Speed up your computer

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Speed up your computer

Get Norton Utilities Ultimate to optimize your PC automatically for faster, smoother, more reliable performance.

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How to make your computer faster: 12 ways to improve computer performance

A woman using her laptop to research ways to improve her computer's performance.

Is your computer getting slower by the day? If so, you should clean up your PC to optimize its system and get it running smoothly again. Keep reading to learn how to make your computer faster and improve its performance. Then, get Norton Utilities Ultimate, a specialized cleanup app to make your computer faster, cleaner, and more reliable.

Whether you can’t open your favorite apps, your device is frozen, or you’ve been staring at the spinning wheel of death, nothing can be more frustrating than a slow computer.  

And if you’ve experienced all of the above, we’re sure you’ve also tried the troubleshooting basics — restarting your Wi-Fi router or closing out all your applications. 

If that still hasn’t helped, it’s likely you’ve desperately Googled “how to make your computer faster” and are willing to try anything to speed up your device.  

Well, that search has led you to the right place, as we’ve compiled 12 steps you can take to boost your computer’s performance, including:

Whether you have a minute, an afternoon, or an entire day, these steps can help you increase the speed of your computer. Let’s troubleshoot, shall we?

How to boost your computer speed

1. Turn off auto-launching programs

By default, many applications are configured to launch whenever you power up your computer. With many apps starting to open at once, it can put a tremendous strain on your device’s computing power. This can make your computer feel slow and clunky. To prevent this, be sure to turn off auto-launching on any program you don’t want to start automatically.

2. Close out unneeded tabs

While it may be tempting to leave all of your internet tabs open for easy access, keeping a cluttered web browser can negatively impact your computer's performance. When you leave a tab open, it is often running processes in the background that can slow down your computer even when you aren’t using it. To avoid this, regularly close out tabs you're no longer using.

3. Update your operating system

In some cases, updating your operating system can help speed up an old computer. These updates often include bug fixes and security patches that help keep your device safe and up to speed. It’s important to remember that this step may have a reverse effect on some older devices. For example, a new software update may contain additional programs and features that could be hard for an older device to handle. To be safe, research the recommended computer requirements before updating.

4. Delete unnecessary files

Unnecessary applications and files can bog down your computer over time. One of the best ways to improve computer performance is to go through your files and delete anything you don’t need. Not only will this free up space on your hard drive, but it can also improve the speed of your device. If you wish to start from scratch, you may also wipe your old hard drive clean.

5. Utilize the cloud

If your hard drive is filling up and slowing down your computer, consider moving your files to the cloud. That way, you can free up space on your hard drive without having to delete anything. This option is also cheaper than upgrading your hard drive, as many cloud storage services offer free options, though usually with a storage limit.

6. Reinstall your operating system

Another way to make your computer faster is to reinstall your operating system. Some operating systems are known for slowing down over time. By reinstalling it, you’re giving your computer a fresh start. If you decide to go this route, make sure you back up any important files because reinstalling your operating system may wipe some or all of your files.

7. Clean the interior of your computer

How to clean your computer

Cleaning your computer is another great way to keep it running smoothly. If your hardware is kept unclean, it can become vulnerable to overheating and other issues that could impact the speed of your device. You can clean your computer by following these steps:  

  1. Power off and unplug your computer.
  2. Dust the outside of your computer with a soft cloth.
  3. If possible, remove the side panels of your computer.
  4. Using a can of compressed air or a soft cloth, remove dust from the fans, vents, and filters.
  5. Reinstall side panels or covers. 

While you complete this process, pay close attention to any fans, vents, or filters, because that is where dust is likely to accumulate. By regularly cleaning your computer, you can help keep it cool and well-ventilated, which can help make a computer fast.

8. Install a solid-state drive

If you want to seriously speed up your computer, consider swapping out your traditional hard drive for a solid-state drive. By design, these types of hard drives are much faster and can even improve the speed of older devices. If you decide to make this upgrade, be sure you back up any important files to ensure nothing gets lost in the process.

9. Increase your RAM

Another factor that can determine your computer’s performance is the amount of RAM, or random access memory, it has. RAM is instrumental in allowing your computer to run multiple tasks at once, as it helps temporarily store important information. For example, upgrading from 2GB of RAM to 8GB can give you noticeably faster computer speeds.

