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End-of-Year Maintenance: 22 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer

year-end computer maintenanceThis week, I’ll post three holiday activities that will get you ready for the blitz of writing you’ll swear to accomplish in New Year resolutions. Here’s what you’ll get (the links won’t be active until the post goes live):

  1. Update Your Online Presence
  2. Speed Up Your Computer
  3. Backup and Image your computer

Today: 24 Ways to Speed up Your Computer

There are two ‘speed’ problems that arise when using computers:

  • the computer itself is slow, for lots of reasons
  • you are slow–meaning: You have too much to do. We’ll deal with this later…

I post this every year and have included several great suggestions from readers. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make sure your firewall is working. Windows comes with a built-in one. Maybe Mac does too. Leave it active. Sometimes, they seem to turn off by themselves (I have no idea why). Check to be sure it is active. This will keep viruses and malware out that slow your computer.
  2. Keep your antivirus software active. If you’re paranoid like me, run an antivirus scan weekly to be sure nothing is missed.
  3. Sort through Documents and get rid of those you don’t need anymore. It’s intimidating, like a file cabinet that hasn’t been opened in years and is covered with dust, even spider webs. Do it, though. If you don’t, every time you search, the computer must finger through those unused and worthless files. It doesn’t understand the difference between ‘unused’ and ‘important’. Plus, it distracts you from finding the documents you really want. If you don’t want to toss them, make an ‘Old’ file and put them all in there.
  4. Backup files to an external drive or cloud storage. If you don’t have an automated system, consider getting Carbonite or similar. If you use Windows, try their backup program. It’s easy to find: Click the Start Button and search ‘backup’.
  5. Empty the trash. Don’t even look in it. If you haven’t missed a file by now, it won’t matter if you throw it out.
  6. Learn to use that program you’ve been promising you would or delete it.
  7. Go through your programs and delete the ones you no longer use–or never used (like the ones that come pre-installed on a new computer). Here’s what you do:
    • go to Control Panel>Programs and Features
    • peruse the list and pick the programs you downloaded by mistake, meaning to use, or used to use and no longer do
    • uninstallspeed up your computer
    • don’t look back
  8. Update any software that needs it. I don’t mean BUY a newer version. I mean click the free update that’s been nagging at you (Adobe Reader and Windows, for example). Often, these updates protect you from unwelcome intrusion by viruses and spyware.
  9. Clean the junk off your desktop. Put it in folders or create a folder for ‘Working on’. Don’t know how to create a desktop folder? Just right click on the desktop and select ‘New>folder’
  10. Clean up your Start Button. Remove shortkeys you no longer use (with a right click>delete). Add those that have become daily go-to sites
  11. Clean out your subscriptions. This slows YOU down as you sit to work. They usually arrive via email. Dragging through dozens of emails a day when you know you aren’t interested in a lot of them slows you down. Me, I have over 200 every day. I regularly purge blog and newsletter subscriptions that didn’t work out as planned.
  12. Make notifications weekly instead of daily. If you get Google alerts, set them for weekly (unless you really must know when someone posts on the term ‘Labrador puppies’). If you have social media, let them notify you of activity once a week instead of daily. If you get reports on Twitter usage or Google Adwords, schedule those weekly.
  13. Change your browser to Chrome. When I did, it doubled my surfing speed. And it’s not just me. Among those-who-know, it’s considered the fastest browser (and IE the slowest).
  14. Slim down your start-up process.  Only have the programs you really need start when you boot (or reboot). Skip the rest. How? Click Start, type msconfig in the search bar and press Enter. In the System Configuration window, click the Startup tab. From the list of programs that appears, untick the box next to those you don’t need to launch automatically at startup. Only deselect programs that you don’t use regularly or know that you don’t need.
  15. Add more RAM. That’s the stuff that lets you keep more stuff open on the desktop (including tabs in your browser). If you don’t have enough, it’s like having a postage-stamp-size desk for planning your lesson plans. Upgrade yours to the max your system will take.
  16. Clean out your temp files.
  17. Empty your recycle bin. When your computer starts up, it must bring all that trash to life in case you want to revisit it. The less that’s in there, the less you have to rejuvenate.
  18. Delete unneeded fonts. Like the recycle bin, when you start up, your computer must bring all those fonts out so you can use them. They’re small files, but not miniscule and take measurable time to activate. Who needs a thousand fonts? Settle for a hundred.
  19. This one’s a bit geeky: Install an SSD start-up drive. An SSD drive is one of those super-fast, expensive hard-drives. Get one just large enough to boot up your computer. You won’t store files on it or data–just use it to start your computer in about a third of the time it normally would. I did this to my desktop and no longer have time for a cuppa or a shower while the computer starts up. A warning: A lot of saving defaults to the start-up drive so reset where your auto-saves go (like temp files, images, and similar).
  20. Clean your computer. With a mini vacuum. Get all that grunge and dust out so it doesn’t get into the computer parts that will not only slow you down but stop you in your virtual tracks.
  21. Unsubscribe to stuff you no longer read. You know–the emails that come in and are deleted without a glance. Get rid of them. If they don’t have an ‘unsubscribe’ (which by law, they should), label them ‘junk’.
  22. From Andrew over at Andrew’s View of the Week: Consider the age of your current computer. Typically the expected useful life of a computer is no more that 5-6 years. In the high-tech business, we replace them every 3-4 years. If your system is approaching 5 years, consider budgeting for a new one next year. In addition to being at increased risk of hardware failure, you’ll find the new systems to be faster, cheaper and filled with tons of new features.

For more end-of-year clean up ideas, check Microsoft Windows page, How to Geek, and WikiHow.

Finished? Take a break. Have some eggnog.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for Summer, 2017.

51 thoughts on “End-of-Year Maintenance: 22 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer

  1. Although it sounds grueling, these are great tips Jacqui. I hope to tackle some of them in the new year. And yes, there’s nothing like and SSD. My newer laptop is a Windows surface installed with it. Starts up in seconds! Love this baby! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Believe it or not your series here has started me looking at my blog and computer…going to try and tweak the former later today and I also looked at my computer. So many documents I’ve just dumped on the desktop in recent months as it was quicker…better tidy up. A lot I could nod yes to luckily. Mac does have a firewall built in, you just have to switch it in. There is also a fire vault. Do you know what that does? So far I haven’t switched that on. Great article, Jacqui which is kicking me into action tech wise!😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, I was reading along your great list, saying to myself, “Yep. Did that. Still gotta do that….and then….I came upon the suggestion to delete excess fonts and howled…NOOOOOOOOoooooo, not my fonts.
    Yes, yes, logically I know you’re right, but they’re kind of like shoes, you just never know when you’re going to need a certain color, or style, or..or…mood? Occasionally, I even use a wingding.
    It’s going to take some time for me to adapt to the idea of deleting fonts and like Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll think about THAT tomorrow.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • A good starting point is to force it to do less tasks during the start-up. Just like it would slow you down if before you started writing, you had to get your coffee, check your email, chat with efriends, water the plants–oh, and finally start writing. The less your computer has to do–find fonts, open programs, that sort–the faster it gets to work.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh thank you. I fixed that.

      Add RAM: It’s a card that’s installed on the motherboard inside the computer. Your computer will take a certain number of those cards. When you open it, you’ll see if there is space for more and if you can add larger ones than are there. Not difficult at all to do (though I don’t do it myself) and not too expensive.


  4. Lots of great ideas about how to be able to do what we do, only better. Fresh ink in the pen and a new pad of paper. I realized I’ve been saving documents from the last ice age – need to let them melt away into the “delete ether.” Thanks, Jacqui.

    Liked by 1 person

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