Do you have an old, dusty laptop and don’t know what to do with it? Before you toss it to the depths of your electronic waste, let me stop you there. Old laptops are not total goners. With these few tips on how to make an older laptop run faster, you can make this piece of old technology feel new again.
As someone with a deep sense of nostalgia for old devices and computers, I’ve considered it my unofficial mission to salvage them as much as I could. From experimenting with new processors, tinkering with its components, and whatnot, I will not stop until I’ve milked a laptop’s last technological breath.
But truth be told: slowing down and becoming outdated is a given fact in technology. As new laptops get introduced in the market, a batch of old models gets buried one foot deeper into obsolescence.
Still, there are many ways to claw a bit of speed into your trusty computer. In this post, I will share some of my not-so-secret tips for reviving an old laptop’s vigor.
How to make an older laptop run faster
Ready to add tricks up your sleeves? Here are the tips you can try that don’t really need a nerdy amount of tech knowledge.
1. Downgrade your OS
If you want your speed to increase, your OS must decrease. Downgrading to an older operating system will free up space on your laptop by a whole notch. You will achieve a reasonable improvement in your laptop’s speed.
Of course, this method has its share of downsides. While you’ll enjoy reasonable speed, you’re also doing away with the fancy features of newer operating systems. For some, this is something they can live with.
On the downside, this could be an issue if you need to use specific programs. Take note that old OS may no longer support newer applications.
Still, downgrading one step down on your OS isn’t that bad. After all, it will make your old laptop useful to some extent.
2. Beef up on RAM
If you don’t want to kiss your current OS goodbye, the second best thing to do is to amp up your RAM.
RAM is a tech acronym for Random Access Memory stores data temporarily. It allows your device to run various programs and process many tasks at once.
With this, a small RAM can only perform so much. So if you’re still stuck in the 4 GB RAM game, it’s high time that you get that upgrade.
To be fair, RAM isn’t the only determinant of a laptop’s speed. Other factors like the type of drive and processor are also important to consider.
But overall, beefing up your laptop’s RAM will surely make a big difference. Don’t forget to check the compatibility well. You can see this on your laptop’s system or the body itself.
3. Scour out malware
Malware can make your laptop feel slower even if it’s not supposed to. The likes of viruses and spyware will consume your laptop’s memory, leading to its sudden slowdown.
If you’re browsing the web without antivirus or firewall, you’re a total sitting duck for these attacks. Hackers can easily infiltrate your laptop and steal your information – all the while you’re thinking that it’s just another case of hardware issues.
With this, you should install malware cleanup software to trace and erase all the threats on your old device. You should also get an antivirus program that guards effectively without consuming too much space on your laptop.
Take note that laptops with malware tend to be very slow to boot and shut down. If yours is experiencing this for no reason, you should perform the steps I mentioned here.
4. Clean up the disk clutter
Disk clutter can slow down your laptop to an extent you don’t expect. In this case, you should run Disk Cleanup to check all the files and apps that can be deleted from your device. This will save you from manually checking all your files just to see what can be removed permanently.
Still, you should be aware that the perks of running Disk Cleanup also depends on how much RAM you have. With that, I suggest adding more RAM first, so this command would be more efficient.
There are also other disk cleaner programs that you can try. The end goal is to free up as much space from your old laptop as possible, so it can “breathe” and function better.
5. Purge your programs
Trust me, you’ll have at least one computer program that you don’t remember installing. This is why I recommend going through your list of programs and deciding which ones you can get rid of.
My rule of thumb is that if I haven’t used a program in three months, I would delete it right away. This way, I won’t hoard apps that I don’t really need.
Also, it’s very easy to get lost between installing one new program after the other. Before you know it, your computer is filled to the brim with dozens of programs that you’ve barely used.
Take note that even a single software can slow down your laptop too much. This is very common in antiviruses, games, and editing software.
6. Switch to SSD
Another upgrade you can do on the hardware side is to switch your dusty HDD to SSD.
SSD stands for Solid State Drive. Unlike the mechanical Hard Disk Drive (HDD), SSD is a newer technology that utilizes microchips instead of a rotating disk. This means that SSD is more durable, faster, and high-performing than typical HDD.
Moreover, SSDs can speed up your old laptop drastically. If paired with a large RAM, your old laptop will seem like new. Also, SSD is quieter and won’t make the weird screeching noise that old HDDs do.
However, SSDs tend to be more costlier than HDDs. Also, SSDs are usually available in smaller capacities due to the price tag. But if you’re willing to invest in speed, you won’t regret this upgrade.
After all, more and more modern laptops are now using SSDs as the main storage. While you can still find HDDs in the market, it’s no longer as efficient as an SSD.
7. Lighten the load at startup
Is your old laptop taking forever to boot? It might be doing the unnecessary heavy lifting during start-up.
Programs that are allowed to launch during startup will consume memory the moment you press the power button. And if you have a dozen, your laptop will take longer than usual to process everything.
Instead, you should turn off these start-up programs and just leave the ones you really need. Still, don’t go for a total purge as some services like antiviruses need to be active the moment your laptop is on.
