The Dell Inspiron is well-loved by users because of a winning combination of price and performance. However, once your Inspiron has been in use for a couple of years, you may find the speed isn't what it used to be, or that it doesn't have quite the level of power required to get the most out of the newest games or other programs. Perk your older Inspiron up by performing basic cleanup operations, then evaluating what activities on your computer are still slow.
Basic Computer Cleanup
Practice sound computer hygiene by uninstalling the programs you no longer use. Many programs installed on the computer run automatically when the computer boots up, running in the background even if not actively being used. This increases the amount of time required for Windows to boot up, and consumes memory while the computer is running. After uninstalling unused programs, run a disk cleanup program such as CCleaner. CCleaner is a free utility that scans the hard drive for unnecessary files and removes them. Often, it is able to reclaim several gigabytes of hard drive space. Defragment the hard drive to consolidate all of the files that remain on the fastest portion of the drive. Lastly, install and run a virus scanner or use an online scanner such as HouseCall. Suggested tools for disk cleanup, defragmentation and virus scanning are listed in Resources.
After performing basic cleanup operations on your Dell Inspiron, evaluate the performance of your computer to determine whether it is still slow. If it is, a hardware upgrade may be worth considering. Think about what you are doing with the computer that is not performing to your liking. For example, games rely heavily on the computer's video card in order to produce 3D graphics. Many desktop Inspiron computers utilize integrated graphics controllers, where the capabilities of a video card are condensed into a chip installed on the motherboard. Purchasing a standalone video card manufactured by ATI or NVIDIA will increase the performance of your games. If you are not a gamer and are dissatisfied by the general performance of Windows, consider upgrading the amount of memory (RAM) in your Inspiron.
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Many people spend the majority of their computer time on the Internet. If your computer isn't slow when you start it up, open programs, switch between windows or play games, it may actually be your Internet connection, rather than the computer itself, that is causing your computer to appear to perform poorly. If you are using a dial-up Internet connection and are in an area where cable and DSL are not available, look into a wireless broadband provider utilizing cellular or satellite technology. These forms of broadband can be significantly faster than dial-up, and are available in most areas of the country where cable and DSL cannot reach.
If you have a broadband connection already, but are using an older 802.11b wireless network, upgrade your router to one that is capable of using the faster 802.11g or n standards. The 802.11b standard is limited to a maximum speed of 11 megabits/second. This can be a bottleneck for the fastest broadband connections, which are capable of burst transfer rates exceeding 15 megabits/second. Note that the wireless adapter in your Inspiron must also be 802.11g or n-capable in order to take advantage of a faster wireless router.