Make pc faster: make your computer faster

Waste your time with lame computers instead of working productively? 6 simple tricks from the experts on how to speed up your PC today without much IT knowledge.

The start screen only opens at a snail’s pace, programs don’t run properly or websites take an incredibly long time to load when surfing the web: If this sounds familiar, you know the frustration when lame technology keeps you from concentrated, fast work. Frank Termer, head of software at the Bitkom digital association, explains what you can do to speed up your PC – without having to call an IT specialist.

Handle 1: Clean up desktop, download folder and recycle bin

You download a document, automatically put it in the download folder or on the desktop, and after you no longer need it, you forget to delete it: Sounds familiar? Many people like to use the desktop as a quick place to store things, says Termer. However, it should not degenerate into a document graveyard, nor should the download folder, because that slows down computer performance: "One technical reason why a computer works slowly is that the memory reaches its limits," explains Termer. "If, for example, only ten percent free memory is available, then this should be an alarm signal." But: "I would think that a computer in normal use rather rarely goes to its performance peaks." It looks different if you work for example with video editing software that needs a lot of memory.

To prevent a computer from reaching its limits in the first place: clean out useless files and create folders where you keep only important documents. A structure that works without much thinking saves time when cleaning up, according to the expert. What else helps: save documents in the cloud, because that saves PC storage. "Of important files, such as for tax returns or sensitive account data, you should always make a backup anyway."

You can tackle that right away:

  • Delete unnecessary photos, videos, documents and folders
  • Store important documents off-site or in the cloud
  • Clean up the download folder
  • Empty the recycle bin, because only then is the data permanently gone from the hard drive

Extra tip from the expert: "You shouldn’t wait too long before you see the first signs that your computer is getting tired."Instead, you should stick to fixed rules, such as "Every Friday, I clean up the PC thoroughly."

Handle 2: Uninstall obsolete programs

When downloading programs, very few people pay attention to how much memory such an application actually takes up – it’s annoying when a program then sits on the computer unused. Because even unused applications affect the computer speed, says Termer. That’s why: Browse through "Programs" (just type it into the search bar) to see what software you actually use – and then get rid of the dust catchers.

Handle 3: Adjust Autostart

Programs that are attached to the autostart slow down the computer already at startup according to Termer. For many programs it is sufficient to start them only when you really need them. An example: Skype. If you use Skype only for conference calls, the application does not need to start automatically when you start the computer.

You don’t even know which programs are currently running? Then, for Windows computers, use the task manager. "You can check how many programs are currently running and what percentage of memory is being used via this one," Termer said. You can reach the task manager by pressing "CTRL", "ALT" and the delete key ("DEL") at the same time (for Mac: CMD + ALT + ESC).

Attention: For changes at the autostart and the programs in general you need the administrator rights of your computer. In the case of a company computer, you should contact the IT department accordingly.

Handle 4: Scan for viruses

If the computer is running unusually slow, that may be a clue: Viruses may be at work! Because apart from data theft or loss, malware can also bring the computer to a standstill. "When there is an infestation, viruses and Trojans naturally take up resources and use memory to forward data and spy on activity," says Termer.

Mailware can get onto the computer, for example, via so-called phishing emails, i.e. emails with hidden viruses or Trojans, as well as via downloads. If you regularly use a virus scanner, you can prevent this – and also protect the company, especially in the case of the company computer. PCs are often networked: Then just one "infected" computer can jeopardize the entire operation.

Handle 5: Close unused browser tabs

The PC starts fast enough, but as soon as you use the Internet, it hangs with the surfing speed? Then it is probably due to too many open browser windows. "These browser tabs are freshly loaded in the background – often from a cache," explains Termer. And that takes over the computer. As a result, using the Internet becomes a test of patience. Therefore: Check regularly, which tabs they really still use!

Handle 6: Install updates

"Software manufacturers are always developing improved applications and using new technologies," says Termer. Who installs regularly updates, thus ensures that its computer is on the newest conditions. Therefore, check whether your operating system (Windows, for example) is up to date and install updates for your programs. This is not only important for the working speed of your computer: According to Termer, updates also increase computer security.

Superfluous action: defragmenting!

"One myth I’m often asked about is that of defragmenting to speed up the computer," says Termer. Data blocks on the hard disk, so-called fragments, slow down the reading speed of a hard disk, and you have to do something about it yourself – or so they used to say. Because: As a consequence, a computer works slower. "Today, operating systems take care of defragmentation on their own. So you no longer have to do this by hand."

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