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How To Keep Your PC From Slowing Down.

Luis Silva

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In the last 20 years, computers have become a necessity. People can spend hours in front of them every day for years and still expect them to be ready, reliable and fast like in day-one. Unfortunately, more often than not I see people getting negligent about those little things they should avoid doing on their pcs or laptops. Sometimes it takes only a small change of habits to keep them as fast as they were when they first bought them.

Here’s your breakdown of ways to keep you from slowing it down and how to speed up your computer:

#1. Avoid installing that app.

This is by far the most common mistake I see people doing, and this will definitely slow your pc over time, much quicker than you can imagine.

Usually what people don't know is that when they install an app, it starts spreading files on system folders and adding settings all over the system registry.

Do you think that when you uninstall an app, the system will remove every file and every entry of the system registry? That isn't always the case. More often than not, they leave configuration and preferences files all over the system folders and also on the system registry file.

Also, when you install an app, there's a chance it will set up a process or service to run at startup, slowing down your PC startup time.

Don't forget that everything that's running on your computer right now takes some memory (RAM) and processor time to run.

What you should do:

Avoid installing apps that you don't need or if you really need that app, first go to the Microsoft Store to see if there's an app available there. If not then you should search for a web version or a portable app on websites like portableapps.com.

Apps on the Microsoft Store run in containers and usually don't write definitions on the system registry file so when you uninstall them they don't leave anything behind.

Some web pages also allow you to use them as if they were an app. Did you know you can extract an audio file from a video online? Just search for "mp4 to mp3 online". You can also try "docx to txt online" if you want to get a plain text file form your word document.

Portable apps also don't install anything on the PC that is running them. This is also great because you can run them from a USB stick or hard disk drive, without getting worried about installing and uninstalling them on every PC you work with. Just be careful about where you get them because they can also be illegal, have a virus or spyware.

#2. Avoid installing more app features than you really need.

Usually, when you install a printer, the setup program installs every feature he can "think of" you may want to use. But more often than not, what you really want is only to print your word or excel files.

What you should do:

When installing a printer (or any other app), you should uncheck every feature that you know you won't use right now. Don't worry, because if you need them, you can always run the setup app to add them later.

If you don't need anything else than just printing your files, usually every printer manufacturer has a little setup app that only installs the printer driver.

This isn't something you should overlook, because almost all these extra features stay running in the background, using your RAM and your processor.

#3. Avoid installing apps without reading every little detail on their setup screens.

Have you ever found a great app to do that thing you always wanted on your pc, and then you go check to see that you can even have it for free?

No doubt it's a great feeling, but just don't rush yourself and go click "next/next/next" on all those setup screens.

There are lots of ways a developer can earn a living from a free app, and app bundling is one of them. This may happen more often than you think. Sometimes, when you are installing an app, you can see a tick on a checkbox letting you know that when you install this app, you are also getting another one (or a browser add-on) from someone else. Usually, you don't really need that extra app that will only slow down your pc.

What you should do:

You have to be very careful and always look for that checkbox. If, for some reason, you can't uncheck it, seriously consider not installing the app you really want. You can always go and search for some other app.

#4. Don't go by a year or two without performing a clean installation of windows.

This definitely has to be on the top 5 list of things that are slowing down your pc.

Now, when I say a year, it doesn't mean that you should wait that long, neither when I say two years, means that you can't wait 3 or 4 years before you even consider erasing everything on your pc and start over. That only depends on how much apps (as well as system upgrades) you installed and uninstalled since day-one. I'm sure you can remember how fast your pc was the first week you used it and if you follow this tip, you can have it again as fast as it used to be.

I know lots of people will just advise you to uninstall all the apps you don't need, to defrag your hard drive or to run a registry cleaning tool, but the only way you can know for sure that your pc is running at full speed is to start all over again. This takes time, and if you forget to back up any of your important files, you'll probably lose them for good, but you should know that every minute you spend doing this is a minute well spent. The worst way you can waste your time is by trying something you don't know for sure it will do any good.

This is also the only way you know for sure that you'll get rid of that virus or spyware/malware you may have on your pc that even the best antivirus may not find. It's also the best way to get rid of all software that came pre-installed on your pc (bloatware) that you don't use and never found a way or ever bothered to uninstall.

What you should do:

Make sure you have a USB stick or hard disk drive big enough to back up and store every file you want to save.

