Some of the products written about here are offered in affiliation with AOL. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.
A new year is underway and that means it's time to get back into a groove with work too— and you certainly don't want your computer to creep along at a snail's pace. Yet, it can seem after months of video calls, streaming the newest binge-worthy shows, or scrolling through social media to watch puppy videos, your device has thrown up the white flag of defeat.
If your system has slowed down, here are six ways to tidy up — and help speed up — your computer, so you can get back to work. Or puppy videos. We're not here to judge.
Step #1: Delete unused apps and programs
Unused programs take up valuable storage space. Delete anything you haven't used in more than six months. While you're at it, uninstall unnecessary add‑ons such as toolbars, plug‑ins, and extensions.
Step #2: Get antivirus software
Antivirus software like System Mechanic helps improve computer performance by identifying and troubleshooting the root causes of your device's troubles. The software helps clear out the junk from your computer, fixes unstable WiFi connections, and frees up storage space so your computer functions almost like new.
System Mechanic can also help protect you from cybercriminals. Hackers, for example, can deploy malware, which includes viruses, spyware, adware, trojans, and more. "The most common method of hacking is scam texts, emails or social media messages, where hackers disguise themselves as a trusted person or brand so they can steal personal details," Catherine Hiley, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, tells AOL. "Clicking unfamiliar links in these messages can give criminals access to your identity, passwords, [and] bank details to name a few. And with this information, hackers are able to exploit their victims."
Antivirus programs like System Mechanic can help protect you by scanning files before you open them and detecting malicious code when it tries to run. What's more, System Mechanic will remove infected files and block access to dangerous websites.
Step #3: Add more RAM to your hardware
RAM is a temporary memory used by your computer's operating system and helps your programs run smoothly. As you use more programs, your computer will need more RAM. Otherwise, your computer will become sluggish due to a lack of RAM. Focus Data Systems recommends boosting your RAM with extra memory sticks as an easy fix, or you could replace your existing RAM, if that is necessary.
Step #4: Install a bookmark or tab management browser extension
Raise your hand if you're guilty of having a million tabs open. Yeah, we thought so. Keeping tons of tabs open at the same time can significantly slow your system. Use a tab management extension to help organize tabs into groups that make sense to you. They allow you to quickly find what you're looking for without slowing down your computer.
Step #5: Clean your (virtual) cookie jar
Cookies are small text files stored on your hard drive, which contain data such as login details, shopping preferences, and other personal information. Clearing cookies can help speed up your device.
Step #6: Update your software and programs
Your operating system needs regular updates to keep pace with new threats. Most apps also require periodic upgrades to stay secure. Keep track of updates for your system, and make sure to install them in a timely manner.