10 Ways To Speed Up Your Slow Technology

As fast as your technology may have been on day one, it's probably not quite so speedy now. That doesn't mean you can't restore it to its former glory. Whether its your desktop, laptop, or mobile device, here are 10 great ways to speed up your slow technology.

Photos by iDesign (Shutterstock) and oknoart (Shutterstock).

10. Clean Up Your Drive

Wether your drive is in a computer or a mobile device, if it gets filled up you're probably going to lose some speed in the process. Although you may have a number of important files on that drive, there's still a bunch of stuff you can get rid of. On a desktop computer, the easiest way to find what's taking up a bunch of space is to use a disk space analyser. Then you can use that information to figure out what to delete.

Most Android users can migrate data to a microSD card and call it a day, but if you're rooted you can use an app like SD Maid to clean things up automatically. If you're running iOS, you don't get an automatic method for cleanup but you can view what's taking up all that space. Head on over to the Settings app, tap General and then tap Usage. You'll get a rundown of which apps are using how much space so you can delete them, or at least delete some of the data they're saving on your device.

9. Install a Custom ROM on Your Android

When Android 4.1 Jellybean is released (and actually on real devices), the OS' sluggishness might be a thing of the past. For those of us still running 4.0 or earlier and are bothered by speed issues, choosing a speed-optimised ROM can help remedy the issue. Speed is probably not the first priority of the ROM that comes with your device, so do a little research to see what's available and if you can flash something better.

8. Speed Up Dropbox's File Syncing Speeds

You can only upload as fast as your connection allows, but Dropbox -- by default -- limits your upload speeds no matter what. Instead of maximising your connection, it automatically choices whatever speed it believes is optimal. You don't have to let Dropbox choose for you. You can limit it to any speed yourself, or remove that limit entirely:

On Windows, Click Dropbox in the system tray, then Preferences > Bandwidth; on Mac, click Dropbox in the menu bar, then Preferences > Network > Bandwidth > Change Settings. Once there, change your Upload rate to "Don't limit", or if you're familiar with your network's upload bandwidth and want to exercise a little more control, pick an upload limit that you're comfortable with in the Limit to field.

That's all there is to it.

7. Uninstall Unnecessary Apps

There's nothing wrong with a few apps on your computer, but when you're running a lot of them it can slow things down. If you need them you need them, but there are probably a few you don't. At the very least the apps are using your disk space, if not taking up additional resources, so it's good to audit your collection and uninstall what you don't need. Unsurprisingly, uninstallers can make this process a little easier for you. They give you a list of your apps and let you remove them with a few clicks. You still have to audit the list yourself, but it's a process that's much more simple than manual removal.

On mobile devices this isn't so much of an issue as both iOS and Android make it pretty simple to get rid of an app you don't want. Sometimes you end up with a lot of apps and aren't sure what you can get rid of. If you've got an app addiction problem, just follow this guide to help you figure out what should stay and what should go so you can keep your mobile a little tidier.

6. Perform System Maintenance and Optimisation

Modern operating systems perform maintenance tasks on their own, but these automated routines aren't perfect. It's a good idea to perform these tasks yourself on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. On Windows, CCleaner will get the job done. It works on OS X as well, but we prefer Onyx.

5. Speed Up Browsing Times By Optimising Your DNS Settings

The amount of time you spend waiting for a site to load can be a bit faster if you're using the best DNS servers. The problem is, which servers you ought to be using will depend on your location. Namebench is a free utility for Windows, OS X and Linux that'll run tests to figure that out for you so you can optimise your DNS settings. The test can take a little while to complete, so run it, take a break and come back to better DNS server suggestions. If you want to learn more about how DNS can speed up your browsing times, check out our guide.

4. Install A Lightweight Operating System

Sometimes your computer is just old and any speed gains you can tweak out of it are not going to be worth your time. Instead, it's better to just say goodbye to the machine as you know it and give it a lightweight operating system it can run with ease. Which OS should you pick? You've suggested several options, as well as some good ones for netbooks (which may do just as well for old machines), but generally that means some flavour of Linux. While that'll work for a lot of Lifehacker readers, it won't for everyone. If you'd rather stick with Windows, trim it down to the bare essentials. It may not be as fast as some of those tiny Linux distributions, but it'll be a lot faster than a feature-rich copy of Windows.

3. Boost Your Boot Time

You're probably not rebooting your computer with too much regularity, but that can make it all the more frustrating when you have to wait to see your desktop again. While booting up is always going to take a little while, you can speed it up. Windows users have a great tool called Soluto that helps you fix a number of issues that cause slow performance, including problems that affect boot times. If you want to learn how to use it, check out our guide.

