Your computer is sluggish, but you’re not even doing much. Here are five processes you can end right now for a faster, smoother experience. You can thank me later.
Sometimes you need to go further to speed up your PC, especially if it's older. These tricks each take about 60 seconds.
Follow those steps, and you'll clean up some junk, but what about when you install new games, apps, or other software?
Developers have a sneaky way of getting you to install extra stuff you don’t need but make them money. They will disclose this in the program's terms and conditions, but no one reads it. I’ll show you how to catch them in the act.
Tricks to make money off you
Developers often include additional software or files with their applications or software installation packages. Some of these extras include:
- Adware: This software displays unwanted advertisements on your device, usually pop-ups or banners.
- Toolbars: Toolbars are browser add-ons that often come bundled with the software. They typically add extra features or shortcuts to the browser but can also slow down the browser or collect your data.
- Browser extensions: These are like toolbars but are more integrated into the browser and can provide additional features.
- Trial software: Some software packages may include a trial version of another software program, hoping you’ll eventually purchase the full version.
- Bloatware: This software is unnecessary for you to use the program, but it is included anyway, often to provide additional functionality you probably don’t need.
- Tracking software: Some software may include tracking software that collects data on your behavior, such as browsing history, search queries, or other personal information.
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MAINE, USA - APRIL 12: Molly White, 28, a software engineer and self-described crypto critic, sits for a portrait in Maine while on sabbatical on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. White, a long-time Wikipedia editor, created a website and Twitter account, Web3 Is Going Great, which chronicles the myriad of scams, grifts, abuses, missteps, and failures amidst the current crypto and Web3 boom, which serves as a stream of cautionary accounts and perspective for people interested in these technologies. (Tristan Spinski for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
When installing software, you may see different installation options, like express, recommended, and custom install. The latter may be labeled advanced install for advanced users.
Don’t take the express lane
Since many people don't consider themselves "advanced" users, they'll choose the simple or recommended option. Makes sense. Let the program do all the work, right?
Not so fast. Express installations often include a few or all the items listed above.
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Some programs change your default settings, browser, homepage, or search engine. You won’t have the option to say no thanks in the express or default installation.
Finally, express installations can opt you into data collection, sync your contacts, or include some other invasion of privacy. Yikes. While you may be able to change these settings later, it’s better to decline during the installation phase.
Do this next time you install software
Always go with the custom or advanced option. Aside from choosing a destination folder or drive, you may have the option to uncheck boxes for optional software and settings you don’t want or need.
Read everything carefully and tick off the boxes as needed. Don’t worry about messing anything up — the installer will include the necessary files to run the program no matter what you choose. It just won’t have the extras you don’t need or want.
Have a greater need for speed? Here’s a tip for cleaning up your PC or Mac.
Look for portable apps
For smaller, simpler apps, you may have the option to download a portable version. This type of app doesn’t use an installer. All the files required to run the portable app reside in a single folder, which you can put anywhere on your system.
Rather than installing a portable app, you typically download it as a ZIP file, extract it to a folder, and run the executable file for the app. They’re generally safe to download if you trust the source.
Instagram app shown on an iPhone home screen. (CyberGuy.com)
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