Meltdown and Spectre Slowing Your Computer Down? Use These 5 Steps to Speed Up Your Computer
The Meltdown and Spectre physical design flaws found in most recent CPUs has been in major headlines recently. CPU manufacturers and major operating systems like Windows, OSX and Linux have been able to patch these vulnerabilities to a certain extent, but the next question that many of us have is:
"How will these Meltdown and Spectre patches affect the performance of my computer?"
In the 5 steps below, I will go over ways to mitigate the performance drop you may experience because of the patches for Meltdown and Spectre.
First, a quick recap. Both Spectre and Meltdown exploit a concept called “speculative execution” which is a tool that CPUs use to increase performance.
While a CPU waits to retrieve data, it can guess what data it is going to receive. If the CPU guesses correctly, the time is saves from guessing correctly allows it to continue to other tasks, thus, increasing its performance. If the CPU guesses wrong, it throws out the incorrect data and doesn’t lose a step.
Now that patches for Spectre and Meltdown have been rolled out to most CPUs, they no longer have speculative execution as a tool to increase performance. This can cause up to a 14% drop in speed. Most modern 6-8th Generation Intel CPUs will see less than a 5% drop. You can review a sample of Intel’s testing for “fully mitigated systems” here.
Step 1 - Make Sure You Have The Necessary Patches
First, check to see if your computer has the necessary patches to protect against these vulnerabilities by downloading the InSpectre utility that will analyze your hardware and software.
If your system is not fully patched, follow these steps to protect yourself, then come back to this article.
It’s better to have a small dip in CPU performance than keep a backdoor open that could compromise your data.
Step 2 - Upgrade Your Hard Drive
If you have a mechanical hard drive consider upgrading it to a solid-state drive (SSD). In most modern computers the biggest bottleneck in performance is the speed at which data can be written to and read from the disk.
Read and write speeds on a mechanical drive run between 80-100 MB/s depending on the drive. Upgrading to a solid-state drive can immediately improve those speeds to 500 MB/s or more.
Step 3 - Add Memory To Your Computer
It’s possible that your computer could greatly benefit from the addition of more memory, also known as RAM (Random Access Memory).
If you experience sub-par performance running several applications at once, or you experience errors of “low memory” or “out of memory” the simple task of upgrading memory will greatly improve your experience and overall performance of your computer.
Moving from 4 to 8GB is one of the most common upgrades and typically costs between $25 to $55 and should only to take about 10 minutes to complete. Click here for a quick tutorial on how to upgrade your RAM.
Step 4 - Run A Cleanup Utility On Your Computer
There are many pieces of software out there that will scan your computer to cleanup and remove old and corrupt files. This will improve the overall performance of your computer.
I’m only going to list one here because in my opinion it is the most comprehensive one I’ve come across, and it’s FREE - TRON Script.
Check it out. It does require some technical know-how to get it running, so you may want to ask for assistance from your tech savvy friend, but it is worth the effort.
Step 5 - Complete A Fresh Install Of Your Operating System
This one I can’t recommend enough! Often the only thing stopping a 5+ year old computer from performing like a brand-new machine is a fresh installation of the OS.
The catch is that it does completely erase the hard drive in the process, so you will need to backup all your files and reinstall all software on the computer. It is a bit of work, but it will save you time going forward as your computer will work like the day it came out of the box.
RECAP: How to Prevent Meltdown and Spectre Computer Slow Down
Monitoring and maintaining the performance and security of your computer is more important now than ever before. If you’re like most people and spend a lot of your working day on a computer, using the steps listed above has the potential to save you time and headaches.
Following the steps above will improve the performance of your computer and will go far beyond negating the effects of the patches for Spectre or Meltdown.