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How to un-slow your laptop

We've all been here. You start up your laptop, wait a few minutes for it to boot up, then wait some more after logging in for it to be responsive. And then get mad with intense frustration when after a small eternity, you try to finally open that one app that you wanted to use and it still wont open. WHY? Isn't tech good enough yet? Even your phone opens faster than that! What garbage is this? Must be time to upgrade again right? Well maybe not. Let me explain what is happening here.

The most common reasons your computer is actually slow

If your computer is only a couple of years old, and has at the very least a dual core processor that clocks about 2.2 gigahertz or higher, the chances are in most cases it'll be just fine for everyday use. Most people blame the processor for sluggishness, but unless you're running some heavy programs that just isn't true. The real issue lies with your hard drive. Yep, usually the most ignored feature of your laptop except for it's storage capacity is the hard drive. Traditionally, laptop manufactures install cheap, slower hard drives into laptops to lessen the cost. Those usually have rotation speeds of 5400 RPMS. It may sound fast enough, but it's really dog slow. Standard Desktop Hard Drives usually have a rotation speed of 7200 RPMS. Which is much better, however still too slow for most people that build PC's on their own.

The real answer to a speedy PC is to install an SSD.

SSDs are insanely fast in comparison. Simply replacing a slow Hard Drive with an SSD will make the world of difference with your PC and cost less than buying a new Laptop, that chances are, also has a slow Hard Drive. This isn't without a little headache though. And makes for a bit of a project. Most Laptops only have one slot for storage. So you'll have to backup your files to an external source first, then reinstall windows on your new SSD. So it may not be a quick fix. But it also isn't hard to do. And of course totally worth it with how fast it'll be in the end. I won't go into the step-by-step process in this article, but It can be easily found on YouTube.

So what make a SSD so different? A traditional Hard Drive is a bit of old tech. All information is stored on a spinning disk that rotates and is read by a laser. SSDs use flash memory and have no moving parts. This is how phones also store memory and explains why they can be so much faster. So, Ideally you would replace all storage hardware with SSD, but it's a bit pricey. So to counter that, if your laptop or desktop has enough slots for it you can use both SSD and HDD (Hard Drive Disc) together. Use the SSD to store all of windows (this will make it your boot drive) and any frequently used programs. Then store all your documents on you HDD. That way you don't have to spend as much on a massive SSD. Cool. Good news is that every year the price of solid state drives drop a bit. making it more and more of a tangible option. However, If you do only have one slot for storage, you'll have to for just an SSD. I recommend at least a 500 GB drive.

Can't install an SSD yet? Try this.

Yeah maybe the thought of taking apart your laptop is intimidating. It's ok, there are a few more things to learn about what makes a laptop slow that may help a bit. After all, when you first got your laptop it wasn't that slow right? It was over time that things got bad. Here are a few reasons why it probably got slower over time.

  • Bad anti-virus software. If you're running Windows 10 and don't work for the CIA, then you really don't need anti-virus software anymore. Windows 10 come with it's own and it's pretty good. Most anti-virus these days are old or just plain snake oil. On top of that it slows down your PC a good bit. So keep Windows security up to date and it'll do it's job just fine.

  • Turn your laptop on often. Windows has a lot of regular updates. Not to mention all the programs you've installed over time. A lot of programs check for updates as soon as a computer turns on and connects to the internet by default. To help speed up the usability of your laptop at start you should disable some of the less important auto starting programs. By turning your laptop on often and letting it run for a while it'll let it work out those tasks in advance and give it less to do the next time you turn it on.

  • Clean up your disc space. If your HDD is crammed with all kinds of stuff it'll slow things down for sure. Imagine a warehouse that's stocked to the brim with junk. How easy will it be to move that stuff around on the inside. Having worked in a warehouse just like that let me tell you it isn't easy. Get rid of unused programs or files. Especially in the downloads folder.

  • RAM. We haven't talked about RAM yet, but sometimes this is an issue. If your laptop has less than 8 gigs of ram, and you do a lot of multi tasking, it may be time to upgrade. But if you keep it light you can get away with 4 gigs and up for now. Ram is one of these easiest things to upgrade in a laptop. Just check to see which type is compatible with your PC before you buy any.

How to diagnose your laptop's problem

It's pretty easy to get an idea where the problem lies with your slow PC. First thing you need to do when your laptop boots up is to open task manager (Ctrl + Alt + delete) then check the processes just like in the image below.

See how Disk is at 100%? That can happen with any HDD or even SSD when it's updating or installing new software. The problem is when this happens for the first 30 minutes of starting your computer. That's because of a slow hard drive.

If memory is at 100% and you aren't running heavy programs or games then you REALLY need more RAM. In all honesty if it ever reaches 100% you need more RAM to work with.

If the CPU is at 100% and you aren't gaming or stress testing it then you need to check for viruses or shut down a few programs. If it typically runs high in it's percentage under normal work loads you may need to think about getting a more powerful laptop... sorry. The sad fact is you simply cannot upgrade a CPU on a laptop since they solder them to the motherboard.

In most cases though you may not need to go out and buy a whole new system. Follow some of the tips in this article and I bet your laptop will run a whole lot better! (especially if you go the SSD route)

Thanks for reading! If I left something out, or you have a question, let me know in the comments below!

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