Eventually, no matter how well you take care of your desktop or laptop computer, it will begin to slow down. There are many reasons for this aside from aging hardware. Assuming there are no major failures such as a dying hard drive, lack of RAM or storage, or something similar, there are ways to keep it running smooth just like the day you bought it.
Even if you don’t necessarily want to hear this, there are some things you should be doing to maintain your computer anyway, especially if it’s your daily driver.
1. Make sure everything is up to date
As much as you might hate to hear it, installing software and operating system updates can actually improve performance. Not only that, but they can make your device that much more secure too. A lot of times the updates fix security vulnerabilities or holes that unscrupulous individuals can use to take advantage of said system.
If anything, installing all the latest updates can sometimes add new features or fix bugs that might have existed in the original software. It’s in your best interest to keep everything up-to-date.
2. Use CCleaner to wipe the junk
CCleaner is an excellent — and free — tool to help you clean out all the junk that builds up over time. One particular benefit is that it will clean the registry on a PC to make it boot and operate faster. Every time you install and uninstall an application information gets recorded in the registry. While it does need cleaning every so often, you want to be careful that you’re not removing important registry entries because that can have the opposite effect. CCleaner will safely remove everything that you don’t need.
The registry is not an issue with Mac computers, but you still need to remove some of the clutter like cookies, the browser cache, and more. You don’t actually need an application to do this for you, but there are plenty of tools available if you’d rather go that route, such as MacPaw.
If you’re working with a PC, running this application on a monthly basis can definitely keep your computer in good shape. While you can’t expect it to run hardware intensive programs — like video games — much better, you can expect it to handle common tasks in a much more efficient manner.
However, nothing will ever compare to the true boost you’ll receive from adding more RAM.
3. Reboot the operating system
If you leave your computer on for long periods of time, it might benefit from a reboot once in a while. This includes laptops that you put in hibernation or sleep mode. In fact, a reboot can often solve a lot of minor issues as well, including ones that might be related to networking, graphics, faulty programs, and even performance. If we had a penny for every time a reboot solved a small issue, we’d be rich. Believe it or not, this holds true for all devices including smartphones, tablets, routers, and even game consoles.
Essentially, it all boils down to resource management. As you perform basic actions on your device or computer it stores the necessary data in the RAM or memory. A reboot will wipe that clean, allowing the system to start from scratch. Sometimes, issues can even be caused by a minuscule power failure which restarting will completely wipe away.
4. Free up some hard drive space or defragment the drive
If you don’t have multiple hard drives installed in your computer — and sometimes even if you do — you might benefit from freeing up some space. If the main hard drive you use is about 80% full, it might be time to remove old files, uninstall applications that you never use or transfer some of that data to an extra drive.
This happens for many reasons, which actually have nothing to do with the amount of data you have stored on your hard drive. File fragmentation is actually the culprit of a lot of problems, which can be remedied by running a defrag program that reallocates hard drive data.
A full drive can also negatively impact the cache, which often resides on the main drive you’re using for the operating system. Since most users don’t install additional hard drives, this can cause a bit of a slowdown as the computer is trying to access both the data stored on the drive and the cache partition.
If you want to know more about the subject, How-to-Geek actually has an in-depth write-up that you might benefit from reading.
5. Check for spyware, malware, or a virus
While we’re not recommending this, these days you can get away without installing some sort of antivirus software on your computer because there are so many services hosted in the cloud. Furthermore, virus-fighting applications can be resource hogs at times. Even so, it’s still a good idea to periodically scan your machine for malware, spyware, or viruses.
All three of these things are relatively easy to come across, especially if you install a lot of programs and applications on your machine, particularly freeware. In addition, spyware and malware are just as responsible for slowing computers down as a nasty virus.
Tools you can use to clean out your system include Kaspersky’s TDSSkiller rootkit removal tool and Emsisoft’s Emergency Kit, both of which are free. Of course, antivirus software of your choosing is also a good bet.