Is your laptop running slowly? It doesn’t matter if it’s old or new, Windows PC or Mac but using a slow laptop is not very pleasant.

If you are looking for ways to speed up your laptop by upgrading it with faster storage and RAM or by removing items that can slow you down, such as malware, viruses, and even antivirus apps, or you just want to optimize your laptop for optimal performance, then this is the place to start. We’ve put together these laptop performance tips that can breathe new life into your old laptop or make your new one really take off.

Malware, viruses and antivirus

Whether it’s adware, spyware, or a virus, malware can be the main cause of your computer slowing down.

Although the viruses adware trojans and spyware have unique elements that classify them, we will consider them all under the auspices of malware, since we do not want to see the spawning of evil demons on our laptops. Whether your laptop is Windows, Mac, or Linux, you should consider some form of anti-malware application as your first line of defense.

Illustration of a slow computer boot with ones and 0s behind it, representing a slow computer
filo / Getty Images

For Windows and Linux users, active antivirus applications that can scan your laptop both in the background and on demand are a good choice. For Mac users, an on-demand malware scanner may currently be the best choice as it doesn’t require resources except when it’s in use.

But don’t get carried away; one virus scanner is sufficient protection. Running more than one at the same time may result in a slow, unresponsive computer than looking for additional malware.

Too many apps open

Do you really need all these apps? A common cause of a laptop slowing down is a huge number of active applications. Each application consumes system resources including RAM, disk space (in the form of temporary files that are created), and CPU and GPU performance. And while apps running in the background may be out of sight, they still consume some of the limited resources your laptop .

But it’s not just about the number of apps you have open, it’s also about how you use the app. A good example is your web browser. How many tabs do you have open? Most web browsers use a sandbox technique to isolate each open window and tab from others. This means that you can treat each open browser tab or window as if it were an open separate browser application. See how quickly the number of «open applications» is increasing and how does this affect your laptop’s resources? Getting into the habit of closing apps you don’t use and only opening the ones you need is a good way to manage your laptop’s resources and performance.

  • Exit apps when you’re done with them.
  • Close browser tabs that you no longer need.

Element launch control

You should also consider preventing applications from automatically starting. All major operating systems allow you to configure applications to automatically launch when your computer boots. This can save you time as you don’t have to remember to run certain apps, but we often forget to uninstall even if we don’t use the app anymore. If nothing else, it’s a good idea to see what gets started.

  • Mac Users: remove unnecessary login items .
  • Windows users: prevent programs from loading on Windows startup .

Free up disk space

If your boot drive doesn’t have enough free space, you force your laptop to work hard to find the space it needs to house temporary files used by the system and apps (another reason to limit the number of apps). The system also allocates disk space for virtual memory, the operating system’s way of squeezing out extra RAM space by moving old data out of RAM onto a slower disk.

When space gets low, your laptop can slow down as operating system overhead increases as it tries to manage these storage tasks. You can reduce your overhead by making sure you always have enough free space on your laptop.

As a rule of thumb, leaving at least 10 to 15 percent free space will keep your laptop from experiencing extreme slowdowns due to storage issues. What’s more, you can ensure that you don’t run into any storage issues by leaving 25% or more free space available for the operating system to use as you see fit.

Windows includes a handy built-in disk cleanup utility .

If you need help with basic disk cleanup, use 9 free analyzer tools disk space.

Mac users will find more information at How much free disk space do I need on my Mac?

Is it worth it defragment your drives ? In general, no. Mac and Windows laptops are capable defragment disk space on the fly, if there is enough free space. Of course, you may have specific defragmentation needs, depending on the type of use your laptop is made of. Just remember: never defragment an SSD.

  • Keep plenty of free space on your startup drive.
  • Disk defragmentation may not be required.

Reduce visual effects

If you have a new laptop with the latest and greatest CPUs and GPUs, you may not need to cut back on some of the extra visuals that Mac and Windows operating systems seem to love.

But even if you don’t need to, you might still want to. Eliminating some of the visual effects of the OS can help improve overall performance by ensuring that the CPU and GPU aren’t doing useless work when you need to be productive with your CPUs.

Mac users will find that many visual effects are controlled in various system preference panes such as Dock and accessibility.

Windows has its own system property settings that affect performance. You can learn how to access and manipulate visual properties in our guide. Customize Visual Effects to Boost PC Speed .

In most cases, reducing visuals will result in a much more responsive user interface and keep resources available for applications that need them.

  • Reduce the graphic candy to a minimum.

Update RAM, disk, graphics and battery

So far, we’ve talked about managing performance by keeping fewer applications open, increasing free space on your boot drive by deleting files, and managing your laptop’s resources in general.

But what if you have an application that would be more efficient if it had a lot more RAM or disk space, or the latest GPU to work with? Or perhaps you would just get a lot more done with your laptop if it could last longer on a charge.

Depending on the laptop model, you can increase the overall performance by increasing the amount of installed RAM by switching to a faster or larger (or both) drive, upgrading the CPU or GPU, or even just replacing the battery to get some extra runtime gains.

Such updates can bring significant performance improvements usually at a lower cost than replacing a laptop. To find out if you can (or should) upgrade your laptop, check with the manufacturer and then find the best component upgrade prices.

Keep your software up to date

Last but not least, keeping your OS up to date can reduce the slowdown caused by bugs; it also helps by replacing system files that can get corrupted over time. The same applies to your applications.

Use Windows update, to stay informed, or Mac App Store to update your Mac .

  • Keep your operating system and applications up to date. If it’s convenient for you, many systems and apps offer automatic updates so you don’t even have to forget to do anything to stay up to date.

This can’t be your car.

If none of these tips seem to work, or only certain processes on your computer are running slowly, consider other options such as Internet performance improvement . The problem may not be with your computer.

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