Between kid’s homework and working from home, a computer can be a bit of a workhorse. And, over time, it can get pretty crammed with things we aren’t using or don’t need. The problem is that you don’t tend to notice an incremental decrease in speed. It will be one day when you are waiting 5 minutes for an application to open, and you keep hitting the loading mouse animation instead. There are, however, a few fixes that take a little time, but are relatively easy, and once you have done the whole list, you will simply need to keep a check on your computer weekly.
Check Hard Disk Space
Before you can make changes, you have to know what you are working with in terms of space. Ideally, you have a minimum of 15% free space. Most computers will show you a breakdown of what is taking up the most space. So you will be able to choose the right tip below for you.
If you find that you have a lot of space, but your computer is running slow, then you may have an issue with your operating system.
Yes, your computer is one more thing that you will have to organize in the home. But it is for your benefit too. Make sure that you go through all of the files on your desktop – do they need to be there? Cleaning up the files and folders on your desktop will free up some RAM.
Each of the items that your computer has to load takes up memory space to do so. Put files into folders, label folders correctly – and if you don’t need them, don’t make your computer have to load them and remove them from the desktop.
For extra organization, if all of your family members use a computer, label a single folder with each name and have them put all of their work and files in there.
Many people are guilty of having more than 9 tabs open at any time. There are times that you are going to need a few tabs open, sure, but the ones you don’t need should be closed. Those unused tabs are going to be chomping a huge amount of memory – and will slow down your computer because of it.
Train yourself only to keep open what you are currently using. If you like to keep them open to ‘save them for later,’ try using Pocket and saving the sites there so you can go back to them later.
If your computer is giving your notification about the amount of room you have on your hard disk, don’t just X it off and ignore it. This is your opportunity to do something about it. If you like to make things as easy as possible, then check out this list of the best disk analyzers. They are faster and more efficient than us most of the time. The same goes for notifications of updates. They often have bug fixes and software updates that will keep your computer ticking over well. Bugs, glitches, and outdated software will slow down your computer.
The Good Sleep
Just list us, your computer does need to have some real downtime. Although many of us simply close the lids of our laptops or leave our computers to go into a sleep mode, that isn’t really enough. When you leave your computer running, all of the programs are running too. Letting the computer get a proper shut down once a week will give it the chance to run some scripts during startup, and may prompt certain tools to run maintenance too. Once a week is usually enough if you like to have your computer ready when you are.
If you have a wide range of browser extensions but are using exactly 0 of them – then ask yourself, do they really need to be there?
Check out a list of browser extensions removal guides here.
Delete Temporary Files
You might know it, but there are so many temporary files that can get loaded up on your computer. Cookies, caches, internet history – they all eat away at the space on your hard disk. Removing them will free up some of that much-needed space on your computer. There are a few options you can use.
CleanMyMac is the obvious and best choice for a Mac computer or Macbook.
If you have a Windows computer, you can access a disk cleanup be heading to start> All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup or navigating to the Free Up Space tool.
If you have a lot of folders, files, and photos that you want to keep, but you know that they are taking up a lot of valuable space, then it is time to move them. You can opt to put things into cloud storage. Here are a few options for that:
- MediaFire – free option provides 10BG for free, or up to 50GB free with bonuses.
- Sync.com – cheapest option (for most memory) is Personal, $8 for 2TB up to Advanced teams 10TB per user at $15 per user a month
- Dropbox – an OG in the cloud storage space, 2TB free as a starter, which is usually enough for most people.
- OneDrive – not the best offering at only 5GB, but that is a storage-only plan. For 7.99 a month, you can have 6TB and up to 6 users, plus a range of other benefits.
- iCloud – most Apple users will use this already. You get an initial 5GB of storage, and for 2.99(USD) you can upgrade to 200GB, and for 9.99(USD) you can have 2TB
There are other options, so look at what suits your storage needs and budget. The next option is something you might want to do anyway, and that is getting an HDD. When buying an HDD, there are few things that you might want to look for:
- HDD is one option SSD is another. SSDs read and write faster, there are no moving parts, and they make no noise. They are typically more expensive – which doesn’t always make them a strong contender.
- Size matters in two ways. The HDD you choose will likely be around 3.5-5 inches and pretty lightweight. The memory is going to make a difference too. Ideally, you want to go to the upper end of your budget for the most amount of storage space. Between 2-5TB will be more than enough for most families.
- Protection. If you have the option to have an HDD with a drop-resistant case or with an extra protective layer, then take it. Once everything is loaded up onto your HDD, it is important that you keep it well protected.
- Compatability, most will come with the ability to work with Windows or Apple, just make sure you explicitly see that on the box or in the specs.
If you downloaded a lot of different applications just to test them out, then it is time to say goodbye to them. While you might not think they do any harm, they are taking up memory just being there. Not only that, but they will likely be running auto-updates and often in the startup programs too.
So, go through all of the applications on your computer. If you aren’t sure what something is, then head to Google and get a firm answer before disposing of it. Some of the programs that you don’t recognize may be integral to the running of your computer.
There is a strong chance that you don’t need everything that is in your startup menu. The programs that automatically launch and keep running sap a lot of the memory your computer needs to run efficiently. So it is time to take a look and change it up.
For Windows, click the Start menu, look for ‘MSConfig’, and then click the Startup tab. You will then see a list of programs that are starting up every time you turn your computer on. Go through them all and see what you really need. Again, if you aren’t sure what a program does, take a minute to Google it.
For Mac, you can use the CleanMyMac mentioned above, or you can click the Apple icon, navigate to System Preferences>Users & Groups>Login Items. That is where you will see the list and can uncheck what you don’t need.
Make an appointment with your computer every week to take care of the admin. If everyone in the family uses the computer, you can show them how to keep things neat and how to move things from their folder to the trash, or to cloud space. If your computer starts making whirring or whizzing noises or gets hot – it is a good indicator that it needs a break and perhaps extra ventilation.
After the big cleanup, you will notice a marked increase in the speed of your computer, and with weekly maintenance, you will maintain that speed over time.