subscribe: Daily Newsletter
search the site
How to speed up an old computer
As your computer ages, performance declines. Some people choose to wipe their hard drive and start over. Others buy whole new machines. Before you do either, try some basic maintenance to solve these common problems. You might be surprised by how easily you can improve your computer’s performance, says Roberto Caprio, MD, Dial a Nerd.
Limited hard drive space
To check your computer’s hard drive space, click the Windows “Start” button and click “Computer.” Right-click your hard drive and click “Properties.” The amount of space you need depends on the programs you use. However, you should have at least a few gigabytes of space free for virtual memory.
The only way to improve storage is to buy a new hard drive or delete programs and files. Movies and music take up gigabytes, so deleting these items will free up the most space. You can delete unused programs in the “Programs” section of Control Panel.
Too many start up programs
Click the Windows “Start” button and type “msconfig” in the text box. A window opens where you configure start up services. Click the “Start-up” tab. A list of start-up programs displays.
Scroll down the list and remove the check mark next to each program you don’t need. Click “Apply” when you’re finished. Reboot your computer for the changes to take effect.
Hard drive fragmentation
You can fix both fragmentation and corrupted sectors using disk defrag tools. Fortunately, Windows includes a disk defrag tool with its operating system.
Click the Windows “Start” button and click “Computer.” Right-click your drive letter and select “Properties.” Click the “Tools” tab. Windows gives you several tools for disk maintenance. This time, click the “Defrag Now” button to start defragging your hard drive.
Defragging may take several minutes or even hours, so perform this maintenance when you don’t need to use your computer.
Windows updates and outdated drivers
Click the Windows “Start” button and type “Windows update” in the text box. Click “Install Updates” to start the installation. If no updates display, click “Check for Updates” to download the latest patches.