Speed Up Your Laptop

Category: Laptops

My laptop is only a year old, but it seems to be running slower than when it was new. And it's definitely a lot slower than my desktop for most things. What can I do to speed up my laptop?

Speed up laptop

Tips For Speeding Up a Laptop

Laptop computers are generally slower overall than desktops, unless you spend thousands of dollars on the highest-performance "desktop replacements." Portability is lovely but speed definitely matters, too. Here are some ways to speed up your laptop.

Replacing a standard 5400 rpm hard drive with a 33 percent faster 7200 rpm drive is probably the best investment you can make in a laptop. Disk read/write operations are the biggest bottleneck in all but the cheapest, underpowered laptops. Replacing a laptop's hard drive is much easier than the same upgrade on a desktop machine. There's usually just one screw to remove. Then you pull of the drive bay cover; pull out the hard drive; slip in the new one; format the new drive and install all your software and data. The restoration of programs and data is easier if you made a disk image copy before removing the old drive.

Adding more RAM improves laptop speed, up to a point. Add up the memory requirements of your operating system and the applications you use most, and get the next higher increment of RAM. Going beyond 4 GB yields only small performance increases so it's seldom worthwhile. However, if you use your laptop to manipulate large databases, video files, or graphic files, you may want additional RAM so you can set up a RAM drive large enough to hold such files. If you use a RAM drive be sure to save your work to disk frequently, as any shutdown of the computer will lose all data stored in RAM.

Defragmenting your hard drive can provide noticeable speed increases, particularly if your laptop's hard drive is running 75 per cent full or more. A file that is all in one piece can be read much faster than one that lies scattered all over the drive in several fragments. Some utilities, such as Advanced System Care Pro, optimize the placement of files and folders on your hard drive so that the most frequently used files are at the outer rim of the disk where it moves faster beneath the read/write head.

Keep your hard drive free of unneeded files, so that the operating system has fewer files to index and search when one is needed. Empty your Recycle Bin and delete temporary files regularly. Uninstall programs and delete old pictures and videos that you haven't used in a long time. Don't be a packrat.

By default, Windows uses the power conservation features built into modern laptops to save battery life at the expense of some performance. You can change these settings in Control Panel > Power Options to use maximum performance all the time, but you should be prepared for shorter battery life. This may not matter if your laptop is plugged into an electrical outlet most of the time.

Want more ideas for speeding up your laptop? My article Make Windows XP Run Faster! contains some tips that apply to both laptops and desktop models. And even if you run Vista or Windows 7, almost all of those tips still apply. Check 'em out!

Don't Try THESE at Home...

Overclocking a laptop is not advisable. Overclocking involves setting the computer's CPU to a higher frequency than its factory default setting. Overclocking does speed up central processing but it makes the CPU generate more heat. Desktop computers can be equipped with supplemental cooling systems to compensate for overclocking, but laptops have just one fan and it is not up to the job. You are likely to experience sudden shutdowns and data loss with an overclocked laptop, as the computer turns itself off to prevent overheating from damaging the CPU.

You might be wondering why I didn't mention just replacing the CPU with a faster model. That's an option, but in most cases, it's just not cost effective. And as far as do-it-yourself projects go, replacing the processor on a laptop can be tricky, because it's not always easy to gain access to the innards of the machine. If you have an old clunker of a laptop, your best bet for better performance may be to replace it.

Do you have something to say about speeding up a laptop? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Speed Up Your Laptop"

Posted by:

04 Mar 2010

Speeding up a laptop may really mean speeding up Firefox, if that's the browser you usually use. The add-on Firefox extension Vacuum Places Improved 1.1 can make a slowed down Firefox run quickly again - I use it on my machine.

Posted by:

05 Mar 2010

If you replace a 5400 rpm hard disk with a 7200 rpm job, might there not be a problem with heat? The faster one will generate more heat than the older slower one and your laptop might not be able to cope with the extra heat. Anyone tried it?


Posted by:

05 Mar 2010

i accidentally deleted 3 files of the windows(in c: drive, that beside the program files) . then a lot of my program become cannot run. like the paint, notepad, and lots. how can i fix that?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Try System Restore. See http://askbobrankin.com/system_restore.html

Posted by:

05 Mar 2010

Another improve for laptop's is the cleaning process for the cooling sistem , wich should be made on every at least 6 months.

