Make Your Laptop Faster

Category: Laptops

Many people spend more time on their laptop computers than they do at desktop models. For them, speed is just as important. Unfortunately, laptops generally make a trade-off between weight, price, and performance that can leave them running slower than their desktop counterparts. Here are some things you can do to squeeze more speed out of your laptop…

How to Speed Up Your Laptop

First, remove all unnecessary programs. Laptops often arrive with tons of "extras" that many users never use. Go to Control Panel, click Add/Remove Programs, and review the list of the bloatware installed on your laptop. Un-install things you aren't using. A free program called PC Decrapifier (gotta love the name) will help you identify and remove unwanted programs.

Check the Power Management settings to make sure you're getting the right balance between battery life and performance. From Control Panel, select Hardware and Sound, then click Power Options. If you usually run on AC power instead of battery, choose the High Performance power option. You can open the "Change plan settings" link on a Power Option to tweak the settings for that plan.

Many bargain laptops come with the bare minimum of RAM. Adding another gigabyte or two of RAM often provides a significant performance boost. If your applications access the hard drive frequently, or if videos display jerkily, add more RAM to speed things up. As a general rule, 2 GB of RAM is barely enough; 4 GB is plenty for the average user; and more RAM is needed only for the most memory-hungry 3D gaming or business applications. See my article Memory Upgrade for help finding and installing RAM memory.
Faster Laptop

The Aero theme of Windows 7 looks cool but is a real resource-hog. Right-click on your desktop and select the "Personalize" option from the context menu. Then set a new theme that does not use Aero gimmicks.

More Speed Tweaks: Under the Hood

Hidden processes and startup programs can steal resources and make your laptop run slower. You can use the Windows utility MSCONFIG to control which programs load at startup. My article Startup Programs will help you tune your startup settings. Malwarebytes, developer of the popular antimalware utility MBAM, also makes a utility called StartupLite which can eliminate unnecessary background processes that most people don't use (like Windows Fax Services).

Using a registry cleaner regularly speeds up laptop performance as well as desktop systems. (See my related article Do I Need a Registry Cleaner? for more info on the Windows registry.) So does the Disk Cleanup function built into Windows, which deletes temporary files and Internet browsing histories that may clutter up and bog down hard disk operations. Defragmenting a hard drive also improves overall system performance.

Generally, a laptop computer can benefit from the routine maintenance and tuning that you use on a desktop machine. The keys are to minimize the number of applications and processes that run simultaneously; provide adequate RAM; use wall outlet power whenever possible; and keep your hard disk in good order.

Do you have tips for speeding up a laptop? Post your comment or question below…

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Most recent comments on "Make Your Laptop Faster"

Posted by:

11 Mar 2011

I have heard that adding a solid state hard drive (SSHD) as a second drive and putting your OS and all your programs on it is a good option for adding laptop speed. I have yet to take the plunge. If anybody has comments on this, I'd like to hear.

Posted by:

Zed Zamora
11 Mar 2011

Latest version 1.07

Great reviews, then I read multi comments and links. All stated very limited Windows 7 compatability with no plan by MBAM to update for Windows 7. :(

Posted by:

12 Mar 2011

Replace the old/small slow HD with a new/larger and faster HD

Posted by:

Uncle Miltie
12 Mar 2011

When I bought my Laptop about 3 years ago, I bought a premium one at the time with a better processor (T7250),
2GB Memory, etc. because I knew Laptops were slower generally than desktops. I was really disappointed with the performance of the HP I bought. Soon after I checked out the normal things like paging, defragging, cleaning etc. but
nothing made a great difference. Recently on reading about HDtune in Rankin’s column I thought I would run that on
My PC’s. My desktop came in at 100-200 MBs/sec as expected, my Netbook came in at about 60 MBs, but I was astounded to see that my laptop was only at about 35MBs. I immediately bought a WD500AADS drive and now my laptop is running at about 100MBs and it has become the machine I always expected. I have also done some tuning
With Ultimate Defragger which added a bit more. The moral of the story is check out your disk drives also(even on a new machine)

Posted by:

Cesar G Bogino
12 Mar 2011

I have been using Diskmax and it does a great job cleaning your system, thoroughly and free!

Posted by:

Tom S.
12 Mar 2011

Another program that I found that works well in getting rid of any left over information is 'Revo Uninstaller'. You would be surprised just how much information is left on your hard drive after you just run the built-in 'uninstall' of most programs.

Posted by:

Al Houstoun
12 Mar 2011

Advise make restore point B4Travel if you are planning to wireless on a cruise. Tech may change settings that allow ship wireless but cause problems at home and you do not know what they did

Preset addresses in a group to speed up email
Set for text only
It is very easy to exceed $100 even using pay as you go.
Disable Skype blocked on many ships but it uses up time trying to connect no warnings
Do complete virus and malware scan since Ship tech often disables both
Use a separate account for travel so it has limited activity.

Posted by:

13 Mar 2011

When you tell me that somehthing "Decrapifier" is free and I download it but can only use it to its full extent if I purchase it, that IS NOT free. Instead of decluttering my laptop I have more Crap on it. If you says something is free please mean it.

EDITOR'S NOTE: PC Decrapifier website says it is "Free for personal use." Perhaps you were confused by the option to purchase a Commercial License?

Posted by:

Joe Doran
13 Mar 2011

Read a review of PC Decrapifier which was pretty scary Bob. It identified what looked like legitimate programs to get rid of and some which could render your machine useless. Joe D.

EDITOR'S NOTE: PC Decrapifier has gotten very good reviews from Lockergnome, PC World, The Washington Post, and the NY Times. Perhaps the "review" you found was written by a competitor?

Posted by:

Nigel L
16 Mar 2011

Bob - you suggest putting in more than 4gig RAM. Can your PC actually use that if you have a 32 bit OS?

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you have a 64-bit version of Windows XP, Vista or WIn7, you can use more than 4GB. All 32-bit Windows can use a max of 4GB.

Posted by:

Wally H
21 Mar 2011

PC Decrapifier has never let me down. And while the author would gladly accept donations for this fine program, it is free to use.

It's best to Decrapify a new computer (before installing a bunch of apps) because you can be pretty confident that what is flagged will be okay to delete. Otherwise, just be careful what you delete. You can always leave a program if you're not sure.

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