The Tools, Habits, And Hardware Needed To Speed Up Your Computer


How to speed up your computer by changing your habits and using tools to clean your pc up

Everyone hates a slow computer and almost always the quickest way to speed up your machine is to simply change your behavior on how you save and access files. Computers should be a more focused subject in schools (alongside how to work with money and pay taxes) there is so much to learn. A simple example of a dirty habit to kick is to stop saving everything to your desktop, it sounds stupid, but I am willing to bet your desktop is cluttered right now.

How your behavior affect the performance of a computer

Your computer was fast when you bought it and now it isn’t. Yes the physical hardware aged and the software you run updated to newer and newer versions, that does play a role. However if you open your hard drive folder chances are your drive is near full and you have files stored unorganized all over your computer without any logic behind it, therefore it takes your PC longer and longer to find files because it’s scattered all over the place.

There is no point whatsoever to upgrade your PC and run special drive cleaning tools unless you fix the root cause; You. 

When you send someone an email and you want to add a picture, are you storing your images to dropbox first and then pasting that link only in the email to them or are you attaching all those images directly to your email?

When you attach those images directly then your PC needs to work harder to save it to the hard drive and to keep a copy of that email, but if you instead used dropbox to do the heavy lifting then you could have spared your PC the taxing work and instead make it the problem of the server running dropbox and also have mercy on the PC of your recipient. Don’t ever send me an email with attachments. I block emails that contain an attachment by default, instead, if you want to send me a bunch of images then you can upload them to dropbox and email me the link. 

That is a small example, but it illustrates the bigger point, think, think about how your interaction affects the computer and try to understand what actions are needed for the computer to execute your wish. Then ask yourself is there something I can do that can lessen the strain I am about to put on my computer. 

The next behavior to change is how you save and access files on your PC, the first rule is to delete, don’t be a hoarder. Everything today can be accessed on-demand, again and again without delay, so stop downloading unnecessary stuff and when you do download something which you end up not using, delete it. 

Lastly, do not install unnecessary programs, in fact, you probably do not even need any of the apps on your computer right now, because most stuff you can do in the cloud (for example Google Docs, works in your browser). The more computer programs you have the more residual data your computer needs to process and store even if you do not use it. If you installed skype you will notice that the app starts up when you boot up your PC, that is a great example of stupid software you do not need that steals processing power from your PC and directly steals time from you because you now need to wait for it to start up before you can use your PC. 

What components are in your computer and what do they do

I am trying here to explain the impact on our computers that we have control over, you have a lot of control over the performance of your PC, but it requires you to pay attention and think when you interact with the computer, do not use a computer when you are on autopilot instead try to understand what component of your computer is responsible for whatever action you are about to do.

These are the components responsible for the performance of your PC;

The CPU (Central Processing Unit); This is the brain of your computer, whenever you need to do a calculation in a spreadsheet, use the calculator, or navigate a piece of software the CPU is responsible for processing the request.

The RAM (Random-access Memory); RAM is temporary memory. Whenever you open up a Microsoft Word window, your computer places it in RAM, and when you close the window, that RAM is freed. Since RAM is volatile, its contents are lost if the machine loses power. This is why you lose a Word document when the power goes out if you didn’t save it.

The HDD / SSD (Hard Disk Drive / Solid State Disk): Since RAM is temporary, your computer needs a place to store data permanently. That’s where the hard drive comes in. The traditional hard drive consists of several spinning platters with an arm that physically writes data to the disk. However, these drives are slow and are starting to be replaced by the faster solid-state drives. Solid-state drives consist of flash memory, like your smartphone or flash drive. They are much faster than traditional hard disk drives, though cost more for the increased efficiency. 

Replacing a hard drive with a solid-state drive is one of the best computer upgrades you can make.

Let’s revisit that email example quickly if you send the email then you can either store those attachments on your hard drive and take up your ram when you open the email or you can offload it to dropbox’s harddrive and tax their machine instead of yours.

Stupid example, but there are many cases like this where you can change how you do things and in the process free up your PC. 

The best software to speed up your computer

Now that we have the basics out of the way in terms of how to use the computer, we can now look at software to help clean up our day to day fragments. As you use a computer windows will store stuff in temporary folders on your hard drive and the slowest part of your system is the hard disk drive. The hard drive is actually used for a lot more than just storing your pictures, the windows operating system and all of its configurations, registry files, and settings are also stored and accessed on the hard drive so a slow hard drive will slow down your entire system. That is why it is important to regularly perform maintenance tasks to clean up your hard drive. 

Lucky for us there are programs that can do this for us and I prefer to use Glary Utilities on my PC and recommend you do the same. The majority of PC speed up software are scams this is one of the few that are legit and can be used for free. There is a paid option and I do use that, but you absolutely do not need to in order to get the basic benefits of a clean-up. 

