If there’s one question we get asked a lot, it’s “How Can I Speed Up My Laptop”. What’s most alarming is that quite often the laptops in question are only a couple of years old and the owners are already contemplating binning them and buying a completely new machine.
To add context, you should expect to get at least five years usage out of any laptop and longer if you purchased a high specification machine. In the paragraphs below we have detailed some of the steps you can take to speed up your laptop.
Step One – Fit An SSD Drive »
For this reason, you’ll probably find that your existing laptop has a high capacity drive which provides lots of storage space but to keep costs down it’s a slow 5400RPM model that takes an age to actually access data and pass it on for processing.
In fact, in most cases the standard hard drive is the systems biggest bottleneck and significantly restricts the performance of the entire system.
This can be corrected by fitting a faster 7200RPM hard drive but for the ultimate speed boost we’d advise fitting an SSD Drive. SSD drives have no moving parts so there’s no noisy spinning disks chugging away inside your Laptop, the result is massively improved load times and system responsiveness.
If your laptop is more than a couple of years old you won’t strictly need one of the very latest models so a cheaper model like the OCZ Agility 3 60GB SSD will be fine. It’s also worth noting that SATA III drives are backwards compatible with older SATA II ports and will work in older laptops.
The only real disadvantage to SSD’s is their comparatively high price compared to traditional hard drives. You’ll most likely be forced to sacrifice capacity for speed but if all you tend to do is browse the web and perform basic office tasks you’re better off with a faster, smaller SSD than a larger, slower traditional hard drive.
Step Two – Upgrade Your Ram »
Details – Upgrading the amount of ram in your system is the single cheapest thing you can do to improve its speed . More ram means more cached data which in turns reduces the time your system has to wait for data to be loaded from your hard drive.
This is particularly important if you have less than 2GB of ram and are running a memory hungry operating system like Vista or one of the newer 64 bit operating systems.
This is easily corrected by adding more ram which is relatively easy to do. 4GB sticks of ram are now very cheap and can be purchased here for as little as £15. Prior to ordering you’ll need to check which type of ram your laptop needs, this can be done by either looking in the original handbook or by visiting the manufacturers website.
Step Three – Perform A Clean Install »
Details – Over time operating systems get clogged up with lots of old files, programs, registry entries and all sorts of other bits and pieces that gradually begin to degrade its performance. If your laptop used to feel a lot faster than it does now chances are it’s clogged up and will benefit from a clean install.
If you’re running on Windows back up all your old data before reformatting your drive and then reinstalling your operating system. You’ll need to make sure you run Windows Update and we’d also advise installing a lightweight anti-virus program like Windows Security Essentials which is free. A lot of the mainstream virus killers are very resource heavy. Sure, they protect you from viruses but they also slow your system down in the process.
It’s also important to make sure your laptop isn’t running a whole host of unnecessary programs that have been pre-installed by the manufacturer. Aim to keep your install as clean and simple as possible and only install what you need.
Optional – Give Ubuntu A Try »
Details – Ubuntu is a completely free, open source operating system that runs on the very stable Linux Kernal. Not only does it look great but it’s also very light which results in a fast, enjoyable user experience.
In fact, it’s so light you can run it off a USB stick which means that you don’t even need to install it on your laptops hard drive to give it a try. If you decide that you like Ubuntu, you can then install it alongside a Windows operating system and select which of the two operating systems you would like to load when you fire up your Laptop.
One other benefit of using Ubuntu is that thanks largely to Ubuntu’s Linux based foundations you won’t have to worry about viruses, malware and other malicious nasties that plague mainstream operating systems.
You can also install Google Chrome and Firefox for a familiar web browsing experience and the latest version of Ubuntu comes pre-loaded with Libra Office, a Microsoft Office alternative.
I personally tend to use Ubuntu for all of my day to day web based tasks and then switch to Windows as and when I need to.