OS X users don't have such a nice solution, but OS X is pretty quick when it comes to the actual boot screen. More slowness occurs after you see the desktop and all the little things you have installed start to open. If you want to remedy that situation, just head into the System Preferences app, the Users and Groups preference pane, and click on your user. In the Login Items tab you'll have a list of all the stuff that you've set to run when you log in. If there's anything in there that you don't really want, just remove it from the list and your startup time will improve. Users of OS X Lion (or later) may also benefit from disabling the Resume feature, which restores your computer to its previous state as soon as you boot up. You can do this in the General preference pane in System Preferences by unchecking the box next to "Restore windows when quitting and re-opening apps."

2. Overclock Your Processor

If you literally want to speed up your computer, that's what overclocking can do for you. Some processor overclocking provides greater speed gains than others, so you'll want to do a little research before you jump right in. The process takes quite a bit of time, commitment, and care, so you don't want to bother if you're in for negligible speed gains. That said, we've got guides for Intel processors and low-powered PCs and netbooks. You can even overclock your video card, too.

1. Get an SSD

By now, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we think the SSD is the best upgrade you can get for your computer and now is a great time to buy one. SSDs have never been more affordable and they can make a sluggish computer feel brand new. If you've been sitting on the fence about making the upgrade, now's a great time to make the change. Just know that you'll never go back.


Comments

    When buying an SSD you should always get a PCI-E drive, rather than the SATA one pictured. Slightly more expensive, but significantly faster.

      Mate, I think you got to check your prices. Unless you show me one?

      Uh...the cheapest revodrive is well over 300 dollars for 120 GB. That's much more expensive than any other SSD.

      Sure, I'll just whack one in the spare PCI-E slot in my laptop!

    Yes, PCI-E RAM/SSD drives are much fasted than the normal SATA drives. However, they are more pricey than buying a new computer with a standard SSD installed - this article was about 'old technology'. While these tips are good, here's one that probably going to make the most difference. Install Xubuntu or windows XP - don't apply patches. You lose usability and with XP unpatched is probably the most insecure system ever, but it will be a lot faster and ok if you don't use it online. Xubuntu however, an excellent full safe OS without the crap to slow you down.

    having a lightweight OS, or even just Ubuntu/Mint/Fedora with Gnome Classic makes my netbook usable.

    Yes, I have a problem of a slow running computer Windows XP. Thanks for for the update on the Top 10 ways to speed up this technology. Please keep me updated. I'm going to follow your suggestions here if I can so I can have this PC of mine be up to a high speed running ability. This is an old one desktop PC, but it is a good friend of mine to help me do my work. I have an Acer laptop Window 7 which I bought it in July of 2010.. It's running fine. But this Deskstop that I am using right now is quite slow and there are lots of unnecessary stored info that I should be deleting and do some clean-up of my disk drive. We have 3 computers at home: a. 2006 Windows XP, 2) Acer 2009 Windows 7 and 3) HP Windows Vista- The last 2 I do not have problems with them. Only the first one the Windows XP.
    1. Slow in its performance, but thanks that we now have a HI-Speed Internet Connection installed last July 12, 2012. This really helps.

    2. I do not have plug-ins until now. How do I have it this computer? Can this be downloaded in my PC?
    3. I am not able to have connection with the Internet Explorer right now lately. So what I am using is the Mozilla Firefox to get connected with the Internet. Can you please help me with this so I can use the Internet Explorer besides Mozilla Firefox?
    4. With regards to my Outlook Express, I cannot send out emails directly from my Outbox. I do have to always check my Internet Account and to get out emails out of the Outbox.
    5. Another problem is the Adobe Flash Player since I cannot have it installed in computer. I have seen it my Control Panel the icon of this Adobe Flash Player, but I cannot make it to work.

    6. I do have the Windows XP Media Player, will this be enough? Can this offset the Adobe Flash Player instead?

    Do I need to install Xubuntu in my Windows XP also according to what I read above? Please let me know.. Thanks for whatever assistance you have and will give to help me with these problems. Elwena

    msconfig is a handy utility, however the entries in it are mostly cryptic, and it's hard to work out what can be disabled safely, or without impact.
    What is more annoying is that entries that I've turned off keep reappearing (presumably when I update the software) and the result is a bunch of duplicate entries (some enabled, some disabled).

    Suggestion: Microsoft add one of those security confirmation messages whenever a program tries to add an entry to the startup list. This will help the user understand which programs are creating entries, and stop the software authors from sneaking entries into the list that the user doesn't want.
    This is a major reason why Windows gets slower over time and needs to be reinstalled, which is a factor in Windows competitiveness against other OS.

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