We've rounded up the 15 easiest software and hardware upgrades for your laptop that will give the machine a new lease of life.
Share your mobile internet service
Wireless broadband can get you online anywhere, but what if you want to connect a second laptop? Windows' own Internet Connection Sharing utility can create a small, private network that broadcasts your internet service over Wi-Fi. (If you don't have a data-modem and you want to tether a mobile phone to your laptop instead, check out PdaNet for providing internet access to your laptop.)
Though Windows' ICS tool works, it can be a chore to configure. You can't use it to share a Wi-Fi network with other devices, either - if, say, you paid for hotel Wi-Fi for your laptop and you want to connect an iPad too, you're out of luck. Try Connectify for simpler setup, as well as the ability to share an incoming Wi-Fi connection over a new Wi-Fi network.
Extend your disk space with online file servers
How big is your hard drive? 500GB? 1TB? Make it infinite with online storage. The best tools mount on your desktop just as any local or network drive does. You have many choices, and you might already be paying for one option; check with your ISP or web host to see if you can access storage space as part of your service.
If you want to add more room with no practical limits, try Jungle Disk. You pay only for what you use, instead of selecting and keeping a set size.
Open a folder-based portal to another PC
Dropbox syncs your files across different systems, but one of its exceptional functions helps to connect people. Suppose you shoot some great pictures while your family is on vacation. If you have your laptop on the trip too, you can send those image files through a shared Dropbox folder to a parent or friend anywhere.
Simply copy new images into the folder on your machine, and the pictures magically appear within that folder on the other person's PC or Mac.
Update drivers and software
Software and driver updates can add new features to your system and boost its performance. At the very least, you should keep Windows updated. (To check whether your laptop is already set for that, click Start and type Windows Update to reach the Windows Update Control Panel.)
Beyond that, a tool such as PC Updater can track down all of the files you need. This utility retrieves both driver and application updates directly from the manufacturers, so you can be sure that your laptop will run with the fullest range of abilities.
NEXT PAGE: Bump up performance
- Software and hardware updates to speed up your laptop
- Share your mobile internet service
- Bump up performance
- Add a missing interface