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End of Year Tech for Writers: 20 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer

online presence This 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 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. Even better, 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 (this is different on Windows 10–just search “Control Panel”)online presence
    • peruse the list and pick the programs you downloaded by mistake, meaning to use, or used to use and no longer do
    • uninstall
    • don’t look back
  7. 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 for example). Often, these updates protect you from unwelcome intrusion by viruses and spyware.
  8. 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’ (this is different on Windows 10)
  9. Clean up your Start Button or Menu. Remove shortcuts you no longer use (with a right click>delete). Add those that have become daily go-to sites
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Change your browser to Chrome. When I did, it took some getting used to but doubled my surfing speed. And it’s not just me. Among those-who-know, it’s considered the fastest browser (and IE the slowest).
  13. 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.
  14. Clean out your temp files.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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).
  18. 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.
  19. 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 than 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.
  20. From another reader: “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.”

For more end-of-year cleanup ideas, check the Microsoft Windows page and How to Geek.

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, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time. 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.


65 thoughts on “End of Year Tech for Writers: 20 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer

  1. bad news for you:
    #2 antivirus software is the main reason of performance problem in most cases =) try to turn off “active protection” option and all kinds of network data scan when you need higher speed – you will see the difference immediately with your own eyes.

    few more cleanup ideas for your bank:

    – !do it after you deleted local files, updated software etc!
    if your computer has mechanical (not solid state) hard disks
    drive defragmentation may help. run “defragment and optimize drives” program from start menu, you will be able to optimize disks if needed.

    – control panel/security and maintenance/Maintenance: turn off problem reporting. section take a look at problem reports. turn the feature off. you may try to check for solutions for the last time. then look at auotmatic maintenance settings, check if it is scheduled to run maintenance when you don’t use your computer.

    – if you have notebook, run control panel/power options applet. Set it up for max performance when its plugged with a power cord.

    Liked by 1 person

          • Looks like we started them and probably on the continent too – when sugar, spices, rum, chocolate etc became popular – but now it seems:

            “Eggnog is traditionally consumed throughout Canada and the United States at Christmas season every year, often from American Thanksgiving until the end of the Christmas season.”

            From Wiki – but quite interesting to read up … believe it or not … I had it for breakfast – maybe without the booze (well I didn’t get sozzled, so no booze added!) … my friends had it – so I had it … and put on a lot of weight!

            Not for me still .. but the kids drink it over the road – ie the farming son … but he’s a growing lad – so I will try it sometime – small amount – cheers! H

            Liked by 1 person

  2. There are some serious caveats to be considered in number 19: if you’re a Windows user, and still running Windows 7, getting a new machine will not make things faster for you, because Windows 10 is slipshod and inefficient. The machine itself would be faster, but between the countless strangely inexplicable Windows slowdowns and the eternal lost hours of “Why the heck won’t it let me do this incredibly basic task!?” a person will lose far more time than they could ever gain. (Believe me, I have to fight with a Windows 10 machine at work, and it makes my own Windows 7 machines look like paradises of speedy perfection. And one of them is about 8 years old!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for this Jacquie. I do most of those things. And I’ll vouch for SSD! When I got my Windows Surface Pro laptop it came with SSD (probably why it’s so expensive) What a difference! I turn on the computer and go to a page within 20 seconds! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Friday Roundup – 15th December | Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

  5. I recently tidied up my desktop as everything had been saved’s so satisfying with the clean tidy screen! At the moment I’m having concerns about my hard drive. It says occasionally itis full and hasn’t backed up since 2016, but when I check it it says last update today! It’s the one for Mac and should lose the last updates so space should always be available! Strange! Jacqui, it was interesting to read Andrew’s expert opinion on changing computers…that is often!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I was surprised too by Andrew’s suggestion. But, I confess, I do upgrade about that often. For me, it’s more about keeping up since it’s my field.

      As for the backing up, if you save everything to your desktop, then you can grab all of those files (by click-dragging a box around them) and then copy them to your backup location (flash drive, cloud–wherever that is). Then you’ve probably quickly backed up most of what you work on. Me, I save to file folders that are deeply nested, layers thick, so I have to do a more thorough and time-consuming back-up. Darn.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a great checklist and procrastinators need checklists … I find that (sometimes) when there is a major update to install it affects other programmes. Like for instance itunes doesn’t work or my PC won’t recognise some hardware. Any clues as to why this happens?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Reblogged this on and commented:
    What could be a better Christmas gift than a faster computer? I can think of little else! Well, unless someone wants to fork over 10 million dollars. Or pizza for life. Or five trips around the world.

    Liked by 3 people

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