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How to make your laptop run faster
Have you been frustrated with how slow your laptop is running? If so, fret not. A few tips can help your laptop run faster, no matter how old or new it may be. You should try these steps out before you go out and purchase a new laptop. Here’s how to make your laptop run faster with software and hardware changes.
You have a few solutions to make your laptop run faster. First, you should try cleaning up the OS by uninstalling apps you no longer need. Next, you can try swapping out the hard disk for an SSD or installing an SSD in the CD/DVD drive bay and using it as the primary location for your OS installation. You can also try adding more RAM to your laptop.
If none of these help makes your laptop run faster, you can install an alternate operating system based on Linux to get some more usable life out of your old laptop.
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Why is my laptop so slow?
Much like other hardware, laptops can feel slow over time. That is primarily because software applications and our needs evolve over months and years of use while our hardware remains the same. For example, photo and video editing were not part of workflows many years ago but are now commonplace for many jobs. Even software like Excel and other productivity apps have incorporated newer features that require more processing power. Use cases such as AI have also emerged, which were not very popular in the past.
If you have been using your laptop for a long time, you may have also accumulated a lot of software that you once installed but no longer use as frequently. This software could still run in the background whenever you power up your laptop. Add a bunch of these forgotten software together, which will lead to high background usage, leaving insufficient room for your foreground tasks. This can result in your laptop feeling slower than its capabilities.
Further, some laptop hardware can deteriorate slightly with daily use, which can add up over the years. Hard drives have always been prone to failure with use, and there’s a chance that your hard drive could be on its final days.
Combining all of these reasons together, you can end up in situations where your laptop feels very slow and unusable. Booting the laptop could take several minutes, and you’d further need some more minutes before you can open any app and begin working. You may notice frequent lags, and in worse-case situations, your computer could be performing erratically and even closing down apps and possibly rebooting itself.
You may be tempted to go out and buy a new laptop, but we recommend trying out some or all of these solutions first, as the issue has the potential to be fixed.
How to make your laptop run faster
So what can you do to help your laptop run faster? There are a few solutions that you can try out:
- Clean up your operating system.
- Swap out your hard disk for an SSD.
- Add more and better RAM.
- Change your operating system.
Clean up your laptop’s operating system
Before you go out and spend money on any parts, the first step that you should try out is to clean up your operating system. This advice is even more applicable to laptops under three years old. There is a possibility that a rogue software application is running in the background and making things go berserk. This application could be a virus too, and even worse, it could be the antivirus app trying to find a virus.
Uninstall apps that you no longer use
First things first, you need to uninstall apps you no longer use on your laptop. Proceed cautiously, though, as you do not want to uninstall critical applications. Only uninstall apps that you recognize that you no longer need. For apps you do not recognize, please run a Google Search first to ascertain their utility and functions.
- On Windows XP: Go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs.
- On Windows 7: Go to Start > Control Panel > Uninstall a program.
- On Windows 10 and Windows 11: Go to the search box in your bottom taskbar, and search for “Control Panel.” Once Control Panel is open, click on Programs > Programs and Features.
This should hopefully reduce the instances where stray apps would run themselves in the background and occupy your limited resources.
Disable apps that start at startup
You may have apps you regularly use but don’t need them to start at boot and remain running in the background. In such instances, disabling startup programs is a good idea, which should help improve how quickly your laptop boots and becomes ready to use.
Reset or reinstall your operating system
Suppose this doesn’t fix your issues and makes your laptop run faster. In that case, the next recommended step is to reset your operating system or, even better, reinstall it (but make a backup of your important data before you do either).
There is a small chance that there may be other rogue apps that you cannot identify, some settings that you may have accidentally changed, or even possibly have a virus infection on your laptop. A reset for the operating system gives you a blank slate, eliminating the possibility of a lousy software configuration slowing down your laptop.
If your computer still behaves sluggishly after a reset or reinstall, it’s time to spend some money and upgrade its hardware.