The app has a “One Click” clean-up function which makes it incredibly easy to use without having to worry about the underlying tasks needed to clean up your computer.

I personally like Glary because it allows me to easily see which programs are starting up automatically in the background when I power on my PC and then I can go and turn these off and prevent programs like Skype and Teamviewer from starting up when I boot up my PC. 

Glary Utilities also has a very easy to use uninstall program that helps you find the software you do not use that you can then uninstall automatically.

It also has a program to scan for duplicate files and folders, Photos, music, Word documents, videos – you name it, if it appears twice on your system then Glary Duplicate Cleaner will find it. This is especially useful for me as I often have many copies of the same document I am working on that I stored in different places and it takes up unnecessary space. 

What hardware to upgrade in order to speed up your computer

I wanted to make sure you understand what causes your PC to slow down and understand that the first thing to do before you upgrade your computer is to change how you use it, by being more efficient and then to compliment that efficiency using specialized software such as Glary utilities.

Buy a Solid State Disk (SSD)

The best upgrade you can do to speed up your computer is to replace your hard drive with a solid-state disk. A hard drive is a mechanical device, it has a spinning disk inside and an arm writing and reading the data to and from the physical disk, much like a CD player. Whereas a Solid State Disk (SSD) like the name implies is a solid physical piece of hardware with no moving parts. 

In practical terms, a hard drive is able to transfer files at about 110MB/s and then an entry-level solid-state drive is able to transfer files at around 550MB/s that is more than 5 times faster. The newer m.2 solid-state drives can transfer files at speed faster than 3 500MB/s that is about 30 times faster than hard drives.

So upgrading your PC by replacing the hard drive with a solid-state disk means your programs will open at least 5 times faster and Windows will boot up 5 times faster. That is a very big speed increase for not a whole lot of money because solid-state disks are incredibly cheap these days. 

I would recommend any of the following solid-state drives from Amazon;

The idea is that you install the operating system on the solid-state drive and you save your files and programs to the hard drive, that way the OS is fast and your programs live inside your RAM as you use them and your files are stored on the hard drive essentially becoming archive data instead of slowing down your PC.

Add more RAM to your PC

This is the second-best upgrade you can make, RAM is a small stick that sits on your motherboard oftentimes there will be an open slot available in which you can add more RAM. Here is a fantastic guide on how to upgrade your RAM by AVG.

Here is the RAM I would recommend once you know which version you need DDR3 or DDR4;

DDR3 RAM Options

DDR4 RAM Options

I hope this guide helped you to understand why your PC is slow and what is needed from your end to speed up your computer, hardware upgrades should always be the last resort, no point in throwing RAM at the problem, when the problem is you being inefficient. 

Bonus: Additional tasks that can speed up your computer

Uninstall extra antivirus programs (You only need one, choose wisely.)

If you use more than one antivirus or antispyware program at the same time, your device may experience decreased performance, become unstable, or restart unexpectedly. To remedy the issue, you should select one Internet security program to run on your device. You should then uninstall the other programs.

I highly recommend you either stick to the default Windows Defender on your PC or if you want to run a separate AntiVirus to use Immunet by Cisco, it’s free. Immunet utilizes cloud computing to keep your security always up-to-date against the latest malware including viruses, spyware, bots, worms, trojans, and keyloggers. 

Run fewer programs at the same time

This comes back to that behavior topic we discussed just now. You can improve system performance by changing your computing behavior. Running four or more programs while leaving multiple browser windows and email messages open may be more than your device can handle.

If you find your device slowing down, decide whether you really need to keep all of your programs and windows open at the same time. Also, find a way to remind yourself to reply to email messages later instead of keeping them open until you reply.

Turn off visual effects

If Windows is running slowly, you can speed it up by disabling certain visual effects. You can select which visual effects to turn off one by one or you can let Windows select for you.

To turn off visual effects, follow these instructions:

  • Swipe in from the right edge of the screen (if using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen and move the mouse pointer down).
  • Tap or select Search.
  • Type Performance Information and Tools in the Search box.
  • Tap or select Settings.
  • Tap or select Performance Information and Tools on the left side of your screen.
  • Tap or select Adjust visual effects. If prompted, type an administrator password or confirmation.
  • Under the Visual Effects tab, check on Adjust for best performance, and then tap or select OK. (For a less drastic option, select Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer.

Advance Tip to speed up your system cache

To further enhance your system’s performance you can disable the legacy 8dot3name conversion and set your systems file cache to maximum. To accomplish that respectively, go to start -> in the search box type cmd -> right click cmd and select run as administrator -> in the cmd windows execute:

Fsutil behavior set memoryusage 2

FSutil 8dot3name set 1

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