How to Make a Laptop Faster Without Buying Anything

by Contributor

It is entirely possible to improve the performance of your laptop without buying any commercial products. Many of these steps are common sense, and while you might think of some of them yourself, you probably will not think of all of them all. The more thorough you are, the more improvement you will see. However, do not expect miracles. If you have an old laptop, do not expect it to be able to run new games intended for high-end desktops.

Keep it cool. Despite its name, you lap is not the best place to put a laptop. Laptops generate a lot of heat, which can have a severe effect on your laptop's performance. Try not to use it in a hot room. Never set it on a bed, pillow, upholstery or anything else that is soft. Instead, place your laptop on a hard surface like a table. If you like using your laptop in bed or on the couch, try putting a book or a thick magazine in your lap and then setting the laptop on top of that. Every ten minutes or so, turn the book over so the surface never gets too hot. This will absorb the heat.

Shut down unneeded programs before using power-hungry software like games or large spreadsheets. The more programs you have running at the same time, the worse your computer's performance will be. Most computers have a lot of unneeded programs running in the background from the moment you boot up your computer. Shut them down manually using Ctrl+Alt+Delete, or download a freeware application that will shut them down for you. If you have Wndows Vista, you can also access the start up configuration by selecting "Run" from the accessories menu, then typing "msconfig" in the box.

Use anti-virus software regularly to get rid of threats to you computer. Viruses will often degrade your computer's performance. At the same time however, be sure to shut down your anti-virus software when playing games or using other performance intensive software. Anti-virus programs use up a very large amount of your resources when running.

Get rid of spyware. Spyware is not only a nuisance and an invasion of your privacy, but it also uses up your computer's resources. Get rid of it with a freeware program like Spybot.

Review the contents of your hard drive. If your hard drive is full or nearly full, this will slow down your computer significantly. Most games and many other demanding programs write to your disk regularly. If they have to spend a long time searching for free space, this will definitely slow things down. Review the contents of your hard drive and uninstall all the old games you no longer use and delete any large unused files, such as images or MP3s. If necessary, save the files to CD or to another hard drive.

Defrag your hard drive. A heavily fragmented hard drive is a sure way to reduce you computers performance. While commercial defragmenting programs can be very effective, even using the defragger in Windows will help some. Try to do this at least once a month. Go to "My Computer," and right-click on the icon for your hard drive. Click on "Properties." Select the "Tools" tab. Then click the "Defragment Now" button. If it has been a long time since you have defragmented your disk, be aware that this can take a long time, sometimes several hours.