Just aim to turn off as many programs as possible. This will help lighten the load of your laptop, so it will boot and shut down faster than before.
8. Check your browser
Internet browsers take up a large chunk of space on your laptop. Aside from the browser itself, it will also accumulate cache, cookies, and other files. If you don’t clean it, your browser will eat up too much space until your laptop is turtle-slow.
Make it a habit to empty your browser’s cache regularly, especially if you search the web often. You can easily find this in your laptop’s browser settings.
Also, based on my experience, Microsoft Edge tends to be lighter compared to Chrome. The latter uses twice as much memory when running, so you should consider switching up. You’ll see a major difference in speed, even if you’re opening multiple tabs at once.
9. Defrag your drive
Defragmentation is a method of reorganizing a hard drive, so pieces of data won’t be scattered all over. Also known as defragging or defrag, this process is like picking up scattered pieces of paper and then stacking them neatly in one spot. This way, the data will be faster to retrieve once needed.
Overall, defragmentation will boost your laptop’s performance. You can use the built-in defrag tool of Windows or a separate tool. Just be advised that Windows’ defrag tool is quite limited and manual, so it may not be a practical choice.
To be honest, this is more advanced and complicated than the other methods I discussed here. So if you’re not familiar with the defrag process, I highly encourage you to contact a professional. This is so you won’t mess up your hard drive and lose your files.
10. Skip the fancy graphics
The fancy graphics of your laptop might be eye-pleasing, but it’s always at the expense of speed. All the animation and special graphics you see took up space, which contributes to your laptop’s slow performance.
Also, animations are purely a visual bonus for users. It doesn’t improve the functionality of the tool. In short, you can turn this off to save laptop memory and enhance its speed. However, this is only ideal if you’re not really picky when it comes to the user interface of your device.
11. Stop auto-updates
Automatic updates are my greatest nemesis in the Windows world. It drags down laptop speed drastically, especially if you’re running other memory-hungry apps. It’s an unending cycle for Windows OS and many users have a love-hate connection with it (including me).
Nevertheless, the auto updates problem is easy to fix. Simply turn off the automatic updates feature or delay the schedule on the advanced schedule. This will buy you time, but remember that Windows updates are inescapable. At one point, you’ll have to run it to keep the proper functions of your laptop.
Aside from system updates, you should also shut off automatic updates of apps.
12. Cool down!
Lastly, focus on keeping your old laptop cool. The problem with most old laptops is it easily overheats, which makes the performance unbearably slower. It’s also a bit scary, especially if your laptop gets crazy hot that you can fry an egg over the keyboard.
There are many cooling devices you can buy for this purpose. There are laptop fans that will prevent your laptop from sounding like it’s going to take off during summer.
All laptops have built-in cooling hardware, but some of it may not be enough. It’s either you upgrade or stick to external cooling fans.
Aside from that, you shouldn’t place your laptop on soft surfaces like mattresses and fabrics. This can cause overheating, and even an open fire, as the vents fail to expel hot air.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why does my laptop becoming slow?
A: Old laptops will gradually become slower because they can no longer keep up with the demands of new systems. Its memory is smaller, its processor is outdated, and its hardware components are no longer at par with the industry’s latest standards. Much like a car engine, a laptop will reach the end of its serviceable lifespan. The good thing is you can stretch this lifespan through upgrades.
Q: Do laptop computers get worse over time?
A: Laptops don’t necessarily “get worse”. It’s just that they accumulate programs and files along the way, which will slow it down. Also, bugs and malware will eat up more memory, resulting in even slower performance. If you maintain your laptop’s system well, you can enjoy its peak performance for years.
Q: How many years can a laptop mode last?
A: A laptop will have its top performance at around 3 to 5 years. After that, you will start to notice issues like a slow response, overheating fast, and so on. Also, you may not be able to run more advanced programs on an old laptop due to compatibility issues. This is normal and an expected phase among technological devices.
Q: Does my laptop’s RAM slow with age?
A: RAM does ‘age’ or degrades over time. After all, it’s just another piece of technology that’s meant to last for a specific period. Over time, your RAM’s parts will become damaged due to regular wear and tear. You have to replace this or upgrade to a newer laptop if you want a speedy device that can keep up with your level of use.
Q: How do you know if it’s best to replace your laptop?
A: Trouble with multitasking is a common sign that you need to get a new laptop. Other symptoms include problematic security, extremely noisy fans, a startup that takes forever, and shutdown times that just won’t end. Instead of wasting your time on all these issues, you’re better off switching to a new model that can handle all your tasks.
Q: Does making a full reset on my laptop help it run faster?
A: A full reset may help run your laptop faster, but there’s no guarantee that it will be sustainably fast. So aside from starting with a clean slate, you should also consider the tips I shared above. All these will help revive your old laptop and make it useful again.
Knowing how to make an older laptop run faster will let you maximize your old devices even more. There are many ways to bring back the functionality of your old computer, although with reasonable limitations. Overall, experimenting and doing some tweaks will make a big difference in its speed.