Nowadays it’s all about speed, computers have to boot under 10 seconds, apps have to open in a snap of a finger, and web pages are consider slow if they take more than 1.5 seconds to load. There is no doubt that Windows 8 is a very fast operating system, you probably noticed the first time you boot your new or recently upgraded PC.
But didn’t you notice that over time your system gets slow? The simple tasks like booting up, launching an app, or accessing documents take longer than usual. Well, your system is getting slow, but this isn’t completely Windows’ fault, you also play a big roll on your PC slow performance. To turn things around and make Windows 8 faster, below there are ten different tips you probably didn’t know that can really help speed up your computer experience.
Installing Windows 8 from scratch
For those users moving from Windows 7 or XP, or even Vista, to Windows 8, you should consider to perform a clean install of the operating system, instead of using the upgrade path. Although, Windows 8 can do a better job migrating your stuff over, you are always better off starting from scratch. This includes backing up your PC, erasing your hard drive, and installing a fresh copy of Windows 8. If you need help, this guide should help you.
Whether you’re using a brand new Windows 8 device or upgraded system, always install the applications you need and use every days. Everything else is just wasting of system resources and space in the hard drive. Take the time and keep your applications to the minimum, go to the Starting screen, do a search for Programs and Features, and start uninstalling the applications you never use.
Here is my warning: Make sure of what you’re uninstalling, don’t make the mistake of removing a piece of software you use quite often just because you didn’t know what it was. If you’re not sure, look up the program name and publisher with your favorite search engine.
Keep connected peripherals to the minimum
Like programs installed in your computer, peripherals, e.g., USB hard drives, cameras, external DVD drives, can cause delay starting your PC or accessing files. For example, even though it is a great and cheap solution, to connect a USB hard drive to expand the available store in a computer. By default many manufactures, even the operating system itself, may be configured with power saving settings, which means that every X amount of time the drive will turn-off, then if you need to retrieve a file or simple access “This PC”, you’ll notice your computer will take longer than usual just because it has to wait for the drive to come back online. So keep external connected devices to the minimum as much as you can and change the drive settings to stay always on (when plugged in, if you are configuring a laptop) — you will see the difference.
Secondary drives can also add latency to your everyday computer use. I see many people who upgrade to SSD and set their old hard drive as a secondary drive. Although, this is very convenient from the point of view of taking advantage of all available space, you will notice how the PC gets slower with the new drive. If you can live with only one drive, in this case with a Solid-State Drive, the better.
Upgrade to SSD
Solid-State Drive, or SSD for short, is one the best investments you can do to speed up your PC and to improve the overall performance of Windows 8 on your older hardware. A difference from traditional hard drives with rotating platters and mechanicals read/write arms, SSDs are much faster, thanks to their flash memory technology. Access to data is immediate and they consume less power because there aren’t any moving parts.
ReadyBoost in Windows 8
If you are unable to upgrade your current computer to a Solid-State Drive, you can still use ReadyBoost. This is a well-known feature in Windows 7 to speed up performance, but because many users are using Windows 8 on new PCs with SSD, the feature got lost. To use Windows 8 ReadyBoost you’ll need a USB flash drive or an SD card equal or greater to the amount of RAM in the PC — You can use this previous Windows guide as reference.
Upgrade system RAM
The next step would be upgrading your system memory (RAM). This is one of those things, when the bigger the number the better. Check your computer’s manufacturer website and figure out if your computer model has available slots to add more memory. If it doesn’t, you can replace those memory sticks with new ones with better speed and greater capacity.
This is a method use in traditional hard drives, which basically reorganize all the bits in the drive for faster access to data. By default Windows 8 is scheduled to optimize drives weekly, but you can override to daily or monthly.
Keep in mind that Solid-State Drives don’t need to be defragmented, but from time-to-time they need to be “trimmed”, which in short is a mechanism that tell the operating system which blocks are no longer filled with unusable data and are ready to be wiped out.
To optimize your drives, simply go to “Computer” or “This PC” in Windows 8.1, right-click a hard drive, select Properties, go to the Tools tab, click the Optimize button, and click Optimize for every drive.
Windows 8 updates
Windows updates are very important, not only to patch vulnerabilities, but also to improve system performance. Windows 8, unlike previous version of the operating system, will have many major updates that will include not only patches, but also performance improvements and new features like in the case of Windows 8.1. This is an update which feels more like an upgrade but it will include many new features that make the OS more productive and fixes many shortcomings, like the return of the Start button and the boot-to-desktop option, among hundreds of new changes.
Also, you should check regularly with your PC manufacturer for drivers update, sometimes they can be the cause of many problems related to system slowness.
Keeping your PC clean
By keeping the PC clean, I mean literally that, I see a lot of people using laptops and even desktops as bookshelves, air vents blocked by even more books, coffee mugs, or papers. This is not good, blocking the computer’s air circulation will not only cause overheat, but it will also slow down your system and it could also cause hardware failure.
So, this could be a good time to clean your desk and make sure that nothing is blocking the computer’s vents — also don’t forget to clear the dust off the vents, this is also a big factor for overheating –.
Here is a well-detailed guide from HP Customer Support that goes step-by-step (video included) on how to clean dust out of your laptop.
Don’t shut down
A few other things that can help you to keep Windows 8 at full speed, is to not shut down your PC every day. We’re are on times where devices can practically be online all the time. What you can do is to put your computer into a lower power state, putting your PC to sleep is an example. If your Windows PC is one of those that keeps the power light blinking all the time, you can opt to use the hibernate state, which is like shutting the system off, but when it resumes you can keep working where you left off. But of course at the first sign of trouble, or when there are new updates available, hit the restart button.
In this Windows guide you were presented with ten ways to speed up Windows 8, but most of them can also apply for computers with previous versions of the operating system. Also keep in mind that what you’re learning today doesn’t focus on power consumption, instead it is focus on finding the way to make your system as fast as possible with your current hardware and by just adding relatively simple upgrades.
How do you keep Windows 8 fast? Share your tips in the comments below.
Featured image source Flickr