Posted by:

07 Mar 2010

Run disk clean up .This should be done at least once a month then run defrag
Access both from accessories menu then click system tools and disk clean up.
This might take up to an hour if it has not been done regularly.
Excellent speed increase can be obtained by altering visual performance option.Access via control panel,system properties,advanced,performance then click visuals best performance. All the fancy stuff is removed but the speed increase is quite noticeable.

Altering virtual memory can also speed things up.
Access via control panel, system,advanced,performance settings,advanced, virtual memory.Change to 50% greater than actual memory. EG if ram is 2 gig, make virtual memory 3 gig and make sure you click set after the change.

My Win xp rig is running really well now after those few changes.Should work the same for Vista and & Win7

Posted by:

10 Mar 2010

The best cure is to replace the HDD with an SSD - e.g. the 80GB Intel will do nicely. If you run Windows7, you should get a 2nd generation Intel because of the TRIM support. But for XP or Vista, a first generation will do because those systems do not support Trim. A first generation is cheaper. I bought a couple for $189.

Posted by:

12 Mar 2010

I've upgraded the memory & hard drive in a Dell Inspiron 6000 and up to a point have found it easy and producing positive results. A couple of problems though: original memory was 1Gb and at the time 1Gb sticks of laptop RAM were scarce, so I tried 2 x 2Gb sticks - the system would not even boot to the BIOS screen. If I took out 1 stick, everything worked fine but the system simply would not boot with 4Gb. I ended up getting 2 x 1Gb sticks and things went fine (looks like the BIOS will only recognise up to 2Gb). Upgrading the HDD was interesting: the original was 100Gb IDE and I replaced it with a 160Gb - no problems. About a year later I again upgraded the HDD with a 3230Gb IDE (Western Digital). On powering up, the BIOS saw the full 320Gb and I started to re-install WinXP. After the 1st phase of formatting the HDD and copying the install files, the laptop rebooted to continue the install but came up with the error "No system drive present". I have tried everything including splitting the 320Gb HDD into 100Gb partitions but the same thing happens every time. The only way I could get WinXP onto the new HDD was to take an image from the 160Gb HDD and image the 320Gb with that. The 320Gb HDD also proved to be unreliable with it failing to boot on several occasions (flashing cursor only) & requiring a re-image. The BIOS is the latest available and Dell are no longer providing any further BIOS updates. Any ideas??

Posted by:

Joe M
13 Mar 2010

Mick G - Are you sure the 320GB drive you're using is good? A very good investment is Spinwrite (www.grc.com). Good luck.

Posted by:

17 Mar 2010

I hope the author of the post is following the thread, because he/she didn't mention the name and version of the operating system.

Could we have a mention of that bit of information, please? It would be most interesting, because I thought this was no longer supposed to happen ... and for some reason, the OS rather than the hardware comes first to my mind.

Posted by:

30 Mar 2010

This is not a laptop but desktop on the vein of overheating and I need help. My new HP Pavilion Elite ROARS and keeps the fan in "OVERDRIVE." The company tech thought it a graphics card problem. Now, I am sure it is from observing the NVIDIA card and locating the sound. I want the fan and graphics card replaced at least. I'm concerned since it was going to Sleep Mode and I left and came back later after a long time and found it ROARING that could there be wear & tear damage. The case worker won't guarantee even replacing the card, only the fan. Should I ask my credit card company to negate the purchase and pay to ship it back it as I can't get it exchanged for fear it will have major problems from these roaring episodes and possibly overheated wires, etc. and all the times the fan is loud between modes. I want to be fair, but protect my investment as this problem was here from get-go. I've tried to work with the techs. It was a large investment for me, and I don't want to have major repairs when the warranty is up due to these problems. Thanks for any help.

EDITOR'S NOTE: It might be cheaper to buy a new graphics card than to ship the computer back, and then pay shipping on another new computer.

Posted by:

13 Apr 2010

Here's a (Toshiba) laptop speed up tip (Vista) that I just found out about.

The sidebar app which I usually kept visibly closed was still causing the CPU to run faster. I clicked the icon (by the clock) and chose to exit the program.
Wow, what a noticeable difference.

I allways assumed that if I could not "see" the gadgets it wasn't using CPU/RAM

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