Make a checklist of everything you want to save. May that be your documents, your saved games, your video files, your pictures, your mp3 collection, your movies, and even your browsers bookmarks. Also, don't forget every password you've ever entered in any of your apps or websites and the installation file (or media) of every app or hardware you'll want to use again.

On Windows, head to Update & security in Settings and choose Recovery to get started. Then you can try Reset your pc or Advanced startup.

If you want to go old-school just make sure you have a media from where you can install your operative system from scratch. If you're using Microsoft's Windows 10, you should get an empty 8Gb USB stick and then go to where you can follow the instructions.

#5. You may have an old-age pc running new resource-hog apps.

I'm sure you've already heard someone saying how time goes by so fast, and I'm also sure you've said that to someone else too. Well, time indeed goes by very fast.

Yesterday you had a shiny new PC running every app smoothly and quickly. Years go by, apps get more features over time, and your PC isn't keeping up with them. Maybe you are using an app that wasn't planned to run on an old and not so optimized pc.

What you should do:

Consider going after other apps with fewer features that don't need as many resources to do your work.

There isn't much more you can do that doesn't involve opening up your pc. Head over to the "What else can you do to speed up your pc?" section to get some free tips.

#6. Avoid having virus, malware or a crypto mining software running.

I'm sure someone else already gave you this advice: You have to have a good antivirus on your PC. Well, what you may not know is that not even the best antivirus software is enough to keep you safe from new malware or variants of known malware. Antivirus products create a signature for each piece of malware that is detected in the wild, and it could be days or months for all endpoints to be updated. That means you may have been infected and don't even know it. Not all malware slows down your pc, but some do have a noticeable impact on your computer performance.

You also may have allowed (or not) a crypto mining software or browser extension to run on your computer without notice. Virtual currencies like Bitcoin require massive hardware power to be mined.

What you should do:

You may try another antivirus or antimalware software from time to time. Just be careful to not installing software from unknown companies. There are lots of fake antivirus or antimalware apps on the web that may be considered malware themselves. Usually, they fake their reports leading you to believe your pc is infected and even offer to clean some fake infections for free and asking you to pay for them to clean the rest of them.

You can also reconsider tip number 4 and do a clean installation of your pc instead.

Whatever you do, don't install a second antivirus without uninstalling or disabling the old one first. Head on to the next tip to know more about it.

#7. Avoid using a slow antivirus or having more than one running at the same time.

Having antivirus software has been a mandatory security rule for decades, but yours may be running regular background scans at the worst possible times. If you still have a traditional hard disk drive, it can get even more noticeable.

You may also have felt for the temptation of thinking that two antiviruses are better that one. Well, in that case, you are wrong because they usually don't get along with each other and that may be really slowing down your pc.

What you should do:

Head into your antivirus settings and configure it to scan late at night when you aren't using the computer.

If, for some reason, you were able to install two antiviruses and have them running at the same time, just disable or uninstall one of them, and you're good to go.

#8. Pay attention to your hard drive.

Your hard drive may suddenly fail. That won't slow down your computer, because it will just stop working. But your hard drive can also be failing over time. Traditional hard disk drives have billions of sectors, where they keep all your information stored. Over time, some of those sectors start to lose the ability to store information, and when requested, they take longer to give it.

Your apps will have to wait longer to get the data they need to process, and it will seem to you that your pc is just painfully slow.

What you should do:

You can try to diagnose it by carefully listening to your hard drive working. If you don't know the difference between a good and a bad working hard drive and if you have a hard drive status light that lights up every time your PC requests something from it, then you can check that light. If it stays on longer than it used to and it doesn't even blink for up to 20 seconds or more, then you may need to buy a new drive.

If you don't have a specific reason to need lots of storage space, the best thing you can do to speed up your pc is to buy a Solid State Drive (SSD). Hard disk drives have loads of moving components that can take a long time to fire up. An SSD uses flash memory (like a USB stick) and can read data a lot quicker, therefore, speeding up your pc.

#9. Avoid working with an almost full disk drive.

That may be one of the reasons your pc is running slow but not that likely.

Operative systems nowadays have ways to warn you if that's the case. They even have tools for helping you to free some disk space if needed.

What you should do:

If you received a warning that your drive is getting full not that long ago, you should consider taking this seriously and delete some big and unnecessary files or moving them to an external storage drive. This is even more critical if you've been warned more than once lately because operative systems need to have at least 2 or 3 Gb of free space for them to move things around freely.

