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You’ve had your computer for some time now and it’s been a match made in paradise. That is, until you noticed that your computer no longer runs like it used to. What took a couple of seconds to load now takes a couple of minutes, and you need a change.
I have good news and bad news. The good news is, it’s surprisingly easy to speed up your PC. The bad news? It takes a while to wade through the false methods and cheap tricks found online before achieving actual results.
Plenty of online resources promise to speed up and boost your computer speed. Unfortunately, these product rarely if ever have an effect on PC performance. Use this list to scope out the real from the fake!
1. Performance / Gaming Optimizers
Countless software packages considered optimizers or boosters promise to optimize your PC for gaming or general use. Unfortunately, they will rarely if ever provide a performance boost.
The main issue with PC boosters are their methods of “boosting your computer”. Instead of overclocking your hardware or optimizing your RAM usage, boosters only shut down background processes and services. That’s it. Furthermore, they may drag down performance by running in the background themselves.
Do This Instead
Task Manager provides the same functionality as performance boosters without the need of a third-party application. Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC on your keyboard to open Task Manager. Click on the CPU tab to order the programs by % of CPU usage. Then right-click any unnecessary running programs and click End task. Programs like Microsoft Autoruns will give you even more control over your running processes.
Afterward, select the Startup tab and begin disabling unnecessary programs. This will prevent nagging startup programs from hindering PC performance. Then, configure the services running on your computer. Press WIN KEY + R on your keyboard and enter msconfig into the prompt. Select the Services tab in the System Configuration window and check Hide all Microsoft entries. Go over the entries list and uncheck unnecessary programs like toolbars and background scanners. Apply the settings and restart your PC.
You can also use task manager to set program priorities as well, which boosts program performance. Right-click an item from the list and select Go to details. Right-click the item again and Set priority to Above normal or High.
2. PC Cleaners
PC cleaners differ from PC boosters. PC boosters stop certain processes on your computer. PC cleaners promise to clean your registry, delete your Internet cache, and free up disk space — all methods that do not contribute to computer speed.
PC cleaners typically wipe three key areas: browser caches, browser history, and your recycle bin.
Temporary Internet files and browser history accumulate from browsing the Internet. Over time, you could develop several GBs of these files on your hard drive. Cleaning these files may seem useful, but will not contribute to PC or website load speeds, unless you’re running out of space on your system drive.
Browsers caches actually work to load pages faster, so this process may end up making slow Internet connection issues worse.
Do This Instead
CCleaner is a popular and highly regarded cleaning application which will clean your PC as much as any other PC cleaner on the market for free. Run the cleaner to delete temp files, browser history, Internet caches, and more.
If you aren’t satisfied with CCleaner’s cleaning performance, try installing the CCEnhancer addon. CCEnhancer is a CCleaner addon which adds functionality to the original CCleaner. It allows users to clean program caches and system folders otherwise inaccessible to CCleaner. If you are unsure of what you are cleaning, uncheck the paths located on the left-hand side of the window to prevent issues.
To clear your browser caches individually, follow the instructions below.
- Firefox: Menu > History > Clear Recent History. Change Time range to clear to Everything and select Clear Now.
- Chrome: CTRL + H > Clear browsing data. Change Obliterate the following items from to the beginning of time and select Clear browsing data.
- Opera: Menu > History > Clear browsing data. Change Obliterate the following items from to the beginning of time and select Clear Browing data.
- Internet Explorer: Settings > Internet Options > Browsing history > Delete. Select your settings, preferably all of them, and select Delete.
- Microsoft Edge: Menu > Settings > Clear browing data > Choose what to clear. Select your settings, preferably all of them, and select Clear.
This covers most of what PC cleaners do, and you won’t receive any annoying popups on your computer.
3. CPU Core Unparking
CPU core unparking promises to boost FPS and decrease latency in PC games. It’s a relatively rare process, so it’s surprising to see a program like CPUCores in the Steam Store.
CPU cores, by default, “park” or become inactive when not in use. That means certain cores will stop functioning to save power. When your computer is under heavy use, your CPU cores unpark automatically. Certain programs also allow users to unpark their cores in case their PC ‘forgets’. To charge for this service is selling snake oil to unsuspecting victims.
Core unparking, as a practice, fluctuates in utility. Some swear by a 10-20 FPS gain in their games, while others claim results from core unparking are negligable. In any case, core parking and unparking will not harm your PC if you’re in an experimental mood.
Furthermore, core parking is a feature more notably occurring in Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2. It’s rumored to have been deactivated for Windows 8, 8.1, and 10, though not much official documentation exists on the subject.
Do This Instead
Unparking cores reserves power, so you can achieve the same general effect by changing the power options on your PC. You can access your power options in your Control Panel by using the Windows key + X keyboard shortcut. Open System Security and then Power Options to customize your power plan. Choose High performance and you should be set. This setting won’t lower CPU speeds when idle, simulating the process of core unparking.
Alternatively, you can use the free application CPU Core Parking Manager to unpark your cores. Download and follow the instruction on the Coderbag website to achieve the desired effect.
4. RAM Drives
RAM drive software allows you to store programs on your RAM modules and turns your sticks into actual drives.
Storing programs on your RAM can be problematic. For one, RAM is much more expensive — per GB of space — than both hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs). RAM is also an example of volatile storage, which erases its contents every time you shut the PC down.
Even a fix-all solution like the Dimmdrive — available on Steam — has several issues. Dimmdrive runs software from your RAM module and speeds up program loading times. Yet, running your entire Steam library off of your RAM modules is next to impossible when you consider the cost and motherboard space required. Also, this program will not run games faster or at a higher quality as that’s the job of your graphics processing unit (GPU).
Do This Instead
A 32 GB RAM kit will cost ~$120, four RAM slots, and a motherboard capable of utilizing 32 GBs of RAM, all without including the cost off Dimmdrive.
A 32 GB SSD, on the other hand, costs ~$50 and a SATA connection.
Both provide similar loading speeds and only the SSD works as a regular HDD would. Save the money you would have spent buying a Dimmdrive and invest it in an SSD. You won’t regret it.
ReadyBoost is a Windows feature that turns your regular flash drive into a hard drive cache to improve disk read performance. ReadyBoost works alongside SuperFetch — a memory manager which pre-loads certain program files on your hard drive for quicker access. Flash memory speeds are faster than mechanical hard disk drive (HDD) speeds. For this reason, ReadyBoost should theoretically help programs run faster on your PC with the assistance of your flash drive. But only if your system is installed on a HDD.
Although ReadyBoost will affect the performance of older and RAM starved PCs, most computers do not benefit from the program. The main issue with ReadyBoost is that RAM does what ReadyBoost can do at a larger and faster capacity. Furthermore, you can only write data on a flash drive so many times before the flash drive fails. If you activate ReadyBoost with your flash drive, you may be sacrificing the drive for no tangible reason.
Do This Instead
Modern computers only requires 8 GBs of RAM to run intensive games and programs. Increasing RAM capacity by a few gigabytes will have a larger effect than using ReadyBoost and save your flash drive from failure. If a RAM upgrade doesn’t speed up your PC, look to speed it up elsewhere.
In the past, I’ve tried every trick on the market to squeeze as much juice as I could from my PC. But some options just won’t work. Programs that promise to speed up your computer with a single click sound too good to be true because they are.
You should never have to settle for a slow computer, and there are methods to speed up and optimize your PC for heavy use. You don’t have to settle for the various forms of snake oil online.
Which of the snake oil tactics described above have you seen? Would you add any other to the list? Let us know in the comments below!