10. Use an external hard drive

Much like cloud storage, using an external hard drive can help make a computer run faster. You can start by moving any large files such as videos and images, as they tend to take up a large chunk of your computer’s storage. With more free space on your internal hard drive, your computer’s performance and speed will likely improve.

11. Regularly restart your computer

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t restart or completely shut down your computer unless something is wrong. By using your computer’s sleep mode instead, you’re depriving it of the opportunity to get rid of temporary files and other crucial tasks that occur during your device’s start-up process. By regularly restarting your device, your computer can perform the maintenance tasks it needs to stay quick. 

12. Run consistent security checks

A slow device is a common symptom of many cybersecurity threats, including computer viruses, adware, and spyware. Not only can they slow your device, but these types of malware may also violate your privacy and could lead to identity theft. To cover all of your bases, you can use trusted antivirus software to regularly run security checks. This can help detect any issues that may be slowing your device and keep you and your personal information safe.

When to replace your computer

Signs you need to replace your computer

While these suggestions can help improve the speed of some computers, there are some instances in which your device may just need to be replaced. This is especially common with devices that are several years old. Here are some warning signs to look out for when you’re wondering if it’s time for a new computer:        

  • Slow performance: If you tried some or all of these tips with no success, your computer has likely reached  the end of its life span.
  • Noisy fans: Older computers often start to run warmer over time, even when trying to do simple tasks. If you notice your fans running louder and more frequently than usual, it may be time for an upgrade. 
  • Unable to update: As technology advances, some computers tend to get left in the dust when software updates are released. If your computer doesn't meet the requirements to keep your software up to date, you may want to swap your device out for a new one to ensure you’re getting the best security  features.   
  • Need for expensive repairs: Whether you spilled water on your computer or cracked the screen, we’ve all had times when our computer could use some repairs. Instead of dropping the money to fix your hardware, you may want to instead get a new device, especially if it's more than a few years old.  

Now that you have your device up to speed, you can quickly surf, work, and play with ease. To make sure your  computer stays speedy, combine regular computer maintenance and good cyber hygiene habits to help stay Cyber Safe online. By prioritizing your personal cybersecurity, not only will you protect yourself, but the performance of  your computer.

FAQs about how to make your computer faster

Even though you now know how to make your computer run faster, you may still have questions about the speed of your computer. Don’t worry — we have the answers.

What makes a computer runfaster?

A fast computer usually has a high processor speed and large amount of RAM. The higher these two factors are, the faster your computer will be.

How do I find the speed of my computer?

While many factors contribute to the speed of your computer, you can find out what your computer has under the hood by looking at its processor speed and RAM. 

To find this information on a Windows computer, follow these steps: 

  1. Click the Windows button at the bottom left of your screen.
  2. Select “Control Panel.”
  3. Click “System and Security.” 
  4. Under “System,” select “View amount of RAM and processor speed.” 

You can also find this information on your Mac device by following these steps: 

  1. Click the Apple icon at the top left of your screen. 
  2. Select “About This Mac.” 

By learning more about the processor and amount of RAM your device has, you can have a better understanding of its expected performance.

What is a good speed for a computer?

A computer with a processing speed of 3.5 to 4 GHz is considered to be a good speed, but those gaming or running creative programs may require higher speeds. For RAM, 8GB tends to be sufficient for most users.

Will a factory reset speed up my computer?

In short, yes, a factory reset can temporarily speed up your computer, but there is no guarantee that it will stay that way for long. In some cases, a computer may return to its slow state as it gets used over time. 

What makes a computer faster for gaming?

If you’re looking to use your computer for gaming, you will likely need more computing power than most users. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to make your computer faster for gaming, including:        

  • Enabling your computer’s gaming mode (if applicable)
  • Running your game at a lower resolution
  • Updating your graphics card     
  • Closing out other programs 

By following these steps, you should notice lower ping and an improvement in your gaming experience.

How to boost your computer speed

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Clare Stouffer
  • Clare Stouffer
  • Gen employee
Clare Stouffer, a Gen employee, is a writer and editor for the company’s blogs. She covers various topics in cybersecurity.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 


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