One of the most common complaints I get is ‘My computer is running so much slower than it used to’. And the follow on, ‘What can I do about it?’.

Why does this happen? Well, every time you install a new program, chances are it will also install a another program to check for updates. So for instance your printer software will be phoning home to see whether there is anything it should be downloading, and whether the printer has enough ink.

The programs themselves are not large, but they take up space that the operating system and other programs would otherwise use. The less space in memory, the more the computer disk drive has to be used, and that slows things down. Stopping programs you don’t need from running at startup will help, just make sure they are not vital to the computer!

Without going into detail, the more a computer is used, the more likely it is that files will be split up to fill the available space on the hard disk. Most of the time this is dealt with automatically by Windows through a process called de-fragmenting. If not set to work automatically, running it manually may help speed things up. Apple computers work differently so shouldn’t have this problem.

But there are a couple of things you can do that, whilst not guaranteed, are very likely to speed up your computer.

Increase the amount of main memory. If you are trying to run Windows with 4Gb or less, increasing to 8Gb or above should make a differnce to the speed, but only if you are running a 64bit operating system. You’ll have to Google how to find out how to check, as that is beyond the scope of this article.

Another way of speeding things up is to install a SSD replacement hard disk if you have a standard hard disk. SSD disks use memory chips, and work much quicker than mechanical hard disks. In fact you may prolong the need to upgrade for several years by doing so.

In both cases http://uk.crucial.com/ is a good place to start as they have the facility to download a test program which will tell you what components will work with your computer. There are cheaper places to buy memory and SSD drives, but my experience with them so far has been good.