Is there anything quite so painful as waiting for a really slow computer to boot up, open a programme, or finally stop buffering so you can actually watch the episode on Netflix that has been loading for 20 minutes?

When your computer runs slowly, you’ll be tempted to get rid of it entirely – but we’ve got a couple of better ideas.

Here are a few tips, tricks and solutions you can use to get your computer running like new again.

What’s slowing your computer?

When it comes to technology, we tend to overthink problems without looking for the simple fix first. The same goes for your machine, no matter how young or old it is.

If you can’t think of the last time that you restarted your computer – for example, if you simply put it on sleep mode or leave it running all the time – give it a fresh reboot. It’s an easy but effective trick that gives every programme a chance to reload a fresh version.

Don’t forget to check for and install the latest patches. When it comes to your operating system, Windows™ users can type ‘Check for updates’ in the bottom left hand search bar to see if their computers are up to date. Mac® users can go to the iTunes store to download the latest version.

Similar to restarting your computer, make sure you don’t have any software running in the background that you aren’t currently using as these programmes can slow your computer down considerably by leeching speed away from other files.

Turn off as many notifications as possible too, as having too many processes running in the background can seriously slow your machine down.

Finally, if you want maximum performance, you’ll need to switch off power-saving mode. This intentionally slows things down to give your device the longest battery life possible – but you can always just put it on charge.

Getting more technical with your computer’s speed

If your computer is still slow after accomplishing all the basics, it’s time to turn things up a notch. These tips may require a bit of technical know-how, but the result will be well worth the time it takes.

Start by opening up your task manager. It can be found on Windows by searching for it in the bottom left hand of your screen, or on Mac by pressing the command and spacebar keys simultaneously.

In there, you’ll find the list of all the programmes that are running on the computer in the background. Take the time to search through and figure out what each item does – a simple Google search will get you a quick answer – and cancel or disable it if it’s unnecessary. Also consider scaling back on the number of files that open up when you start your computer.

Then, you’ll want to clean up your hard drive. This sounds more difficult than it is. Mac users have it easy enough – simply exit out of everything, open your ‘Applications’ folder and start deleting files you don’t use anymore. On Windows, searching for ‘Add or remove programmes’ will bring you to a spot where you can do the same.

Over time, computers have thousands or millions of files downloaded, moved around and deleted. There’s always a few stragglers left behind and they can hinder the machine’s performance. Using a disk defragmenter programme can clean your device for you, and all you have to do is download it and click a button. Windows’ preinstalled ‘Disk clean-up’ programme achieves a similar outcome, and you can find that by searching for it.

If you’re having trouble playing your favourite game online, consider physically upgrading your computer with a new graphics card, processor or RAM, or getting a better internet connection by plugging in the ethernet cable instead of relying on Wi-Fi.

Don’t forget to check if you have a virus or malicious software (malware) installed on your computer by running your security suite. While they don’t normally have the goal of slowing things down, it could be an additional effect of a cyberattack.

How to speed up your computer

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many tricks you try, you’ll still need a little help speeding up your computer. That’s where computer utility and tune-up programmes come in handy.

Utility programmes are platforms that contain a variety of solutions with the sole goal of keeping your computer running as fast as possible. In fact, it often automatically and routinely does many of the technical tips that some users try to do to speed up their device. By regularly deleting unused files, fixing problems that users commonly come across and offering a one-click answer for computer optimisation, they’re an easy choice for many computer owners.

Then there are the times where you have to face the facts: your computer is old. But that doesn’t mean you have to empty your current account to get a new one. Tune-up programmes are designed to optimise your machine and get it back to running like it was when you first plugged it in. They’re a cost-effective solution that can have an immediate impact while you figure out if you really need to upgrade.

Remember: if your computer is running slowly, it’s likely there’s a fixable problem behind it. Keep searching until you find the solution as there may still be life in the old dog!