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Computers are machines that over time may start to show signs of aging and slow down. This is especially the case for the computers and laptops that are not managed regularly or have no regular scheduled maintenance and updates. So what do we do to prevent it from performing at a turtle pace, specially when we need it to perform at its best?

We gathered these five easy ways to help keep your computer from slowing down:

1. Don’t let anything start automatically

There are a lot of programs out there which offer the option to start as soon as your Windows or Mac OS fires up. This means faster time for your most used programs to load up when you need them and is therefore actually a good option. But this also means that your computer will take a bit more time to boot and function.

You can easily check yourself what programs you have on auto-start alongside your OS. Just click on the Startup tab of the Task Manager on Windows (right-click on the task bar to launch it), or Users & Groups in System Preferneces on Mac (look under the Login Items tab).

Sure, the auto-starting option is a good feature specially for applications you want to always have handy but make sure to keep this list to a minimum. You may need to do some trial and error to work out which applications eats up most of your system resource. Once you’ve figured this out, you should be able to see the benefit on your computer’s overall performance.

2. Update everything regularly

I know this will seem a pain to do but it’s one of the first things that IT experts look at before doing any troubleshooting. Updating software and firmware is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy system.

Updating your software and firmware tackles the following:

  • It patches security bugs

  • It (usually optimizes the code

  • It adds new features

  • It improves compatibility with other hardware and software in your system

Keeping everything updated is important to avoid slowdowns and crashes, which is why there are a lot of applications now that auto-update in the background.

You can find the update settings on Windows behind the Update & security entry on the main Settings dialog (accessible from the Start menu) and on Mac OS, check the App Store and click on the Updates tab to see what’s available.

3. Keep programs and extensions to a minimum

It’s usually the desktop applications and browser extensions that are the main reasons for computers to start slowing down. When your OS has a lot of them to deal with, the more system resources it exhausts to work them.

Make sure that before installing anything new, ask yourself if you really need them. Try and find alternate ways to access them like through a web portal version or from a USB stick. For those applications and browser extensions that you really need, make sure your cleaning them up and evaluating regularly for what you still need. If they are just sitting there gathering dust, uninstall them immediately.

It is always good to keep as much storage space free as possible. When you start running out of hard drive space, you’ll soon feel your computer slowing down.

4. Make computer security a top priority

For privacy reasons, this is a must and cannot be compromised. But keeping all your data private isn’t the only thing a good system security does for you. Malware apps that sneak to your system causes system slowdowns. The browser extensions that are sitting there also gather advertising data and dodgy utilities that are bundled with genuinely useful software can cause sluggishness to your computer. So be very selective of what you allow to have space in your hard drive.

Unwanted malware and adware can install itself so this is where a competent security package will come in really handy. You can opt for free security software but it’s highly recommended to spend a few more dollars for the more professional one. You don’t have to pick the best out of all of them with all the features, just pick the right package that answers to all your needs and this will prove a good investment for you.

5. Refresh, reset, repeat

In addition to updating software regularly, it is good to also reset your computer back to its factory state on a regular basis. This gives significant performance boosts to your computer.

Don’t worry about losing data and getting everything reformatted when you do this as that’s all in the past. The most recent version of Windows 10 and Mac OS Sierra make the whole process more straightforward. You can reset your entire system without losing any personal data.

On Windows, go to Update & security in Settings to get started and follow this guide. On a Mac, find the Desk Utility tool by rebooting your computer and holding down Cmd+R as it boots up again and follow this guide.

But of course, still make sure you have got backups of all your important stuff and that you can easily download and reinstall software you need if necessary. These small inconvenience aside, this is like spring cleaning your system and just putting everything back in its place again, and you should stop experiencing slowness again.