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End of Year Tech for Writers: 19 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer

This week, I’ll post my updated suggestions for three holiday activities that will get your computers and technology 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

For regular readers of WordDreams, these are yearly reminders. For my new readers, these are like body armor in the tech battle. They allow you to jubilantly overcome or dramatically succumb. Your choice.

Today: 19 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). My cyber-smart daughter (she better be; it’s her job) reminds me most of these updates relate to security. With all the hacking going on these days, security sounds good.
  8. Clean the junk off your (virtual) 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 may vary depending upon your platform).
  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 you know you aren’t interested in 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 writing. 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 minuscule 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 a 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 Born in a Treacherous Timefirst in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, Spring 2019, first in the Crossroads Trilogy. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

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35 thoughts on “End of Year Tech for Writers: 19 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer

  1. We just purchased a laptop last week because our 2 are 5 and 8 years old. Andrew’s comment about getting a new one if 5-10 years old assured me we did the right thing! Looks like you’ll be in the market soon too. It has the solid state drive and wow, it really does take off right away! Yes, so many new things/improvements. But no CD drive. Guess I’m old-fashioned. We bought a CD drive for $12. to load up the programs. Thanks for this info. I’ll be emptying the recycle bin! Thanks for the reminder.
    JQ Rose

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mine has a CD/DVD drive but it hasn’t worked for years–and I don’t miss it. My Surface Pro laptop has nothing. Of course, I can’t load Photoshop there then. We will see.

      What kind of laptop?

      Like

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