blogs / writers tips

16 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. 11 Ways to Update Your Online Presence
  2. 16 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer
  3. Backup and Image your computer

For regular readers of WordDreams, these are yearly reminders which I update each December as needed. For new readers, these are like body armor in the tech battle. They allow you to jubilantly overcome rather than dramatically succumb.

Today: 17 Ways to Speed up Your Computer

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”)
    • peruse the list and delete programs you downloaded by mistake, meant to use, or no longer use
    • uninstall
    • don’t look back
  4. Update any programs that need it (some auto-update, like MS Office and subscription apps). 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.
  5. Clean the junk off your (virtual) desktop. Put it in folders or create one 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).
  6. Clean up your Start Menu. Remove shortcuts you no longer use (usually with a right click>delete). Add those that have become daily go-to sites
  7. Clean out your subscriptions. To websites and blogs. 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. If you simply don’t want as many emails, change the Google setting to weekly.
  8. Change your browser. I have three on my computer and regularly use one or the other, depending upon which works better for a particular website.
  9. 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. This isn’t as big an issue as it used to be because so much is now down remotely, in the cloud. That doesn’t require as much of your RAM.
  10. Clean out your temp files and empty your recycle bin. It gives you more storage space beside a faster boot-up.
  11. Delete unneeded fonts. When you start up your computer, it 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.
  12. 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).
  13. 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.
  14. A great tip from a reader: “A good starting point is to force the computer 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.”
  15. From Andrew over at Andrew’s View of the Week: Also check the age of any physical computers/devices you own – desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, etc. The average life expectancy for a device with a hard-drive is about 5 years. And given the rate of change in the device area, devices over 5 years are close to the end of their life. Consider replacing or budgeting for new equipment – you don’t want “unplanned failure”. Yes, plan your computer failures. If you have data on USB drives, check them and back up the contents to a cloud-based storage system. and if you use a UPS (uninterruptible power supply), check the battery age and order a replacement if needed.
  16. From GP Cox over at Pacific Paratrooper: A quick way I do sometimes is click on Ctrl and H and delete my history, after that is done it will allow you to clean off your cookies. I usually have to re-sign in to my email and a couple of other ‘saved sites’, but it’s usually worth it.

Finished? Have some eggnog. Any suggestions I missed?

Here’s the sign-up link if the image above doesn’t work:

https://forms.aweber.com/form/87/838503387.htm.


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Man vs. Nature saga, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the acclaimed Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. 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, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022

60 thoughts on “16 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer

  1. Thanks for the mention! Just a month ago I replaced my wife’s computer – the whole thing with the latest model using a SSD. Her old computer was taking forever to startup and load programs. Part of the problem is that as software evolves and do more things, the older hardware just can’t keep up. I know it feels expensive, but at five years, start looking for a new one.

    and when you do buy a new computer – get all the RAM you can afford and SSD – faster and more reliable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A couple more: 1) re-evaluate your backup method, change it if needed, and test it. I use Dropbox for my working files so they’re backed up to the cloud automatically, and I manually back up my writing files to a different cloud storage tool periodically. Several good cloud storage options exist. Pick one and use it. With a reliable cloud storage option, you can risk running hard drives till they die, because recovery is quick and complete. I’ve had drives last over 8 years and run just fine. 2) run any maintenance processes your operating system offers. Windows offers tools to clear out temp files and defrag your hard drive. Both will improve performance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate your insight on fonts. I’ve got way too many and use only a few. If I need to see them or get more, they are available in Canva or I can Google to download. Thanks, Jacqui!

    Liked by 1 person

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