Speed Up Your Laptop
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?
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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 4 Mar 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Speed Up Your Laptop (Posted: 4 Mar 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved