If you’re using a DVD to install, now’s the time to throw that sucker in the optical drive of your computer. Conversely, if you’re using a USB drive, plug that into one of the computer’s spare USB ports.
Now switch off your computer by holding the power button down for about five seconds, and then switch it on again shortly after by pressing it once.
As the computer starts up, you should see an option come on screen asking you for a boot or BIOS screen, requiring you to press F2, F4, F5, or another F-based key. Press it.
In this screen, you can really play around with settings for the computer, but what we want to do is tell the computer what device to load from first: either the DVD drive or a USB stick.
With this working for us, we’ll be able to install a fresh copy of Windows to the new solid state drive, which has nothing on it.
Head into the boot section and move either the USB drive you’re using or the DVD drive closer to the top, saving and exiting afterwards.
From here, your computer will reset, and will immediately look for the installation drive it should boot from first. Hopefully, that’s the one you want, and the installation can begin.
Once it does, you’ll find you can install your operating system pretty painlessly, as we did with Windows 8.1.
When it’s completed, you should find your system runs much more quickly with a clean operating system off the solid state drive, even if the processor and memory are comparatively old against it.
If some things aren’t working as well as they should, head to the website for the company that made your laptop, look up the model in support, and download new drivers, installing them to bring back lost functionality.
For the case of our Acer 8920G, the five year old computer went from needing over 60 seconds to boot to taking around 11 seconds under Windows 8.1. Not too shabby at all.
If you’re done, go back into your BIOS and make sure your hard drive is the first place your computer boots from, and then put the screws back into the computer case. You’re done, and all you need to do is reinstall apps and bring back your files from your USB stick or drive.
Remember that one of the reasons your computer is faster comes from the type of hard drive, but it also stems from the fact that you don’t have useless apps on your computer.
In fact, you have so little when you start that the computer is more likely to be very fast, since it’s not tied down with junk that you don’t actually use and is consuming resources in the background.
One way to keep this speed up is to not install things you don’t need, so look at the list of things you normally use, apps that you depend on, and bring those over, making the speed of your refreshed system last even longer.