Swap out your hard disk for an SSD on your laptop
One of the best upgrades on an old laptop is swapping out the mechanical hard disk for an SSD. Hard disks used in older laptops are slow and have moving parts prone to deterioration and failure. SSDs are significantly faster, have no moving parts, and have a much lower failure rate.
Replacing the HDD with SSD
First, you need to identify the hard drive in your laptop so that you can buy a replacement SSD. Most laptops have 2.5-inch SATA hard drives, so you would need a compatible SATA SSD. We recommend this 2.5-inch 480GB SSD from Crucial that should be sufficient for the average user’s needs.
If possible, you can clone this SSD. If not, you can install Windows as a fresh installation on it. Either way, back up the data on the hard disk.
Next, you will need to open up your laptop for this upgrade. HDDs are usually placed on the bottom chassis of your laptop (behind the keyboard). So flip your laptop over, and follow your manufacturer’s instructions for disassembly. This would usually involve removing the battery (if removable) and then removing the bottom panel of your laptop. You would be able to locate the hard drive and swap in the SSD in its place.
If you haven’t cloned the SSD, you will need to install your operating system on the SSD. Once Windows is installed and your drivers are in place, you should see a marked improvement in the speed of your laptop. Your computer should boot quicker, apps should open faster, and so on.
Alternative: Add in SSD by replacing the CD/DVD drive bay
If swapping the hard drive with the SSD is not possible for you, or you want to retain the hard drive in your computer, you can install a SATA SSD in your laptop’s CD/DVD drive bay. You will not be able to use CDs/DVDs anymore, but you will see a marked improvement in everyday performance.
Remove the optical drive from your laptop, place the SSD in this optical drive caddy adapter, and install it in that slot. You can then clone your OS installation to the SSD and continue using the HDD for your data storage needs.
Add more RAM to your laptop
The next upgrade you do is add more RAM and faster RAM to your laptop. Here’s an explainer of how much RAM you need on your laptop, though note that your upgradability depends on the RAM slots on your laptop.
Most laptops have one or two RAM slots. If one RAM slot is used and the other is free, you can double the RAM in your laptop by adding another RAM stick of the same size. If both RAM slots are in use, we recommend upgrading both RAM sticks to the same capacity.
For example, if you have a 1x 8GB RAM stick installed and a 1x free slot available, you can add a new 8GB RAM stick. If you have 2x 4GB RAM sticks already installed, you can upgrade to 2x 8GB RAM sticks. Try to match the RAM on both slots to benefit from dual-channel memory.
Once again, this involves opening up the bottom panel of your laptop. Flip your laptop over, and follow your manufacturer’s instructions for disassembly. Locate the RAM slots, pull out the old RAM sticks, and install the new ones.
Once you have reassembled your laptop, confirm that the new RAM is active.
- Go to Start > Settings > About > Device specifications.
- Check the amount mentioned in Installed RAM.
A RAM upgrade is a relatively more straightforward installation. With more RAM available, your laptop’s performance should improve by a good margin, with more apps being able to remain active in the background.
Change your operating system
If your old laptop is running slow, one of the changes you can make is to use a different operating system. Windows is notorious for requiring a lot of hardware resources to run, leaving less room for your apps to run.
Instead of Windows, you can try multi-booting a flavor of Linux on your laptop. Linux distros like Ubuntu and Linux Mint require fewer resources, which can make the difference between an unusable laptop to one that can continue working for a few more years.
We hope these steps have helped you make your laptop run faster. These tips are best used on older laptops, and following some or all of them will help you add some more life to aging hardware. Let us know in the comments which step worked the best for you!
Yes, most slow laptops can be fixed to run faster. Simple upgrades to the RAM and SSD can breathe new life into the laptop.
Laptop hardware can deteriorate slightly over time and with use. Further, the pace of advancement of software can make your hardware feel sluggish, especially if you purchased a budget or mid-range machine that did not have much processing headroom available to accommodate these new software needs.