Waiting for your PC or laptop to load files, programs and software can be frustrating to say the least – especially if you forked out a sizeable sum of money for your machine. Instead of heading straight to the high street to upgrade to a newer model there are a few simple tweaks you can try first, from adding extra memory to using Window’s own software, ReadyBoost.
Here we take a look at some hardware options for all budgets that should give your computer an immediate performance boost.
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A quick way to get a speed boost is to use a USB memory stick (available from as little as £5), which adds extra memory to your computer in a similar way to adding more Ram.
Once you’ve plugged it into your computer, select the ‘Speed up my system’ option from the AutoRun menu. Windows checks the drive and if it’s suitable, you’ll see a ReadyBoost dialog box.
Tick the Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost box or select Use this device and adjust the slider to select how much free space you want to assign to ReadyBoost (see right). Any remaining space can be used for storage as normal.
Click OK to finish.
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Offload files to an external hard drive – from £50
Every document, spreadsheet and photo you save to your PC takes up space on your hard drive. If you’ve used your PC for a long time, it’s likely that its hard drive is now packed with these files. Once it’s more than 85% full, you’ll probably start to notice a drop off in the speed of your computer.
To free up some room, it’s possible to swap your existing hard drive for a larger capacity model. However, a far easier solution is to store some of your files on an external hard drive. They’re relatively cheap (1TB models start from around £50) and are easy to use – simply plug the drive into your computer’s USB port and it will appear in Windows Explorer as a new drive.
You can transfer existing files to the external hard drive, save new files to it, and some models can even be partitioned so you can use some of its capacity for automated Windows backups.
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Install a solid-state drive – from £100
A sure-fire way to speed up your PC is to swap the hard drive for a solid-state drive (SSD), similar to those found in top-end ultrabook laptops. Unlike standard hard drives, SSDs have no moving parts, which helps them to give super fast startup times and performance.
Before you make the switch, be aware that SSDs generally offer smaller storage capacities, so you may need to migrate some of your files to an external hard drive if you want to keep hold of them. They might be the most expensive option here, but they are also the most effective.
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