Are websites painfully slow to appear? Is the spinning wheel of death a constant companion? You’re not alone. Laptop performance tends to decline over time for a variety of reasons. The good news? With the proper tune-up techniques, you can restore that pep back into your machine.
This comprehensive guide takes you through the top methods for dramatically speeding up a laggy laptop to have it running like new again. Say goodbye to interminable load times and snappy response! Follow these tips to supercharge boot speed, accelerate app launches, boost browsing speeds, improve gaming frame rates and fully leverage your hardware’s potential.
We’ll cover simple software tweaks like storage optimization and getting rid of resource hogging bloatware. Moving up to hardware upgrades like adding RAM and installing a zippy solid state drive for even more substantial speed gains. And not forgetting basic maintenance like cleaning clogged fans and replacing worn batteries dragging you down.
Bring an old sluggish laptop back from the brink and maximize your machine’s performance. Let’s dive in to the top strategies for how to speed up your laptop!
Back Up Your Files
Before making any major changes to your system, it’s critical to back up your important data as a precaution. Losing files would be an absolute nightmare. Be sure to make backups of documents, photos, downloads, desktop files, and any other media you want to protect before proceeding. The two easiest ways to back things up are using an external hard drive or cloud storage service. External hard drives provide physical backups that you can store safely offsite, while cloud services like OneDrive, iCloud or Google Drive secure your files online.
Choose Your Backup Method
Evaluate whether a physical external device kept in a secure location or an encrypted cloud-based service better suits your needs and budget.
Perform Initial Full Backup
Don’t skip this step! Take the time to do a complete backup of all your important files when first setting up the backup process. This gives you a restore point to fall back on if needed.
Automate Future Backups
Configure your software to continue backing up new and changed files automatically on a regular basis. This maintains an up-to-date copy without having to remember to manually backup down the road.
Update Your Operating System
An outdated operating system can drag down performance substantially. Upgrading to the latest OS version helps your laptop run much quicker and more efficiently. It also provides you critical security patches to protect against vulnerabilities.
Check for Updates
Open your Settings app, go to the Update & Security section and check if any new Windows updates are available. Windows updates frequently with security patches and bug fixes, so install all available updates to stay current.
Consider a Clean Install
If your OS is very outdated, backing up your files and performing a clean install of the latest OS version can work wonders. While more work, this wipes the slate totally clean, removing any built up clutter slowing things down. Just be prepared to reinstall all your software afterward.
Increase Visual Performance
Also in Settings, choose ‘System’ then ‘Display’ and move the slider towards ‘Best performance’ to reduce fancy visual effects that drain resources.
Uninstall Unneeded Apps
Too many unused applications running in the background puts extra load on your laptop, dragging down its performance. Take time to carefully review all currently installed apps and remove any you no longer need.
Examine Start Menu Apps
Open your Start menu and browse through apps to spot ones you haven’t opened in awhile. Obsolete software just takes up space if not being used.
Check Third-Party Installs
Uninstall third-party software that may have come bundled with other programs but serves no real purpose. Things like trial antivirus suites or desktop widgets often sneak in.
Clean Out Old Software
If you used to use an app heavily but have since switched to alternatives, get rid of the old one. For example, if you’ve upgraded to Office 365, delete older Office version taking up space.
Decluttering unused applications speeds things up substantially by freeing storage space, memory, CPU usage and more so your laptop can focus resources on tasks that matter.
Use Storage Sense
Windows 10 comes with a great built-in tool called Storage Sense that helps clean out junk files that tend to gradually accumulate and clutter storage space. Lots of temporary caches, downloads and other unneeded files that just waste space can seriously slow things down. Enabling Storage Sense to periodically clear them out helps optimize available storage.
Turn On Storage Sense
Head into Settings > System > Storage and toggle on Storage Sense. Choose how frequently you want it to run (daily, weekly, monthly) and select what types of files to automatically remove.
Check Drive Errors
Also in disk properties, use the error checking tool to scan for and repair corrupted files. Hard drive errors that develop over time can definitely drag on performance.
Adjust Visual Effects
All the fancy visual effects in Windows like animations, transparencies etc. are nice eye candy but they drain substantial GPU and RAM resources. Trimming down these resource-intensive effects can provide a nice performance boost.
