It’s a familiar feeling. Switching on your business or home PC, only to drum your fingertips impatiently as it takes FOREVER to load up. If your computer is running really slowly, then you might start to think about replacing it for a faster model. But wait… all is not lost. We’ve got some sure-fire ways to get your laptop or desktop computer running at an optimum speed, and most of them are completely free.

1. Stop, clean and delete

You can (carefully) open up most laptops to rid them of dust and other gunk, but to truly give your computer a clean, you’ll need to stop a number of processes from happening whilst your computer is running:

  • Stop programmes from running in the backgroundHave a look at your task manager CPU processes. If there’s a load of programmes that are hogging your computer’s memory that you only use occasionally, then disable them from running on start up. You can do this by using your system preferences.
  • Clean up your old computer filesYour computer probably has lots of old files just hanging around on your hard-drive that you simply don’t want. Install something like CCleaner to look through all your temporary files and make recommendations of what to clean to make your system run less slowly. Then, defragment your files so that everything runs smoothly.
  • Delete any redundant programmesGo into your control panel and uninstall anything that you don’t want – be careful not to delete anything your system needs to run however. Check the publisher, if it’s Microsoft or your hardware manufacturer, then you should probably leave well alone.Put items into storage

2. Put items into storage

Your computer might have enough space for your 5,000 photos of cats/babies/holidays, massive work presentations, film downloads and 100-odd days-worth of music, but that doesn’t mean you should keep it all on your laptop/desktop. External hard-drives can be a relatively cheap way to relieve your system’s workload and free up some memory.

3. Is something wrong?

Slow performance can sometimes be indicative of something going awry for your hardware. Your fan might not be cooling the CPU efficiently, for example. If your computer has slowed down considerably, it might be worth having it looked at and fixed with a computer repairs service.

4. Buy more memory or invest in a solid state drive (SSD)

Not the cheapest option, but cheaper than purchasing a new machine, is to look at getting more memory (RAM). Have a look at the memory options available in our spares shop. If you really want to ramp the speed, then upgrade to a Solid State Drive– but this option is pretty expensive and SSDs come with less storage than hard-drives.

5. Scan for nasties

Your computer is vulnerable to all kinds of threats, so make sure you’re fully protected with up-to-date antivirus software. Also, do a regular scan to check that there isn’t any malware lurking on your hard-drive, slowing everything down. To get rid of malware, there are lots of free tools out there. We recommend Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free (Windows) and AVG AntiVirus Free 2015 (Windows/Mac OS X/Android).

6. Better browsing

The browser you choose to use can make your internet searching experience faster or slower, so it's best to shop around and find the best one for your needs. Updating to the newest version can help your browser run faster, as well as regularly cleaning out all cookies, caches and history data.

7. Adjust your settings

Speed up your computer by changing the display set-up in advanced settings. You can adjust ‘for best screen performance’ - and also change your screen resolution if you feel that your super high-res display is affecting processing speed.

Tuning up your PC with these (mostly) free and easy methods should see your processing speeds going from snail’s pace to cheetah sprint. But if you’re still experiencing problems, it could be that your computer has had its day.

If you need to replace your laptop or desktop quickly and cost-effectively, a refurbished computer could be the answer.