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Dhaka Tribune

How to bring your old laptop back to life

We won’t ask you to install some random software with a promise to speed up your laptop. These are proven fixes that actually work

Update : 07 Jun 2023, 07:22 PM

After a few years, all laptops start to get slow, or show lags in performance. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, slow RAM, C drive being full or the startup programs taking up a lot of memory. 

Slow devices directly influence your productivity. No matter how fast you work, your slow laptop will hold you back.

Here are some things you can do right now to help speed it up without installing “speed boosting” software. While some of these fixes might cost money, it's nothing compared to replacing a laptop. 

Upgrade your RAM

If we consider a computer as a human body, the part that would be similar to RAM is the human brain's working memory. 

RAM, in a computer, is responsible for temporarily storing and quickly accessing data that the computer needs to perform its tasks. The more RAM you have, the better. But do keep in mind that there should be a limitation in terms of how much RAM you can add to your laptop.

If you have a laptop which is more than 14 inches in size, then you probably have an empty RAM slot inside of it. For example, my 15.6-inch ASUS laptop had RAM soldered into the motherboard while an entire slot was sitting empty. 

Adding 8GB RAM will take you somewhere between Tk3,500 to Tk4,000. You don't necessarily need to buy “new” RAM. 

RAMs are some of the more robust components of a computer that does not wear and tear easily. Just get your laptop to a computer repair shop and ask them to add some RAM that will work with the existing RAM that's inside your laptop. If you got only one RAM slot with one already installed, you may get one with more memory and just sell the original one to the repairman. 

Increasing the amount of random access memory (RAM) in your laptop can significantly improve its performance, especially if you frequently use resource-intensive applications.

Clean up your hard drive

As you use your laptop over time, the hard drive will start to get filled with temporary files, unnecessary software and other clutter that can slow down your laptop. 

Use the built-in Disk Cleanup tool on Windows and it should be able to serve the purpose. If you still need a third-party app, you can go for the free version of CCleaner. But make sure that you don't allow it to auto-start whenever your computer starts. 

Additionally, you can also uninstall any unused programs to reduce the load on your system.

If you use a Windows laptop, remove music, photos, movies and large files from the inbuilt photos, music and videos folder. All of that ends up in C drive, which runs the operating system and will considerably slow down your device. 

Optimize startup programs

Many applications set themselves to launch automatically when you start your laptop, which can consume valuable system resources and make the boot time longer. 

You can easily review the list of startup programs and disable or remove any unnecessary ones without any third-party apps. 

You can manage startup programs on Windows using Task Manager. Just hold down the [ctrl] + [shift] + [esc] keys at the same time and Task Manager will pop up. Go to the Startup tab and you will be surprised to see the number of software that automatically starts whenever you turn your computer on. 

Don't hold back and disable most of them. Adobe has a reputation for adding many entries in start-up that are totally unnecessary. You can keep a few enabled, maybe Avro to write in Bangla. 

Upgrade to an SSD

Traditional hard drives (HDDs) consist of spinning disks and mechanical components, which can lead to slower read and write speeds. 

On the other hand, solid-state drives (SSDs) use flash memory technology, providing faster access times and data transfer rates. 

As a result, installing an SSD in place of an HDD can significantly boost your laptop's speed and responsiveness.

If your laptop still has a DVD ROM with it, you can just think about the last time you used it. If you can't recall using it at all, you can just remove it. 

But here's the catch, adding an SSD in place of your DVD ROM won't help achieve anything. What you need to do is remove your hard drive, put it inside a hard disk CADDY, place it where your DVD ROM was and add the SSD where your hard disk was. 

In case you don't have a DVD ROM, you can just replace your hard disk with an SSD and grab a case that will turn your hard disk into a portable USB hard disk. These cases are usually available for Tk500-1000, depending on the quality. CADDY also costs a similar amount. 

If you are lucky, your laptop may have an empty PCIe NVMe port for SSD. If you have one of those, just use that. NVMe SSDs look like a chip. But they are even faster than the SATA SSDs. 

You don't necessarily need to get a high-capacity SSD. The only purpose of the SSD will be to store your operating system (C drive) and the programs you use. 

I would still recommend getting a 240GB SSD instead of a 120GB one because 240GB is faster. A 240GB Samsung Evo SSD will take you somewhere between Tk4,500 to Tk5,000.

Adding an SSD to your laptop will significantly increase its boot times and allow your laptop to be ready for use within seconds.

It will also improve application loading times, enhanced file transfer speeds and provide you with an overall snappier system performance due to the faster read and write speeds. SSDs will reduce lags significantly. 

Perform regular maintenance

This is kind of given and something many don't have the time to do. But it helps, though. In some ways, at least. 

Regularly maintaining your laptop can help keep it running smoothly. By maintaining, I mean updating your operating system and drivers to ensure you have the latest security patches and performance enhancements. 

You can also run antivirus scans to detect and remove malware that could be slowing down your system. You don't need to spend money on buying an antivirus if you are using Windows 10 or above since the built-in Windows Defender is more than enough to protect your PC against viruses. 

Additionally, defragmenting your hard drive (not required for SSDs) can optimize file access and improve performance.

The temporary file cleaning should also be incorporated into the regular maintenance. You don't need to do all these daily or even weekly. Do these once a month, or when you notice your system getting slower. 

Changing OS

If you already did everything and you still feel like the PC is slow, maybe it is time to go for something lightweight. For example, a low-demanding Linux distro (Puppy Linux, Lubuntu, Linux Mint) or maybe ChromeOS Flex. 

ChromeOS Flex is an extremely lightweight operating system developed by Google for older devices and it's basically just a Google Chrome web browser with some additional apps. It also has great connectivity options that work well with your Android phones. In this era of web apps, you will be able to do most of your work using only Google Chrome. 

For example, you get Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for your Microsoft Office needs, Photopea.com for Photoshop works and Canva for all the photo and video editing tasks. It depends on what you need to do with your laptop.

There's a catch, though. ChromeOS Flex works best with SSDs and installing it will require you to empty out your entire memory. 

Conclusion

Out of the five options, upgrading to a solid-state drive (SSD) typically has the most significant impact on overall performance. 

While the other suggestions can also have a positive impact on performance, such as increasing RAM or cleaning up your hard drive, upgrading to an SSD tends to deliver the most noticeable and significant improvements in speed and responsiveness.

When buying a new laptop, you should consider getting a processor which will be relevant for the next five years or so. This is something you cannot change later on. 

However, all other components, especially the battery, which we didn't talk about here, are replaceable. 

I spent around Tk10,000 on my laptop and now it has a 240GB SSD in addition to 1TB hard disk and 12 gigabytes of RAM. I opened as many tabs as needed in Google Chrome and I forgot the last time it froze. 

Granted, I cannot play high graphics-intensive games due to the lack of a proper GPU. But I can do what I want to do. I have made estimations and if I bought a new laptop, it would have cost me at least Tk70,000 for similar performance. 


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