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Need to speed up this bogged down laptop

I have a friend bringing over his laptop so I can clean it out and speed it up a bit, I work in an imaging lab and usually we simply reimage the thing and reload the personal data/applications. However in this scenario it's a laptop used for music studio work and has lots of software/plugins that would be a nightmare to reload.

What's a few good methods to speed up a computer bogged down from general use without reloading the OS?
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End-user support
One option: Upgrade the drive to SSD
EirmanChief Operations Manager
The most important thing you can do is to stop unwanted programs and processes starting and running in the background.
dbruntonQuid, Me Anxius Sum?  Illegitimi non carborundum.
Run the free version of CCleaner https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download on it to clean out files.

Run the free version of Defraggler https://www.piriform.com/defraggler/download

Run a good anti-virus over the system.  I'd try Adwcleaner http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/adwcleaner/, Malware Bytes https://www.malwarebytes.org/, Hitman Pro http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/hitmanpro/ in that order and then vary the order.  Quite possibly if it is slowing down it is full of adware or malware.
EirmanChief Operations Manager
This is a good guide to "stopping unwanted programs and processes"

Stop all programs (even anti-virus & windows) from automatically updating (scanning).
Perform manual updates (including virus scans) regularly.

How much memory does the laptop have?
Increasing it can make a big difference.
Howard AllenSystems Engineer


It currently has 4gbs of RAM, I'm going to be upgrading it to 8gb.
EirmanChief Operations Manager
It currently has 4gbs of RAM, I'm going to be upgrading it to 8gb.
Good idea (assuming you have 64bit Windows)

Use the SPD tab of this freeware to make sure you buy the correct memory.
Distinguished Expert 2019
what i do is :
1- uninstall all old, or not needed software + TOOLBARS from control panel>add/remove software
2- look at installed "crapware" (from Dell, HP or other brands) and remove when possible
3- then run AV scan + these :

http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php                         MBAM
http://majorgeeks.com/RogueKiller_d6983.html                  Roguekiller

however - in such a case, i recommend another option as best :
once you do a clean install (after backup) + drivers, UpdatesApplicattions and settings
let user test - when ok :
THEN make an image of the drive - to be restored when later problems arise
Danny ChildIT Manager
run the full Windows Update, including all Optional updates - you often get driver updates this way.  

I'd also get an image of it FIRST before you make any changes, in case it all goes pear-shaped...  I'd also get some timings from it (time to boot to editing program, etc) so you can see how well you're doing.  

Black Viper's site has some good optimisation routines if you really want to go to town on it.
"it's a laptop used for music studio work"

Ideally this computer should be as "standalone" as is possible.  It should not be accessing the Internet while being used for this purpose, so the first thing you want to do is disable Wi-Fi and all automatic update checks that are made by installed software and by Windows itself (i.e. Windows Update).  All non-essential "Services" should be disabled.  Software update checks should be run manually at periodic intervals when connected to the Internet.

It will obviously be more difficult to do all of this if the laptop is also used for general Internet browsing, email, etc, because many of the running processes that you would want to disable if solely used for music production may be needed for everyday computer use.

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software like Cakewalk, Reason, Steinberg Cubase, Abelton, and so on, usually perform regular update checks.  Go into the software's user settings and disable automatic updates.  Unfortunately some music production software plugins like audio effects need Internet access to work.

If the laptop is never connected to the Internet or to a network, is never used to read emails, to share or download files using peer to peer or FTP connections, etc, then real-time antivirus scanning would probably not be required and could slow down or interrupt audio production processes.  Remember that viruses can still be transferred by USB Flash Drives and other removable media, so it would still be wise to have updated antivirus software to manually scan removable media and files before transferring them onto the laptop.

I think it is important to establish exactly what the owner uses this laptop for.  If it is a general everyday computer used for all the usual things PLUS audio production, then you will have a much harder job speeding it up than if it is used solely for recording and producing music.
Top Expert 2009

I've requested that this question be deleted for the following reason:

Not enough information to confirm an answer.
"Not enough information to confirm an answer."

On the contrary there have been some good suggestions here which, if followed, would have certainly helped to "speed up a computer bogged down from general use without reloading the OS".

I suggest the following forced accepts.

Accepted Answer

Eirman: 40631316

Assisted Answers (points split):

NewVillageIT: 40631177
dbrunton: 40631307
nobus: 40632516
DanCh99: 40632790
BillDL: 40636878
EirmanChief Operations Manager

BillDL said:
There have been some good suggestions here which, if followed, would have certainly helped to "speed up a computer bogged down from general use without reloading the OS".
I agree.
Distinguished Expert 2019

askers that walk away should be flamed...
I get angry too, but maybe that just a bit extreme.  Sometimes there may be extenuating circumstances, like illness, that mean people cannot return to the question.  All the questions apart from this one and one that was asked after this (now abandoned too) have been "solved" with "A" grades, so maybe there is a good reason.
Distinguished Expert 2019

i agree Bill, withing reason that's ok
Thank you howardallenIT, or whoever closed the question.