Tuesday, 16 June 2015

RAMping Up My Laptop Performance on the Cheap with a RAM Upgrade (and Other Tweaks)

Something a little different for the Dividend Drive here. I am sure we have all suffered from this occasionally. A ridiculously slow computer.

I have now had this computer since 2011 (an "out of box" bargain!). I tend to buy good quality, relatively expensive computers and then use them for a long time.

"Lenny" as I call it--no extra marks for guessing it is a Lenovo (a ThinkPad no less)--has done fantastic service over the years. It has usually been on from 9am through to at least 5pm each and every day.

It has gigabytes of music, photos and other files littered throughout both from my personal and professional life. Despite this it has, in general, performed each of the tasks I have asked of it with aplomb.

I have kept it well maintained. I often clean the cache, occasionally de-fragment the hard drive, periodically do a quick cull of programmes and files I no longer use. And, a bit less frequently, give it a thorough clean out of dust and other nasties.

However, recently it has slowed down quite a bit especially when handling multiple tabs in Google Chrome or when asked to combine a bit of MS Word, internet and iTunes activity. Unfortunately, this amounts to the bulk of what I get up to on the computer.

So what to do?

What To Do? The Hardware Response

To be honest, at first after over four years I was tempted to think: "Time to buy a new machine, I think". But I decided not to. After all, in general it is still in rude health.

So, I thought, instead of having to root around for another £500 to £850 to pay for a new machine I went for a quick £58 upgrade and a few free tweaks to help enhance the performance.

Needless to say. Many of you have probably fathomed that I upgraded my RAM with that £58. For most of you this will probably be nothing new. It is pretty common knowledge that a RAM upgrade is a very cost-effective way of improving performance (getting a quicker hard drive is another).

So has it worked?

In short, yes. I have only had the new RAM installed for a few weeks. But already it feels a lot more sprightly.

Whereas before I could count on my hand (quite literally) how long it took to change from one tab or programme to another. Now I don't even have time to raise my hand for the count before it has done what I asked.

I think that is a flat out win. It's speed has been particularly felt when using iTunes, MS Outlook, image manipulation programmes and more.

Google Chrome Settings and Other Tweaks

And, also, as I had hoped it has helped with Google Chrome.

However, I should note I have also made other tweaks--completely free, I may add--which have helped in this last regard.

For instance, Chrome has recently started to complicate matters a little. Some of these decisions needed to be reverse.

  1. Disable any unused extensions--Extensions in Chrome are excellent. But some I just don't use anymore yet they slowed things down. So I just popped into Chrome Settings > Extensions > and deselected "enabled" for a couple of extension I rarely, if ever, used. Easy peasy.
  2. Giving Chrome some down time--Another new thing is that the default setting for Chrome is to allow apps to continue running after Chrome is closed. This means that, if you go into Task Manager, you see (even when Chrome is closed) chrome.exe processes still running. It was annoying and sometimes meant that Chrome had problems opening. What to do? Stop it altogether. All I did was go into the Chrome Settings > Show Advanced Settings > and under the System Settings tab deselected "Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed."

I also did a couple of other things. I stopped MS OneNote starting with the computer and quietly thinking in the background.

I also did the same with some of my cloud storage accounts. My main one is through Dropbox. But I also have accounts with Copy and Google Drive. These last two are used infrequently. So I simply told them to be quiet unless I need them rather than constantly being at my heel asking if I need their help.

In Conclusion

All in all, this has had a great effect on my machine. If not as sprightly as when it was new (what computer would be after four years hard use!) it is fast enough for me to get my tasks done--and done swiftly. What more could I want?

And it only cost £58 (and a lot less time and hassle). What is more, assuming I can sell my old RAM--which, I may add, is all fine--the financial cost will be reduced even further. All good!

So, things are looking good. Me and "Lenny" are back on good terms. Here's to another four years together! 

You never know, by the time it is time for the old machine to retire I may be earning enough dividend income in a single month to replace him. Stranger things have happened.

You Have Any Tips?

I am sure many of you have had similar speed problems in the past. Did you do anything else to help ramp up performance a little? I would be fascinated to hear your suggestions.

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[Creative Commons image reproduced from Flickr user Chris Isherwood]


  1. Well done on sorting out the issues with your pc quickly and cheaply.

    I've had my pc since 2010 and it's a custom-built gaming machine. I still game on it (though not as often as I used to) but after all this time, it still runs pretty quickly.

    My issue is not of speed - it's space I guess - sometimes, I wish I just had a little laptop that I could just carry about with me from room to room, instead of a big tower of a pc!

    But that's a 'want', not a 'need' - I can do what I need to do with my pc and live with it taking up space in my house!

    When it's finally on its dying legs, finding a replacement will become a need!

    1. Thanks, weenie. I was pretty happy with the deal myself, In many ways a fresh machine after all this time may have been appealing but this one is still fine all told!

      I have to admit to having a few laptop computers. My main one which operates--effectively--as a desktop, a smaller X series Lenovo which I use when travelling and one given to me by work (which, inevitably, is useless).

      I don't suspect I will ever only have one laptop for practical reasons. Having a desktop one and a travel one makes sense in that they have different specs to suit their use and if the travel one is ever stolen it is not such a traumatic experience. Indeed, the same applies if one breaks--I have a spare!

      A laptop is--nowadays--all you really need. Some have so much grunt anyway that unless you really need a heavy-duty machine it can easily handle your needs! That being said, desktops are much easier to fully revamp rather than just tinker with the edges (like with the RAM).