How to speed up your old desktops or laptops in Windows

We typically see newer systems being purchased for a household or business because “it’s too slow” or “it doesn’t work”. Before going out hunting for the latest, greatest, and fastest piece of equipment, you really should ask yourself if you can get it working again. Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve cleaned up Windows desktops and laptops so that they run faster than when they were originally handed to me. Fortunately, Windows has some easy tweaks that you can make to get things running more efficiently. The tweaks below should mostly work with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 (I have not played around with 8/8.1/10 that much….yet):

  1. Appearance vs. Performance:
    • If your old system is going to be tossed out the window, I’m guessing that you don’t mind how it looks vs. how it performs
    • A quick tip to get Windows working faster (with a small decrease in visual appeal) would be to remove the fancy graphics and visualizations that Windows typically has setup by default
    • To do this: click ‘Start’ – right-click ‘Computer’ – click ‘Properties’ – click ‘Advanced’ tab – click ‘Settings’ (in ‘Performance’ section) – select ‘Adjust for best performance’ radio button
  2. Remove old software:
    • Just having extra software from 6 years ago, that you don’t use anymore, is completely pointless to keep on your computer. The only reason to keep this software is if it’s a dependency for a more current version of the software that you’re running (I’ve never seen software in the last 8 or so years that keeps the old version around for the current version to run properly)
    • Windows XP: click ‘Start’ – click ‘Control Panel’ – click ‘Add or Remove Programs’ and then select which programs to remove
    • Windows Vista/7: click ‘Start’ – click ‘Control Panel’ – click ‘Programs’ – click ‘Programs and Features’, and then select which programs you want to uninstall (so this is almost exactly like Windows XP, except for the small name change of ‘Add or Remove Programs’ to be ‘Programs and Features’)
  3. Clean up old data
    • So nowadays, we have 1TB drives and data in the cloud, but for our old hunks of junk, we might have some smaller drives, and large amounts of music or movies filling it up
    • Windows XP: click ‘Start’ – click ‘All Programs’ – click ‘Accessories’ – click ‘System Tools’ – click ‘Disk Cleanup’ . Disk Cleanup was really easy to find and use….or maybe it’s just the fact that I used XP for so very long
    • Windows Vista/7: click ‘Start’ – click ‘Computer’ – right-click your C: drive and click ‘Properties’ – click ‘Disk Cleanup’ in the window that opens
    • Overall, Disk Cleanup is a great tool to easily free up space on any drive (temp files, compresses files, empties your trash, etc)
    • Another method which I tend to use is the manual method. Yes, I simply scope out my various folders and decide what stays and what gets axed.

There are plenty of other methods to enhance upon your Windows operating system. I’ll be adding some more of these in a later post.

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