7 Free (or Cheap) Ways to Improve PC Performance

Sometimes I think that a computer is an always hungry monster – no matter how much you feed it, it is still hungry. Even if you spend a fortune on a powerful computer, you still will want more performance from it. On the other hand, there are many tricks that can help you improve your computer’s performance without spending tons of money. Here are some suggestions how you can improve your computer’s performance for free or for cheap:

  1. Add more RAM. Adding more RAM is one of the major improvements you can make. Prices have dropped and now you can get 4-8 Gbs of RAM for under $100. However, before you buy more RAM, make sure that your motherboard can accommodate it. Motherboards do have their RAM capacity, so if your motherboard is too old, it might not be able to serve 4 GB, not to mention 8GB or more of RAM. If you need to buy a new motherboard, this usually means that you will have to buy a new CPU as well. Even in this case you still might be able to go under $200 for everything but this usually means you will have to get a low-end motherboard, CPU and RAM, which is not necessarily better than having your old computer.
  2. Get a faster hard drive. Nowadays hard drives are fast but still it is always possible to get a faster one. As with RAM, first you need to check that your motherboard supports the new drive you have chosen. New hard drives are under $60-80, so it’s not a huge expense.
  3. Tweak your Windows. Now, this is a completely free way to improve your PC performance. You can get a free Windows tweaker and optimize your computer’s performance with it.
  4. Do not use virtual memory. When you don’t have enough physical memory, virtual memory is one of the ways to run applications that require more memory than what’s physically available. However, virtual memory is very slow and if you experience performance downgrades, you’d better either get more RAM, or run fewer applications.
  5. Close the applications you aren’t using at the moment. This is one more tip that I bet every techie knows but that ordinary users might not be aware of. When you have many open applications, even if you are not using them at the moment, each of them uses PC resources and slows down your computer. This is why it’s best to close all the apps you are not using at the moment and reopen them when you need them.
  6. Restart your Windows frequently. Another trick to help you improve performance is to frequently restart Windows (or Linux, if this is your OS of choice). Frequent restarts have some inconveniences – for instance they interrupt your work. However, if you have the habit of turning off your computer only when you are away for a long time, you should restart your Windows at least once in 2-3 days.
  7. Install Linux. Windows requires a lot of resources and if you don’t want to upgrade your computer right now, a workaround is to install an alternative operating system, for instance Linux. Many Linux distributions use resources times more effectively than Windows. However, you must be a more advanced user in order to install and use a Linux distribution. It is true that many Linux distributions look like Windows, but still the learning curve could be kind of steep.

Finally, one suggestion I certainly don’t endorse is to overclock your processor. Yes, you can get more speed when you overclock your processor but this is very risky, even if you know what you are doing, so just avoid it. The other ways to speed a PC you have at your disposal are much better than overclocking, so my honest advice is not to think of it at all!

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