#10. Don't run too many apps at once.

You may already know that. What you may not know is that you can have one of your apps consuming more resources than you may think. One such case can be your internet browser, especially if you like to keep lots of tabs open (see next tip). If you don't know your way to the task manager (if you're on a windows pc), you can still find that app because your pc will start to work slower when you open it.

What you should do:

You should close every app or browser tab that you can spare. If you're only working with the apps that you really need there's not much that you can do, besides adding up more memory or changing your hard disk drive to an SSD (see the "What else can you do to speed up your pc?" section below).

Don't forget the apps that are running and have automatically started when you turned on your pc. Remember tips from 1 to 4?

#11. Close your browser tabs and disable unused extensions.

Nowadays it's almost impossible to use a pc without having a browser always running, and if you are even a little like me, you need lots of open tabs to keep your productivity high. Unfortunately, some web pages need a lot of RAM to work properly.

Some browser extensions also take their toe on system resources, so be aware of that.

What you should do:

Close all the tabs you don't really need, especially social networking tabs like facebook or youtube.

If you like to have your email tab always open, consider deleting all emails you no longer need or move to an app that takes fewer resources to deal with your emails. If you also have your email account configured on your smartphone, you can open an email tab only when you get a new email notification.

Disable or uninstall browser extensions if you don't really need them.

#12. Restart your pc from time to time.

This is the most obvious tip but if your pc goes into suspended or hibernated modes a lot, for example, when you close your laptop lid or leave your pc on for a long time, it is slowing down day after day.

The reason restarting seems to solve so many tech issues is that apps and resources can get hung for many reasons.

What you should do:

Just restart your pc. Restarting flushes out the system, cleans out the RAM and lets your pc have a fresh start.

What else can you do keep your pc from slowing down?

Replace your hard drive with an SSD drive.

If you haven't done that already, this is by far the most important thing you have to do. Your pc will start a lot faster, and you won't have to wait that long when opening or when working with resource-hog apps.

Keep in mind that when a hard drive fails, and it's not software related, if you forgot to do your backups, there's always a small chance you can recover your files. That ain't true for SSDs. Usually, when they fail, there's not much that you or any pro can do to help you there.

Don't forget to do your backups!

You can check these on Amazon. You can choose between an affordable one or go for a more premium SSD.

Consider a memory upgrade.

Most old pcs only have 4Gb of RAM. While that may have been barely enough 5 or 6 years ago, that's not the case today. If you like to have more than 4 or 5 browser tabs open at once, your pc will work much faster if you do a memory upgrade to 8Gb.

It’s easy enough to pop open your Settings app, head to the “About This PC” section, and see how much RAM you have.

Note that not all laptops allow you to upgrade your RAM and the only way to know for sure is to open yours. You should leave that to a pro because your pc or laptop will break if you install the wrong memory module.

Vacuum out the dust.

Have you noticed that your pc fans are making a lot more noise than before?

Over time, dust buildup inside your computer could undermine its cooling efficiency, resulting in shorter life spans for your computer's components.

Keeping your computer on the floor allows for dust, hair, skin cells, and carpet particles to get inside easier than if you have it on your desk.

Your pc may try to run slower to keep it from heating up and break, so my advice is to open it and vacuum out the dust every 6 to 12 months.

Even though laptops don't get as much dust as traditional pcs, you still have to clean them every once in a while.

Task manager.

This is where you can take a glimpse of your pc performance. If you only have 4Gb of RAM and you see an app requesting more than 0,5Gb of your PC's memory, you should really consider stopping using it.

While you're there, take a look at how much processor use percentage your apps are requesting. Anything above 10% should be considered a lot.

Also, check out the startup tab and disable every app or service you know you don't really need.

Buy a new pc.

That's an easy one, but if you prefer to spend money on your old pc, make sure it's worth it. If your pc is over 6 ou 7 years old then maybe it's time to buy a new one.

Also, refrain from buying the cheapest pc or laptop you can find. If you want something that doesn't resemble the slowness of your old pc, just go for a new one with an Intel I3 (or equivalent) processor and at least 8Gb of RAM.

That's it. I know it may seem a lot to take in but take one step at a time. You can go slow, even if your pc can't!

Please, don't leave with any unanswered questions because I may have an answer, and we'll probably be helping someone else too. Just leave them in a comment below or send me an email and I'll be glad to help.

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