Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Jamie Durham
IT Correspondent
6:00 AM 11th June 2021

How To Help Stop Your Computer Running Slowly

One of the biggest pain-points for technology users is slow running speed. We’ve all been there – staring at a spinning loading icon and wishing for the programme or email to load quicker – and it can be painful.

But, while some tech problems need the experts on hand to help resolve them, there are others which you can remedy – and prevent – yourself.

Here, Jamie Durham, founder of IT support firm Systemwork, shares his top tips on how to speed up your sluggish machine and internet browser…

Have a clear out

Similar to when spring cleaning your house – after it gathers dust and clutter – computers can be much the same, with lots of outdated files ‘clogging up’ the system.

Therefore, try to put some time aside to go through the documents on your hard drive and delete the files you don’t want or need anymore. Removing these can not only greatly speed up your device, but it’ll also save you time when searching through folders and photos.

Don’t forget to empty the trash

While deleting any unwanted content is a super place to start to achieve a clean and tidy digital space, it’s crucial to ensure you also remember to clear out your recycle bin, to ensure your device is completely clutter free, and these files aren’t using up lots of memory.

Clear your browser cache

Even if it’s only done once every few months, head over to your internet browser’s ‘history’ settings and delete your browsing data. This gets rid of any temporary internet files from a time frame of your choice – the past hour, day, week, month, or since the beginning of time – and will help to accelerate the speed at which your computer operates.

Close any unused tabs

Another hack to quicken up the rate at which your browser loads is to close tabs – or at least limit the number of them you have open at any one time. Each little tab occupies memory on your device, so by shutting a few down, this can help to keep loading times smooth and frustration free.

Open ‘Task Manager’

On your laptop or computer, if you press ‘Ctrl + Alt + Del’, and click ‘Task Manager’, you’re able to see which programmes are consuming a lot of your device’s processing energy.

If you’re on Teams, for example, once you leave the app, this can still be running in the background without you knowing – using up unnecessary data. So, if you’re experience slow-loading times, have a look in here to see if there are any tasks you can ‘end’.

Restart your machine

A basic – but vitally important – step in the day-to-day running of your device. It’s all too tempting to simply close your laptop lid or turn off your desktop monitor, to save it having to start up the next time you want to use it. However, if you don’t restart on a regular basis, it can have a big impact on performance. This is because a ‘reboot’ enables machines to refresh memory and fully install any updates.

Take notice of updates

In relation to updates, it’s important that you keep on top of them – not only for performance reasons but security ones too.

You don’t have to be inconvenienced by these either, as you can set a time for their installation when you’re not using your machine.

Order your desktop icons

If you’re one of those people who has lots of desktop icons on the home screen, it might be time to have a tidy up.

Every time your computer is switched on, it has to load each one of these icons individually – which takes a lot of time. Therefore, it’s recommended that you combine these icons into folders, as your device then only has to load a handful of folders instead of hundreds of individual icons.

Invest in external storage

Images and videos notoriously have a large digital footprint, due to their generally large file sizes. And, if you have a large-scale media library on your device – using lots of memory – this can certainly go some way in slowing it down.

An external hard drive – which usually plugs in via a USB port – or cloud solution, is a great place to save pictures and videos you’re no longer bothered about having on your machine, but don’t want to get rid of.

Remove bloatware

Although this is happening less frequently, manufacturers still insist on loading software that isn’t required. Some of this can cause slow performance but it can also lead to security risks if it is unpatched.

If the program doesn’t have a Microsoft signature in the control panel, it can probably be removed – but check with an expert if unsure.

Check the number of security programs

Manufacturers try to entice you towards a particular security product by pre-installing it. If you’re unaware of this, you may end up installing a second one and have two running at once – which can cause severe performance issues. Therefore, you should remove the one that is not licensed.

Conduct a fresh install

Over time, PCs and laptops become slow and regardless of what you do to the existing install, things just don’t get better. Therefore, a fresh install is a good process to go through every so often. This will also remove any security threats that may be hiding out of sight of your security software. Make sure you backup first though, and if you are unsure, always ask for specialist advice.

Install all updates

Updates are critical for security patches, but they can also improve poorly designed software and drivers. Equally, a ‘bad update’ can cause performance problems too.

Knowing how to identify updates, when they are installed and how to remove them, is a valuable tool for keeping your machine running both well and securely.

These are just thirteen easy ways to help speed up your computer or laptop, which you can attempt at home. However, slow-loading issues can sometimes be attributed to a bigger problem with your overall operating system, but it’s worth trying some of the options above before calling in the IT experts.