Can My PC Run Faster?

I admit I have an old PC. So old, I cannot recall just how old. It could have been purchased around 2010? Anyway, we suffer with a limping PC that runs slow as molasses. I know the last Windows push(es) don’t help. But, what else is slowing* it down? (*To be clear, when I say “slow” I do not simply refer to the Internet and accessing websites. I mean, even opening an email or Word, etc., will bog down my PC.)

Let me ask:

  1. Any SDopers (esp computer gurus) have opinions on that website they keep advertising on TV, “My Clean PC .com” (not posting an active link)? Is it a scam? Is it also a risky venture, like they may do more harm than good? …Or, embed spyware?
  2. Do recent versions of Windows allow for defragging? Yes, I should know this, but I seem to recall having trouble finding how to defrag ever since the Control Panel has been “dummied down” which proves more restricting, I feel. For one, I can’t find features as easily as I once could, etc. Heaven forbid they leave stuff alone. :astonished:
  3. What else can I try to make my PC run faster? {Yes, I’ve cleaned out cookies, checked Task Manager (I hear Chrome is a RAM hog), and run McAfee - all to no avail.}

Reinstalling Windows on a solid state hard drive will have the greatest impact. But the biggest factor by far is hard drive speed. Solid state drives are something like 20x faster.

If you don’t want to start over from scratch on Windows many solid state drives come with software to migrate your existing information to the new drive.

Step 1, see if you can put the operating system on a Solid State Drive, or SSD.
Step 2, how much RAM do you have?

Main question though, what do you want to have this computer do? Web browsing, word processing, watching Netflix?

Assuming you are running Windows 10, defragging should be automatic.

You can get SSDs quite cheaply these days. You don’t have to get a lot of storage–you can still use your hard drive for stuff like movies, documents, and such. You’ll just want to use the SSD for booting. A reinstall would be the fastest way.

If you have Windows 7 or older (Vista, XP) the ‘Clean My PC’ type software can provide a minor speed increase. For Windows 8, 8.1 and Windows 10 these programs do almost nothing.

McAfee, antivirus/anti-malware programs, Word and Outlook add-ins.

If you have a 2010 I3, it may just be that it seems slow now, and may never have had enough memory. (I5 or I7 I wouldn’t think you would notice, and probably had enough memory)

Protip (at least on the more recent versions of Windows), hit the Win key on the keyboard, when the start menu pops up, type what you’re looking for. For example, if you hit the start key and type ‘defrag’, the defragger will pop up before you even finishing typing the word.
This seems to work for most anything. Programs, control panel items etc.

Here are a few tips:

See how much space you have on your C: drive. If you have little free space then Windows will run slower. You want at least several gigabytes (GB) of free space.

Uninstall any programs you don’t need.

If you’re running Windows 10, go to Task Manager, Startup tab. That will show you which processes are starting automatically each time Windows starts. Disable/uninstall any programs you don’t need.

Don’t keep a lot of browser tabs/windows open, they eat a LOT of memory. If you are trying to do something that doesn’t need your browser, close it entirely.

To make an informed contribution we would need to know the specs of your computer. Installing additional memory could make a big difference. Clearing out useless files could make a difference. Clean up software such as you mentioned generally creates more issues than they solve. Not to suggest there aren’t some decent ones. As a general rule, you don’t need them. You can do clean up yourself for the most part. A lot of anti virus software includes basic clean up tools, as does Windows itself.
Get rid of your temporary files and of course your internet cache. Check for malware - Malwarebytes is good and it’s free.
My computer must be pushing the 10 year old mark and is running just fine with Windows 7. However it was a custom computer when new. Lots of RAM & everything I needed too make it last. It has. I didn’t ‘upgrade’ to Windows 10 because I didn’t care for what I saw & heard about it. Despite Microsoft’s drive to get everyone to buy version 10, you don’t need it. Version 7 won’t cause your computer to disintegrate.
I get the impression your fix isn’t going to be just one thing but a list of small improvements.
You could wipe the drive & do a clean install of the operating system but that’s a pain. At least it is for me. I’m in the printing/pre-press business. It would take weeks to get things back to how I like it.
Another option is a Windows repair. Kind of like a fresh install except it retains a lot of your settings (hopefully). Depending on what you have on your computer that could take a couple days for Windows to wind it’s way through the repair.
If you have less than 10 Gigs of RAM, I would start with adding more. It’s easy - plug it into the slot - and RAM is cheap. But clean up useless files as best you can first.
One other good thing to do is partition your drive. I have my hard drive partitioned into 5 sections.

