How to Speed Up an Older Laptop

by Jason Gordon

"Older" is a relative word in digital terms. Some people consider a 1-year-old computer "old," while others happily buy 1- to 2-year-old computers if they are still able to run modern software. That may be the key to determining if a computer is old: Can it run the latest operating system and software without significant problems like lag? If not, it may be considered old. If you determine that your laptop is indeed old, how do you go about speeding it up?

Identify you manufacturer, model and specifications. You will need this information to figure out which parts will fit your computer. To find your specifications, check your owner's manual or go to the manufacturer's support web page and enter the identification tag information located on the bottom of your laptop.

Understand that computer performance is determined by a combination of factors, including processor (CPU) speed , memory (RAM) size, hard-disk size and speed, and the graphics card. Your best bet for increasing speed without installing a new processor (which may be not be possible, depending on your system) is to add memory and/or upgrade your hard drive.

Be aware that many modern computers come with 1GB (gigabyte) of memory or more. To run the latest programs and operating systems like Windows Vista, 2GB is recommended. After identifying the type of RAM that is compatible with your computer, you can buy additional memory from the manufacturer's website or a number of third-party sites like eBay.

Remember that hard drives are responsible for the storage and retrieval of all your data. If you hard drive is near capacity, it can really slow down your computer. Consider upgrading to a larger-capacity drive that has a speed of 7400 rpm (rotations per minute). You can find drives that are compatible with your laptop by checking the manufacturer's website or visiting a computer store. Make sure you are looking at laptop drives--a huge, fast hard drive isn't going to do you much good if it doesn't fit in your computer.

Install the additional memory and hard drive. Check your manufacturer's support website for disassembly and upgrade instructions. Follow them carefully to avoid damaging your system. If you are not comfortable opening up your laptop, find an experienced amateur or professional to help.


  • check Many older laptops are bogged down with numerous unused programs that run in the background, as well as possible malware infections. Before spending money on upgrading, format and reset your laptop to factory specifications. You will likely see a significant performance increase. Be sure to back up your data first! Defragment your hard drive on a regular basis and follow recommended maintenance procedures to keep your system from slowing down.

About the Author

Jason Gordon is a professional writer and editor. In addition to online work, he has written for "Texas Highways," "AAA Southwest," "Glimpse," the "University of Washington Daily" and the "Dallas Morning News." Gordon's passions include animals, reading and finding the perfect pairings of pastry and espresso.

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