Open Performance Options
Go into System > Advanced system settings > Performance Options
Choose Adjust for best performance
This disables all unnecessary visual elements that tax resources without adding much benefit beyond aesthetics on a laptop. Toggling them off lifts that burden so your machine can allocate maximum power towards actual tasks.
Stop Background Processes
Apps running passively in the background, even when you aren’t directly using them, still consume valuable RAM and CPU cycles. Getting rid of unnecessary processes cluttering up resources in the background helps your laptop focus on the task at hand.
Use Task Manager
Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Windows Task Manager. Go to the Processes tab to view all currently running processes on your machine.
Identify and End Bad Actors
Carefully look through all open background processes. Anything unfamiliar or non-essential just wasting cycles should get the ax. Highlight any unused processes hogging CPU or memory usage and click End Task to close them out.
With pesky background processes culled, your laptop can devote more processing power towards important tasks rather than getting clogged up with forgetten apps idling in the background.
Check for Malware
Malicious software including viruses, worms, spyware and crypto-miners are unfortunately a leading cause of computer performance degradation. Malware actively running in the background mines cryptocurrency, records your activity or encrypts files which drastically slows everything down.
Make Sure Antivirus is Active
First, confirm whatever antivirus software you use is enabled and set to actively scan in real-time. Windows Security works fine for most. Top options like Norton, McAfee and BitDefender also provide robust malware protection.
Schedule in-depth antivirus scans at least weekly. Actively scanning proactively for infections is key preventing stealthy malware from leeching resources undetected for lengthy periods.
Quarantine or Remove Threats
If your scans uncover any nasty infections, clean or quarantine them immediately per your antivirus software’s instructions. Removing malware, adware and other viruses can dramatically help restore performance.
Add More RAM
Upgrading your laptop’s RAM is hands down one of the best ways to accelerate performance if it supports adding memory sticks. More RAM enables efficient multitasking and leaves plenty of headroom for having multiple browser tabs, programs and apps open simultaneously without lag.
Check Available Slots
Consult your laptop manual to confirm how many RAM slots it has, as well as the maximum supported memory. Most laptops have either two or four slots total.
Buy Compatible RAM
Pay attention to the specific type of RAM your laptop requires before purchasing an upgrade. Incompatible RAM either won’t fit physically or won’t run properly once installed.
Install New Sticks
When the new RAM modules arrive, open up your laptop bottom panel and gently insert them into the empty slots until the retention clips click into place securing them.
Use a Solid State Drive
Replacing an old school hard disk drive (HDD) with a speedy solid state drive (SSD) is one of the most impactful upgrades for dramatically speeding up laptop performance. SSDs have vastly faster read and write times compared to traditional HDDs with moving platters and heads. The responsiveness boost is instantly noticeable.
Choose a SATA or NVMe SSD
SATA SSDs connect via SATA ports just like HDDs, while faster NVMe SSDs use direct PCIe lanes. Pick one compatible with your laptop. 2.5″ form factors fit most laptop drive bays.
Image Existing Drive
Use disk cloning software to image your current drive contents over to the new SSD for easy data migration and a quick swap.
Clean Install Optional
For best results, doing a complete clean OS install optimizes the SSD’s performance rather than migrating over old clutter slowing things down.
Replace an Old Battery
Letting your laptop battery completely drain, or using an old worn out one with reduced capacity, forces the machine to work harder which bogs things down. Swapping in a new genuine OEM battery improves overall system performance and responsiveness compared to a failing one.
Check your battery health in Settings, and watch for telltale signs it’s worn out like short runtime before needing to be plugged in again. Order an affordable replacement battery from the manufacturer or trusted third party supplier. Instructions for safely exchanging the battery are in your owner’s manual.
Clean Out the Fans
Dust buildup inside laptops over time, especially in fan vents, prevents proper airflow circulation to cool components. This causes internal temperatures to creep higher under load. Excessive heat then forces the machine to throttle down processing speeds to prevent overheating damage. Carefully cleaning out blocked fans allows for much better ventilation and cooling.
Open Up the Case
Power down, unplug and remove the bottom panel to expose internal fans. Review your model’s owner manual if unsure how to access them safely.
