Last updated: Apr. 19, 2017
Sure, upgrading hardware is a proven way to speed up a laptop — it is without cost!
Besides the price you'll need to pay to get the physical hardware, e.g. an extra RAM (random-access memory), a larger volume HDD (hard disk drive), or a more advanced SSD (solid state drive) which is popular these days, time and efforts are also needed to install the device and make it work properly. Done incorrectly, your laptop would run slowly as usual.
Today, I want to share with you a few tips to speed up a laptop for free — without spending a cent adding new hardware or sending your computer to a computer shop for services.
Let's get started.
1. Be more organized
Your computer is like a man. A person can't be productive unless he/she is well organized in dealing with different things. The same principle goes with a computer. The more organized all tasks are, the machine is going to run more smoothly.
So, how do you make your laptop more organized? Simple! Start with clearing up the desktop, remove useless folders and files, and get rid of shortcuts you don't often use.
2. Less auto start up programs
Any laptops with Windows OS can slow down if it has to load additional programs when Windows powers up. The trick is often caused by third-party applications that add themselves to the auto start-up list, especially when your laptop is a brand new one — the manufacturer usually has pre-installed some bloatware (learn what bloatware is here).
3. Clean up hard drive
In general, 10-15% free space is required for any computer to perform well. That means if your laptop hard drive is 85% full or more, that's an issue. How to clean it up? A few manual tricks like uninstalling unused applications, transferring large files, removing duplicates and junks will help you regain a decent amount of space.
If you don't want to do these manually, a handy program like CleanMyPC also works great. Also, the app tends to find more junks with its deep cleaning features.
4. Know your laptop and less multitasking
A laptop computer is usually designed to meet your basic demands such as Internet surfing, documenting, communication, etc. Using for gaming, you are surely torturing it and its life will end sooner than later.
Another important thing you should keep in mind is that -- the more programs you run at the same time, the more slowdowns you're going to encounter. Bottom line, avoid multitasking at all cost.
5. Get rid of Adware
Adware are pop-up ads that flying around when you surf the Internet using a web browser (such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc). If your laptop is slow only when you browse the web, beware that Adware might have got you. Additionally, Adware might also damage your computer and invade your private data by building their keyloggers and spyware into the auto-downloadable program you install. To scan and remove Adware, use BitDefender Antivirus Plus.
6. Disable fancy but useless features
What does that mean? For example, if your laptop is with Windows 7 or Vista, there is a feature called Aero — a technology aims to improve the esthetic look of your screen.
But, it's not necessary because the feature tends to consume more system resources than it should, thus slowing down your PC. For Windows 8 and 10, the Visual Effects will also make your laptop sluggish if your PC does not have advanced hardware configuration. Learn how to optimize it here.
7. Update old third-party programs
If your laptop freezes when you open a specific application, chances are the program is not up-to-date. Check the provider's official website to see if there is a newer version available. For example, my laptop ran very slow on Photoshop CS4, and once I updated it to CS6, it's much better. In the meantime, a more updated version of software usually has fewer bugs and thus is safer.
8. Restart more often
Though it may sound silly, restarting your laptop is often the easiest yet most efficient way to speed things up. All buffers and holding processes will be cleared and reset after a system reboot. Also, once you finish using your laptop, instead of quickly folding it, shutting it down by clicking the Microsoft Windows icon on the left corner.
These are the eight favorite tips I use on a regular basis to keep my laptop clean and fast. Are there any other tricks? For sure. Also, depending on the particular situation your laptop is experiencing, the fixes can be different as well. I hope you like and have implemented some of the tips above.
Thanks to Melinda for submitting the issue:
"I am currently using a laptop computer with Windows 7 home basic operating system. I am a computer novice and use the laptop to surf the net, make documents, chat with friends, play music (on iTunes) and occasionally for playing games online. Recently the computer is running extremely slow. How can speed up my laptop for free (without paying a cent to upgrade hardware or buy a new PC)?" — Melinda
Influenced by the startup culture in the Silicon Valley, Jessica loves building things from zero to one and is keen on following news related to the Big Five tech giants and many SaaS startups.