Last week, my wife was working long hours combined with a long commute. Fortunately, there are only a handful of weeks like that a year. Unfortunately those weeks really stretch me thin with the two kids.
We had a leisurely Cinco de Mayo dinner on Friday at the local Navy base to recharge. When Saturday morning came around, everything around the house needed to be done. And we did everything. I don’t think I’ve ever rushed to be so productive.
By the evening, the productivity was contagious. My laptop had been very slow for a long time and arguably, it should be reasonably fast. It isn’t quite 2-years old. Admittedly, I cut a couple of corners for something thin-and-light and in-stock when I needed it. One of those corners was choosing a computer with 4GB of RAM. To get 8GB in the same Dell XPS form-factor, I’d have to spend at least 50% more and wait a few days longer.
That may have been a bad decision.
Problem 1: Trying To Do Too Much
I knew in the back of my mind that it wasn’t enough RAM to keep open 150 browser tabs… even with my browser speed-hacking tricks.
Obviously, keeping 150 browser tabs is a huge problem. I had been using my browser tabs to hold interesting articles that I might want to write about later. That’s just living up to my Lazy Man moniker.
The result? Trying to get anything done was a bear.
I’m now working in a comfortable 20 tabs. However, there’s still a lot of fat to trim. I can probably get it down to a 4 or 5 tabs that I use most often.
That alone made a big difference. No longer was my browser eating up nearly all my computer’s memory.
Problem 2: Low Disk Space
There was another problem slowing down my computer… I didn’t have enough hard drive space. I have a 128GB SSD, which I figured was enough because I could always off-load big media files to another source. Why spend another $400 to upgrade to 256GB when I can put this awesome low-profile thumb-drive in my USB slot for only $35? It gives me the same amount of space and I don’t even notice it is there.
So how did I use up 128GB of space on my main hard drive? I didn’t know, but I knew I needed to free some space.
This guide freeing up space on HowToGeek was helpful, but the best advice was to get WinDirStat. (I’ll let you Google it and trust that Google get you to a trusted source. Sometimes, I link to a place and a year later, that website leads to a bunch malware.)
WinDirStat gives you a map of your hard drive and you visually see what’s taking up all the space. Big blocks are big files and small blocks are small files.
I found a couple of clusters of big files. Bingo!
Ironically, these big files were archived FinCon videos and another online courses designed to make me more productive. Each folder had about about 12GB of files. There were a bunch of other one-off files that were huge as well.
It was easy enough to move these files to the aforementioned thumb drive. I was no longer struggling to free up 4GB of space, but I suddenly had 32GB.
There seems to be some debate that low disk space doesn’t slow down your computer. However, when I checked out my computer’s performance in the Task Manager, the disk process was at 99%. I suspect that my computer couldn’t use the paging file very efficiently and it was just fighting back and forth. Now, with plenty of space, I see it at 0% or 1%.
The combination of the two fixes has made my computer perform as if it is brand new again. The whole thing only took a couple of hours. (It could have been less if I hadn’t wasted time on a couple of dead-ends.)
I’m one of those people who will usually pay a little more for a computer than they need to. When my computer is zippy, I can work zippy. When my computer takes 30 seconds to load a web page, I’m going to drift off and get distracted easily.
I don’t know if these tips will work for you. I kind of hope that you aren’t in a situation where they’d be useful in the first place. However, it’s definitely worth looking into.