Blow Out Dust
Use a can of compressed air to thoroughly blow out visible dust clumps cluttering up fan blades, heat sinks and vents. Slow sweeps about half an inch away work best to fully dislodge it.
Remember to inspect and clean your laptop’s cooling system at least annually. More frequent cleanings may be necessary if you have pets that shed near your work area. Maintaining clean ventilation and airflow prevents performance-killing overheating.
Tweak Your Power Settings
Dig into your Windows power and sleep settings to adjust them for maximum performance when plugged in. The default balanced mode throttles components pretty aggressively to conserve notebook battery life. Tweaking advanced options ensures it runs at higher sustained speeds when you need it.
Choose High Performance
Click the battery icon in the system tray and move the slider to Best Performance to set a less restrictive power profile.
Now open advanced settings to reduce processor throttling thresholds so performance stays consistent when taxed and disable rapid suspend features. But don’t forget to revert these settings when back on battery to avoid quickly draining it.
Following the tips outlined here helps maintain a speedy, responsive laptop that runs like new by proactively caring for hardware and software. Performing regular maintenance prevents gradual slowdowns over time. And taking advantage of easy upgrades like adding RAM or installing an SSD noticeably boosts real-world performance.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Speed up Your Laptop
1. Does closing browser tabs speed up my laptop?
Yes, having too many active browser tabs uses up RAM which can slow things down. Close tabs you aren’t actively using.
2. Will upgrading to an SSD improve gaming performance?
Yes, an SSD significantly reduces game loading times and improves FPS compared to a traditional hard drive.
3. How often should I restart my laptop to keep it running fast?
Restart your laptop at least once a week. This clears out memory and allows processes to start fresh, preventing gradual slowdowns over time.
4. Is it safe to disable or uninstall antivirus software to speed up a laptop?
No, it is not recommended. Antivirus software is vital for protecting against malware that could seriously cripple performance if infected.
5. Does the amount of stored files slow down a laptop?
Yes, a drive that’s nearly full leaves less room for temporary files and caches that help things run faster. Move files to external storage to free up internal drive space.
6. Will installing more RAM void my laptop warranty?
Maybe. Upgrading RAM yourself is unlikely to void a warranty these days, but confirm with your manufacturer to be 100% certain before doing so.
7. Is it better to add an external SSD or upgrade internal storage?
For best performance, upgrading internal storage to an SSD is ideal as external drives tend to be slower. But an external SSD still provides a nice boost if internal upgrade options are limited.
8. Can I speed up my laptop by disabling wireless connectivity when not in use?
Yes. Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you don’t need internet access allows your laptop to devote more resources towards running applications faster.
9. Does laptop performance decrease over time naturally?
Yes, laptop performance often declines gradually with age due to reasons like accumulated temporary files, fragmented hard drives, worn out hardware components, etc. Proper maintenance helps minimize this.
10. How often should I clean out my laptop’s cooling fans?
Inspect and clean your laptop’s cooling fans every 6 months at minimum. More frequent cleanings may be required if you have pets shedding near your workspace.
Keep That Laptop Zipping Along
After going through all these optimizations, give your revitalized laptop a test drive! Fire up your usual programs and apps while listening closely to fan noise, monitoring task manager resource usage and paying attention to general responsiveness.
Things should now feel much snappier and more responsive thanks to decluttered storage, ample free RAM, a cool-running interior and lack of malware dragging it down. Upgraded hardware like an SSD or extra memory kicks performance up another notch. Well maintained, your smooth-running laptop can now keep pace for years to come.
While it takes a bit of diligence, properly caring for your good laptop pays off with faster boot times, quicker application launches, more efficient multitasking and better gaming frame rates. And your machine will thank you! Following smart computing habits like closing unused browser tabs, monitoring running processes and keeping the fans dust-free prevents future slowdowns.
Treat your laptop right and it will deliver speed to spare. Skimp on necessary maintenance and upkeep however, and it inevitably bogs down over time – sometimes to frustratingly sluggish levels. Use the comprehensive performance guide above to ensure your faithful device continues operating at its very best. Both you and your laptop will enjoy the benefits for the long haul!