It was a special day when you bought your new laptop, excitedly opened it, and marveled at how fast it was able to carry out even the heaviest of tasks. Now, whether it’s been years or months since then, your laptop no longer works as fast, and it may seem as if all of its good days are behind you. While it’s only natural for a laptops speed to wane after some time, there are some things you can do to restore your laptops speed, to bearable levels, if not back to how it was when you first used it.

There may be a number of reasons, not related to old age, so to speak, that your laptop’s speed has slowed down. From having too many unused applications installed, to a lack of RAM, a laptop’s speed depends largely on how we’ve treated the hardware and software. You have a few options to provide your laptop with rapid speed boosts, or to take a deep dive and recondition its overall performance using methods which may be more time consuming. To get started, follow the instructions below,

Limit Startup Programs

You’ll notice when you turn on your laptop, there are a few programs that will begin running automatically. These programs operate in the background, drain CPU usage, and result in slow startup times, thereby, affecting the overall speed of your laptop. In order to limit the number of startup programs that appear when you turn on your laptop, follow the steps below,

1. On your Windows laptop, open Task Manager.

2. Click on the Startup tab. You will now see a list of programs listed in order of startup impact.

3. Feel free to disable programs which you deem unnecessary.

For Macs,

1. Click on the Apple logo on the upper left corner, scroll down and click System Preferences.

2. Click Users & Groups.

3. Click Login Items on the top right of the window.

4. Feel free to disable programs which you deem unnecessary.

Uninstall Unused Applications

Over the course of years or even months, we tend to download many applications, that in the long term, aren’t used. This takes up memory on your hard drive and reduces the efficiency of your laptop. It’s best to uninstall these applications. This is especially helpful if you’re deleting large files, games, or movies. To get started uninstalling unused applications, follow the instructions below,

1. On your Windows laptop, open Control Panel.

2. Select Uninstall on any programs you no longer use.

For Mac,

1. Move programs you no longer use into the Trash.

2. Launch Trash, and click Empty Trash in order to permanently remove the programs.

Use Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup is a program (on Windows) that will automatically remove unnecessary files and programs from your computer.

1. Simply type Disk Cleanup in your search bar to open the program and get started erasing anything that is taking up space on your computer.

For Macs,

1. Click the Apple logo in the upper left corner of your screen, and in the drop-down menu click About This Mac.

2. Click Storage.

3. Click Manage.

4. You’ll see options such as Empty Trash Automatically, Optimize Storage, Reduce Clutter, and Store in iCloud. Select the options which are most feasible to you.

Update Your OS

Windows and macOS will remind you to update your computers software. You may have become so accustomed to putting this off to a later date, that you forgot updating your software can in fact solve many problems, and improve efficiency. In order to update your software on Windows follow the steps below,

1. Click Start and then click Settings.

2. Click Updates & Security.

3. Click Windows Updates.

You should now be able to see if there are any updates you missed.

For Macs,

1. Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner, and then click System Preferences.

2. Click Software Update to see if there are any updates you can install.

Upgrade RAM

RAM stands for random access memory. This memory is used to allow processor-heavy tasks to be carried out, such as playing games and storing large files. By adding RAM to your laptop, you would be creating more memory, and therefore be increasing efficiency as your laptop won’t have to worry about lack of storage. Please note, however that in order to carry out this task, your laptop can’t have RAM that is coupled with its motherboard.

If this is the case, your amount of RAM can’t be adjusted. If you’re a Windows user, upgrading RAM will likely be easier for you than it is for a Mac user. Most Mac users may need to visit the Apple Genius Bar in order to install more RAM. However, if you’re a Mac user, one thing you can easily do by yourself is use the EveryMac and New Egg website in order to determine what kind of RAM you need and how much more you should install on your laptop.

Add SSD

SSD stands for solid-state drive. Don’t confuse this with your hard drive, as an SSD instead, stores data in memory chips, without using mechanical components. In order to add an SSD you’ll have to install it. It’s best to ask a professional to carry out this task, if you don’t have experience in computer hardware. Adding an SSD will instantly increase efficiency on your laptop, for a small price of about 70$, on average.

Reinstall your OS

Contrary to popular belief, you can reinstall your operating system without losing any of the files on your computer. Windows easily offers this option from its Settings window. To get started reinstalling your OS, follow the instructions below,

1. Open the Settings window.

2. Select the Update and Security tab.

3. Select Recovery.

For Macs,

1. Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner, and click Restart.

2. Hold down command + R.

3. The macOS Recovery window should open. From this window, reinstall your OS, without deleting any of your files.

Ensure Your Laptop is Safe From Malware

If you’ve downloaded music and movies from sketchy websites, your laptop may be infected by viruses. This can also happen by clicking certain e-mail links, online advertisements, or downloading harmful software. Always be careful before carrying out such actions. Malware is a main culprit when it comes to slow computers. In order to make sure your laptop is secured from malware, install antivirus software. While there are free options, your best bet is McAfee or Bitdefender, as these two are top of the line products, well known to the public.

If you’re concerned that your laptop has already become infested with viruses, use Zemana AntiMalware as a scanner. Once you’ve confirmed that malware exists on your laptop, use Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit to remove the viruses. Both these products have shown satisfactory results when it comes to boosting computer speed.

If you’re a Mac user and you want some extra network security, you can also enable Stealth Mode, which is available with Mac OS X. Using Stealth Mode your Mac won’t respond to any anonymous ping requests and won’t answer any connection attempts from closed TCP and UDP networks. It will be as if your Mac doesn’t exist to those requests. In order to enable Stealth Mode, follow the instructions below,

1. Click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of your screen.

2. Click on System Preferences.

3. Click on Security & Privacy.

4. Click Firewall Options.

5. Ensure that the Stealth Mode option on the bottom is checked. This will enable Stealth Mode on your Mac.

Keep Your System Cool and Clean

An overlooked method to keep your laptop running at top speeds, is to keep it cool and clean. Laptops tend to slow down if they get too hot. You may also notice a loud noise coming from within your laptop when it gets too hot. This is the noise your fans are making.

To prevent your laptop from overheating, as often as possible, try to work in a cool area. Avoid using your laptop on blankets or other material that may warm up. Work on tables, stands, and cool, dry places. If you tend to carry out many processor-heavy tasks, it’s best that you look into purchasing a cooling pad. This will keep the air circulating near your laptop.

Aside from adjusting your physical surroundings, you can also install software that will increase the speed of your CPU’s fans, in order to get them working faster. If you’re a Windows user, install SpeedFan, and if you’re a Mac user, install SMC Fan Control.

You should also clean your system every other week, or so. You’ll notice on the side of your laptop, there is plenty of room for debris, dirt and other unwanted junk that can slip through the cracks of your machine, and clog the air vents. In order to properly clean your laptop, first turn is completely off. Then use canned compressed air or a vacuum to clean out anything that may be obstructing your CPU fans. As often as possible, you should also try to clean your mouse, trackpad, and keyboard using soft cloths or baby wipes. However, be sure your laptop doesn’t get wet, as this may compromise its internal system.

While carrying out any or all of the methods above, are beneficial to your laptop, it’s important to note that nothing is better than preventative care. Taking continuous care of your laptop will prevent you from needing to carry out long-winding processes to improve speed. Try to delete unnecessary files whenever you can, this includes applications. Empty your Trash/Recycle Bin often.

Don’t always leave your laptop on Sleep mode if you know you won’t be using it again for a long time, and shut it down instead. Avoid downloading music and movies from websites that lack credibility, as this may infect your laptop with viruses, and put your private information at risk. All in all, treat your laptop as if it were a car, requiring maintenance every so often.