Brand new technology is peeking at your door every 6 months. Instead of trashing your "old" set up and spending thousands of dollars on the nice and shinny new computer, you can try these easy steps to make things fly. At least for a while. Assuming that you did follow Gregory's post on how to speed up your internet, this could be your next step for a better computer experience.
1.- Add more RAM.
How much RAM should you add? How much can you afford? RAM prices are at an all time low: now you can get 8GB Kit of 240-Pin DDr3 SDRAM for $99. You should go for as much as the system supports. You will see an immediate boost in opening (and keeping open) applications and overall performance peak while working on them. RAM intensive applications (like CS5) will thank you for this upgrade.
2.- Add a new Video Card.
Maybe your current computer doesn't support bigger and better displays. You can add a powerful video card that not only supports maximum resolution on the panels; but also will make possible the addition of a second monitor. For example, this Nvidia Geo Force 9500GT is only $59.99.
3.- Add a faster Hard Drive.
The faster your hard drive spins, the less lag you are going to experience moving files around your desktop and modifying huge media files. 10,000 RPMs are the best for this kind of job, but 7200 RPMs will give you plenty for $39.99.
4.- Add a secondary SSD drive.
If you are blessed with an enclosure that has an extra bay for an additional hard drive, you may add an SSD (Solid State Drive) to the mix. Prices are still a bit expensive for larger capacity units but you can get a 120 GB SSD for $229. Then you can install the OS into this drive and make everything fly!
5.- Software Updates.
Keeping everything up to date is important to make sure things are going to run smoothly. Make sure to update the OS and also all the applications that you use the most. Also, make sure you do a little research beforehand online about your specific set up and the version you are planning to get. Not always, but in few cases, the old software you already have is faster than the new version (if you are keeping the old machine and old apps)
Bonus Track: Upgrade The Processor
Not for the faint of heart, but this is the most bang for your buck upgrade. Not only will bring your old, tired machine to a new standard; but it will also buy precious time so you can save for the upgrade to a new computer. You can now hold on onto your old pal for a while longer. Of course, there are some bottle necks on the system that need to be taken into consideration prior on investing on the latest chip from Intel or AMD. Right now, you can get the Intel Core i5-760 running at 2.8Ghz for $200.
Bonus Track 2: Extra Monitor
This is not a speed update per se, but the additional monitor will speed up every day tasks. We have double set up at the office and it's true! Being able to slide one window to the left and having the other monitor to open the attachments while we are writing an email; or applying different filters in Photoshop while checking out one big spreadsheet, is priceless.