One of the more annoying things to see on your computer is the wait icon — that spinning circle that means whatever it is you want to do next will have to wait while the computer catches up.
Fortunately, in many cases, you can take five minutes with these five tips to get some of that PC performance back.
1. Stop the auto-starts
Ever notice how many apps and icons pop up as your computer loads? You need many of them, such as your antivirus software, but some apps ask to run even when you barely use them. Like, do you really need that GPS update app to always run even when your GPS isn’t connected? If not, turn them off. Just click those apps appearing in your taskbar and check for an option along the lines of “Start with Windows” and uncheck the box. That will mean one fewer program running when it’s not needed. You’ll still be able to run the program normally when you do need it.
2. Uninstall unneeded apps
Once you’ve gone through the apps that no longer need to start when Windows boots, you might find you have some apps that you never use at all. If so, it’s best to remove them from the computer completely. Aside from reducing clutter, it also clears up space on the hard drive.
To do this, bring up the “Windows Control Panel” or do a “Start” menu search for “Programs and Features.” Once there, you can easily see the installed programs and uninstall them by selecting them and then hitting the “Uninstall”/“Change” button. One tip here is to sort programs by the install date. This often helps you know what programs have been on your computer for years without use and can make it easier to recall what a program is for when you remember when it was installed.
3. Check your power settings
Windows is made to run on a variety of devices, from desktops to laptops to tablets. It’s a balancing act of battery life versus performance for portable devices. But if you’re going to keep your laptop plugged in most of the time for serious work, you might want to visit the “Control Panel” or do a “Start” menu search for “Power Options.”
There you’ll find options to maximize battery life, performance or a mix of the two. If you plan on being plugged in, go ahead and set your current power usage to the max performance plan. Just don’t forget to set it back when you intend to be on the road a lot.
4. Clean up that hard drive
You’ve already removed any unneeded applications to help clear up hard drive space, but there’s often a fair number of temporary files generated during typical daily use of a computer that aren’t always removed when you’re done. Fortunately, there are a few ways to clear those out safely.
One way is to bring up your “File Explorer” and right-click on the hard drive. Select “Properties,” and you’ll see things like how much space is available on the drive. You should also see a “Disk Cleanup” button that will help with these unneeded files. Another great tool is the free CCleaner app that helps clear out temporary files from a number of popular apps, including browsers like Google Chrome or Firefox.
While you’re in the hard drive properties, don’t forget to check under the “Tools” tab that the drive is set to automatically optimize and defrag your hard drive. In most cases, Windows will set this automatically, but it’s always a good idea to check that nothing has changed.
5. Time to upgrade?
If you’ve tried all the usual fixes, and your computer is still running slowly, you might want to consider making a few upgrades. That doesn’t mean you need to buy a new computer — although that might be the best option if your device is older than four years.
Two common upgrades that might help performance are adding more memory or replacing a standard hard drive with an SSD (Solid State Drive). More system memory allows your computer to juggle more data as it’s working on multiple tasks. An SSD is generally much faster at accessing data but tends to be not as great for storing large amounts of data.
Check with the experts
Of course, it never hurts to have Geek Squad look at the computer to give you a better idea of what’s slowing it down and next steps to get it back into shape. There are a range of things under the hood that can cause issues, like viruses or adware, malfunctioning software or drivers, or even bad hardware.
You can connect to our Online Support team for a remote check-up 24 hours a day, or schedule a reservation with the Precinct Agents at your local Best Buy for a PC health check. From there, our Agents can make suggestions or advise which services or upgrades will work best for you.