Here’s how to tell which course of action is the best for you.Will an Upgrade Help?What’s the thing that bugs you the most? Is it the fact that programs take a while to load? Or that it takes forever to boot your desktop?
Does your PC start out fine but slows down once you’ve been using it for a while? If that’s the case you should be able to upgrade a component or two and get on with your life.
Hard drive. If your system is slow starting up, slow performing day-to-day tasks, and slow shutting down, it’s possible that your hard drive is full and needs paring down.
Luckily, there’s a quick and free fix for this. Uninstall programs you no longer use, delete extraneous video files, and if you’re using Windows try running Disk Cleanup. This should release at least a few gigabytes, but it’s better still if you have at least 33 percent of your hard drive’s capacity free (e.g. 80GB on a 250GB drive).
This will probably just be a temporary fix, however you’ll definitely want to upgrade to a larger drive. If you’re not up to installing a new one inside your computer, buy an external USB 3.0 drive, move all your music, photo, and video files to it, and you should be okay.
Memory., Back in the old days of computing, when systems topped out at 128KB of memory, you had to quit out of a program to open a new one. Now multitasking is the norm. Most four-year-old PCs came with at least 2GB of memory, with 4GB or 8GB being even better, especially when you consider that you can watch Web video in the background while doing something else like webpage layout in another window.
Your computer’s workload is compounded when you don’t close tabs in your browser and you end up with 150 open tabs at once. Even if you have to “throw away” your existing desktop memory because of a shortage of slots, 8GB of memory shouldn’t cost more than $60-80.
Installing memory is simple: If you can build an IKEA bookshelf, installing memory in a desktop PC should be a walk in the park. Read our story “How to Install Desktop Memory” for a full primer.SSD.
Solid-state drives (SSDs) are based on flash memory rather than the platters of traditional hard drives, and reap speed benefits that may make you think you have a new PC under your desk.
Installing an SSD is like installing any new hard drive: Find a free SATA port on the motherboard, connect the SATA data and power cables to the new drive, secure the drive in a free drive bay, and install the operating system on it. An SSD is so small that you can slip it into any drive bay with an adapter, even the one that was made to hold floppy drives.
In a worst-case scenario where you have no free drive bays, you can double-stick tape the SSD to the side panel or zip-tie it to anywhere there’s any room in the chassis. The fact that you’re installing a new OS from scratch (free from resource-sapping bloatware) will help your performance, but the SSD’s inherent speed will make you a believer the first time your system boots up in less than 20 seconds.
The time it takes to launch apps should drop from a minute to a few seconds. SSDs start at about $100 for a decent-size one (128GB), with 512GB drives going for a few hundred dollars more. Again, the level of difficulty is relatively low, if you’re comfortable turning a screwdriver.