With the right tweaks your old laptop can be running much faster
Most of us are not in a position to run out and buy a new laptop. There are always bills to pay and other expenses that seem to be more important. If you are like me, you find ways to stretch what you have a little longer. I am notorious for such things. Why buy a new iPod when you can get one that is a couple generations old for cheap on eBay. There are multiple ways to take your aging laptop and boost its performance to give you more years of use.
Upgrade Your OS
This is usually done automatically, so it is not something that we think about often, but checking for updates can fix some nagging issues in the snap of a finger. Figuring out if your computer can handle the OS upgrade is also of importance. If you have an older computer, as I do, there is a limit to how far you can upgrade your OS. The main determinant for what you can run is your processor/motherboard. Checking for upgrades is also a way to fix small problems that are due to outdated drivers.
Here are a couple of useful links on how to check for updates on Mac or Windows:
Take Out the Digital Trash
One of the easiest ways to boost your computer speed is to make sure that you are running a clean ship. There a couple ways to do this. Make sure that you empty your recycling bin/trash regularly. Another area to look for space wasting items is in your downloads folder. I am notorious for letting my download folder pile up with GB’s of space eaters. Here are a couple of things to check to speed up your old computer:
- Empty trash/recycling bin – Trash, recycling, whatever your computer calls it, keeping it clean can free up GB’s of space.
- Clear your downloads folders – Once you’ve moved items out of your downloads folder, make sure you delete the original in your download as it is no longer needed.
- Clear your cookies/cache/history – This is usually accomplished in your internet options folder. These folders become quickly cluttered, so keep ‘em clean.
- Keep your desktop clean – Make sure not to pile a bunch of big files on your desktop. It’s bad for organizing, so use folders instead.
Hello, it’s me, Peter, just a heads up, there are affiliate links below. I utilize eBay often and think it is great for this type of thing.
Now we get to the point where you may have to spend some money. Then again, who thought they wouldn’t have to spend money on one of these 5 ways to keep your old laptop running? One thing you must consider with your old computer is whether it is worth putting money into. A good way to figure this out is to look at your processor. Replacing a motherboard is not a cost prohibitive thing to do, so if your processor is so out of date that you cannot run anything, these upgrades will do little to help you. You can usually find processor information by using the Apple icon on Macs and with the control panel on Windows machines.
New Laptop Battery
Has your laptop become a desktop because the battery only lasts the time it takes for you to get a beverage from the fridge? Then it may be time to get a new battery. A new battery will help you on a number of levels including allowing for more time unplugged, avoiding overheating, and just to provide enough power to run your computer properly.
Little bit of warning here, you may want to pick up some anti-static equipment for this next part. Once you open the body of a computer up, exposing the sensitive circuit boards and microchips can lead to problems. Anti-Static wristbands or anti-static mats can reduce the risk of static electricity ruining your equipment. That being said, I’ve tinkered in my old computers a decent amount and not had a problem. Just something to think about.
Replace Your Old Hard Drive
The hard drive is the brain of your computer and can make a world of difference. There are two main types of computer hard drives:
Hard disk drives (HDD) were the standard for a very long time. They consist of a standard optical drive reading a physical disk that holds information. Think CD-ROM but with WAY more information. There are a lot of moving parts in this type of drive that can fail, along with the fact that the read and write times are predicated on physical parts moving about. This tech is on its way out and the future is in solid state drives. The only real advantage to an HDD is the price as they will be cheaper.
Solid state drives (SSD) are the current gold standard of hard drive tech. As opposed to having information stored on a digital disk, like HDD, information on a solid state drive is stored utilizing flash memory. That means no more optical drive reader moving about clumsily. SSD drives can read 10x faster than HDD and they can write up to 20x faster. This is a performance boost that you will notice.
It is a night and day difference in performance between these two types of hard drives. Switching to an SSD will revitalize your computer and allow you to increase your storage space exponentially. This was a real transformation for my computer as it took me from 180 GB of storage to 1 TB! The performance boost was also immediately apparent. Trust me, it can make a world of difference.
A final suggestion is to upgrade your Readily Accessible Memory or RAM. RAM is there to help your CPU manage all the programs that are running. Too little RAM and your computer will bog down like an ATV in a mud pit. You can check for how much RAM your computer can handle in your settings menu. There are multiple types of RAM, so make sure you pick the right one for your computer.
SRAM – Static RAM is faster but more expensive
DRAM – Dynamic RAM is more common but not as fast
There is an amount of RAM that your computer comes with and there is the maximum amount of RAM your computer can actually hold. My old computer came with 4 GB of RAM. When I did some more research, I found out that my computer can actually hold 8 GB of RAM which meant I was able to double my RAM. An RAM upgrade can really boost load times and overall functionality. Here are a couple of useful sites to figure out what your computer can hold:
PC – This is a guide to figuring it out on a PC. Since only Apple produces Mac’s, it’s a little easier to find a streamlined guide. There are a lot of PC makers out there!
Make sure you use the guides linked in this article to check the type of RAM you will need. The last thing you want is buy some brand new RAM and have it be completely wrong.
Reusing old technology is good for the planet and for the pocket book. Purchasing RAM and a new hard drive will not break the bank in the same way that purchasing a new computer will. Depending on the size of the replacement tech you are purchasing, you can revitalize your computer for under $100. I went big as I did not want to have to upgrade again, so I spent about $150. This will keep my old laptop running for a good while longer. When I do finally get a new machine, my old one can serve a great backup to dump files on. If you follow these 5 ways to keep your old laptop running, I assure you that your old computer will run much more smoothly and for much longer.