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Speed Up Your Old PC: 4 Tips

Can't bear to part with that aged clunker on your desk? Give it a tune-up with these quick tips.

necessary programs when you boot up. This won't suddenly turn a six-year-old laptop into an instant-on machine, but by limiting the amount of tasks it needs to perform at startup, you can get to work sooner. Microsoft offers a simple primer on how to do this for Windows machines.

3. Schedule automated processes for off-peak times.
Similarly, older PCs sometimes get bogged down by automated processes that run at non-optimal times (like at startup). Security software is a good example. That XP box I mentioned earlier shuddered each time a full anti-malware scan ran at startup; I could have run a 5K race and been back at my desk before I'd be able to do anything else on that machine. Automated software updates are another example. Don't turn these tasks off, of course, but rather schedule them to run in the middle of the night or whenever you're not using the PC. Again, this isn't a cure-all, but it can help extend the life of an older machine.

4. Retune your expectations.
All the tinkering in the world isn't going to turn a "Dude, you're getting a Dell"-era PC (complete with Intel Pentium III processor) into a lightning-fast modern machine. I've got no plans to chuck my seven-year-old XP box in the dumpster, but I don't ask much of it these days.

Likewise, you don't need to ditch your older PC if it's still working for you. But if you want to keep 72 browser tabs open while listening to Pandora, downloading the first three seasons of Game of Thrones from iTunes, running the full Abode Creative Suite, video chatting with your friends, and editing your feature film debut? Dude, you're getting an upgrade -- or a heap-load of frustration.

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