Our go-to techy (amongst many other things) woman at Clickinmoms is hands-down Sarah Wilkerson. Seriously. That woman can get you an answer on most things in about 3.5 seconds flat. This is the first in a series of tutorials she has written on speeding up your computer, speeding up Photoshop and speeding up Lightroom. This makes a really big difference in your computer’s performance so that it doesn’t get bogged when running those memory-hogging programs. First up is speeding up your computer – look for the others in the future right here!
Speed Up Your Computer
#1: Restart your Computer
This should be obvious, but … has your computer been on for a few days/weeks (I’m guilty of this)? Restart. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
#2: Don’t Run Too Many Programs at Once
In addition to the programs that you opened yourself, there are numerous programs and processes running in the background. For optimum performance, limit the number of programs that you run simultaneously (especially if they are memory intensive, like running Firefox + Photoshop + Lightroom + a video player + a graphics-heavy computer game), then trim the fat when it comes to startup programs (read on for more on that!).
#3: Keep your OS up-to-date.
Operating system updates improve system security and performance.
#4: Regularly check to make sure your hardware drivers are up-to- date.
In particular, pay attention to the following (which are commonly responsible for system problems when their drivers are out of date):
1) Graphics Card Driver
2) Sound Card Driver
#5: Maintain open space on your hard drive.
Keep a minimum of 25% of the total space open on your primary hard drive (usually the C drive on a PC or the Macintosh HD on a Mac). Filling that drive up can cause problems with virtual memory and create program instability.
#6: If you don’t use it (or you can live without it), get rid of it.
Don’t bog down your computer with things that you don’t use or need – they consume valuable system resources. Specifically,
a) Uninstall programs that you don’t use.
b) Delete Temporary or Unnecessary Files. This goes back to making space on your hard drive, but even if you have adequate space on there, deleting extraneous files can only help the situation. Windows has a Disk Cleanup utility to help with the temporary files; the rest, you’ll have to do manually.
c) Turn off features you don’t use (e.g., Bluetooth, Universal Access, Speech Recognition, and Internet Sharing)
d) “Fun” and “pretty” are resource hogs. Widgets, wallpapers, screen savers, special effects, etc all reduce your computer’s processing capabilities.
e) Remove Programs from your Startup Menu. Programs that run in the background eat up system resources. Unless you’re actually using these programs every time you use your computer, remove them to improve system boot time and general performance.
#7: Clean up your Desktop.
Filling up your desktop with icons slows down your computer. Relocate the files in an organized manner and – only if necessary – create desktop shortcuts for them instead.
#8: Use Font Management Software
Having too many active fonts bogs down your system. Font management software allows you to deactivate the fonts you aren’t using to speed up the computer. I use (and recommend) Suitcase Fusion by Extensis.
#9: Scan your system for errors
a) Check your RAM
Windows: Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools > Windows Memory Diagnostics
Mac: System Profiler > Memory should display any memory errors
MemTest is a comprehensive test for both Windows and Mac
b) Run Error Checking Utility (Windows).
1) Right-click the hard disk drive that you want to check, and then click Properties.
2) Tools tab>Error-checking>Check Now.
3) Select “Automatically fix file system errors.”
4) Select “Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors.”
5) Click Start.
c) Repair Permissions (Mac)
1) Applications folder >Utilities >Disk Utility icon.
2) In the column on the left, click your startup disk.
3) First Aid tab > Repair Disk Permissions. Disk Utility will reset any files and folders with incorrect settings.
#10: Defragment your Hard Drive(s).
Disk fragmentation slows down overall system performance. Disk read and write time is significantly longer when the computer must search the hard disk to piece fragmented files back together.
Windows: Disk Defragmenter consolidates fragmented files and folders on your computer’s hard disk. It can take awhile, so run it overnight, and wake up to a peppier computer by morning.
Mac: Macs are designed to work with a certain degree of file fragmentation. Unless you regularly create and delete a large number of files, you may never need to run a disk defragmentation program to improve performance. Third party software is available in the event that you do feel compelled to defragment the files on your Mac.
#11: Scan your system for Malware
This is a biggie. Be careful about the sites you visit, files you download, programs you install, and emails you open …but if your computer suddenly seems to be more sluggish, there’s a good chance that a virus/spyware/adware is the culprit. Run a system scan with reputable software.
#12: … But choose (and run) your virus protection carefully.
Anti-virus programs consume a great deal of system resources. Make sure you choose your virus program carefully, pay attention to the resources it is consuming, and set it to scan before you go to bed at night, only while the computer is idle, or while you are doing non-resource-intensive work.
#13: Go Nuclear.
If none of the above is working, you may need to try the following options (in order of preference).
1) Reinstall your Operating System and Programs
2) Upgrade/Replace/Add Components such as RAM, Hard Drive(s), and Graphics Card
3) Purchase a new computer system
Thanks so much, Sarah!
Have a question about what you’ve read? Feel free to post a question in the comments and if we get enough questions I can do a Q&A post in the future with some answers.