  1. C drive. Where Windows operating system lives. As well as software that refuses to install into anywhere but C: Program Files.
  2. Programs (software). The various programs I use with my work & whatever else. I have a lot installed but get rid of those I haven’t used for a long while.
  3. Swap. This partition is there to collect temporary files created mostly by the graphics programs I use.
  4. Data. Where I store my business files & associated odds & ends.
  5. Extra. Where I store digital photos & other odds & ends.
    The advantage to partitioning is that if/when your operating system has a meltdown, it’s not going to affect the files stored on the other partitions.
    Now that I’ve typed this novel, it could be that your hard drive needs replacing. Maybe you need a faster one. Or one with more storage. This will mean reinstalling Windows and everything else that’s on your current drive. A good opportunity to say f**k it and buy a new computer. Christmas is around the corner!
    Lots of advice & instructions available (Google knows everything). Good luck!

Everything mentioned so far has been good, but a couple of points I wanted to bring up just in case.

  1. Is this a desktop/tower or a portable/laptop? If it’s a laptop, various discussed upgrades will be harder, but still effective in many cases.
  2. Especially if it’s a laptop, make sure that under power/performance settings it is set to performance over endurance - it’s a huge difference in performance.
  3. Price your fix - the extra RAM and SSD are the best fixes, and you can get both for relatively cheap on the internet (say roughly $50 US each on Amazon depending on make and model for 16G of RAM and a 500G SSD). Since you’ve mentioned software fixes, I am guessing that you may not be comfortable with a hardware fix. Although don’t let yourself be intimidated, it is a lot easier than it looks for most desktops. But even at only $100, that’s @ 20% of the cost of a solid new desktop which could be a better choice.

Has anyone thought to mention an SSD? :crazy_face:

Both Windows 10 and macOS now run slower than molasses on spinning HDDs. Even on newer computers.

I am interested in this. How do you know which drives have this feature?

How much RAM do you have? It sounds like maybe your PC is short on RAM. Generally speaking, you probably want at least 8 gb, if not 16 these days.

I’d look into that before fooling with a SSD; adding RAM is pretty much seamless in terms of the user experience (doesn’t require drivers, or anything- you just replace/add the modules, set up anything necessary in the BIOS on the reboot, and you’re off to the races. Windows automatically recognizes and starts using it without you having to do anything.

As “the guy” who runs lots of desktops and laptops, none of which are any more recent than 2015 and most of which are pre-2012, I’ll toss in a few suggestions.

Yes, install an SSD, even if it’s a desktop. You can get a 240 GB SSD for less than $30. You probably don’t really need anything larger. (People often think that they do when they don’t.) If it’s a desktop, you can usually use the SSD as a replacement for your boot drive, then leave the boot drive for internal spare storage. A simple $9 mounting bracket, an $8 power splitter, and a $4 SATA cable will do the trick.

You can easily clone your old HDD to the new SSD. I won’t suggest which program to use, but you can do it for free…trust me.

Installing more than 8 GB RAM is nice, but it won’t give you the bang-for-the-bucks the SSD will.

Upgrade to Win 10 if possisle. It will work better for you and it’s still free (if you have an activated installation of Win 7). Really. I have a couple Lenovo S10s running Win 10 (32-bit) and they definitely run faster, even with only 1.5 GB of RAM. If you’re concerned, then clone your HDD to an SSD, put it aside, and then upgrade the SSD to Win 10. You can always put the old HDD back in if you don’t like it.

Personally, I would ditch any antivirus or other add-ons in favor of using the Windows security products.

Double-check your start-up programs and be merciless in disabling anything you definitely don’t use all the time. For example, my printers have a monitoring program that is a hog. Don’t need it.

Open Task Manager and check to see what processes are using resources. You may be surprised at what is slowing you down.

Good luck!

Quick note, make sure you are looking at Sata SSDs, not M.2(usually NVMe) SSDs. Even though the M.2 NVMe are faster, You won’t have the M.2 slot to install it, and would cost more anyway.

You’ll have to read the marketing material. Crucial drives come with Acronis, Samsung has their own branded software.

Do you use Chrome? When Chrome is idling, it slows everything down. Sometimes I have to end Chrome in the task manager, to get everything else up to speed. There are few things Firefox doesn’t support.

These are all good thought. You’ve given me a lot of food for thought. A lot of things to look into here. Let me check into some things, and I’ll reply back.

I didn’t mean to be coy about cloning software, but I’m always unsure about mentioning specific products in an appropriate manner.

For my money, there is nothing that works better and simpler than the free version of Macrium Reflect. You will have to submit your (an) e-mail address, but that’s all that’s required. I’ve tried dozens of other apps, including all the usual LINUX tools. Many of them do a great job. Reflect works easily under Windows and always does the trick, even when you’re cloning a larger drive to a smaller drive.

I’ll echo the SATA SSD suggestion - it’s a massive improvement.

The only issue with adding more RAM to a 10 year old system is that suitable RAM for an old system is actually harder to find (and possibly more expensive) than RAM for a current system. Do your research to ensure that any RAM you buy is suitable and compatible.