When it comes to computers, the need for speed is high these days. Facebookers need a PC that can keep up with their hyperactive status updates, gamers depend on rapid fire, and professionals don’t have time to waste when the boss needed that report yesterday.

If you’re one of millions asking yourself, “How can I speed up my computer?”, it’s helpful to understand why computers run out of steam. A fragmented hard drive, low disk space, too many applications, low memory, and old age are the most common causes of low computer speed.

There are plenty of options for rejuvenating your PC without spending lots of money. Defragmenting is the best place to start, and your computer probably has a built-in utility for this. A good rule of thumb is to run your defragmenter when you: add lots of files, install new programs or have 15% or less disk space. After running your defragmenter, give your hard drive a once-over for spyware, adware or other malware that may have crept in while you were downloading your favorite songs.

Remember: more space, more speed! Remove temporary internet files, empty your Recycle Bin, delete programs you don’t use, and tidy up your desktop – those little icons use up more of your computer’s energy than you think. Also, download a registry cleaner. This will de-clutter your PC’s “junk drawer”, or the place where it squirrels away information about everything its ever done.

Sanitizing your computer should speed it up. If not, you may want to add more RAM. Older computers typically don’t meet current memory standards, so if your PC is over a year old, it may need a pick-me-up.

If you’re still not up to speed, you might consider purchasing a new computer – a last resort that may be costly, but will certainly save you money, time – and sanity – in the long run.

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