Does a slow PC have you down? If so, try some of the following suggestions to help make your Windows 10 PC run better. The tips are listed in order, so start with the first one, see if that fixes the problem, and then continue to the next one if it doesn’t.
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01. Disable programs that run on startup
One reason your Windows 10 PC may feel sluggish is you’ve got too many programs running in the background — programs that you may never use, or only rarely use. Stop them from running, and your PC will run more smoothly.
Start by launching the Task Manager: Press Ctrl-Shift-Esc or right-click the lower-right corner of your screen and select Task Manager. If the Task Manager launches as a compact app with no tabs, click “More details” at the bottom of your screen. The Task Manager will then appear in all of its full-tabbed glory. There’s plenty you can do with it, but we’re going to focus only on killing unnecessary programs that run at startup.
Click the Startup tab. You’ll see a list of the programs and services that launch when you start Windows. Included on the list is each program’s name as well as its publisher, whether it’s enabled to run on startup, and its “Startup impact,” which is how much it slows down Windows 10 when the system starts up.
To stop a program or service from launching at startup, right-click it and select “Disable.” This doesn’t disable the program entirely; it only prevents it from launching at startup — you can always run the application after launch. Also, if you later decide you want it to launch at startup, you can just return to this area of the Task Manager, right-click the application and select “Enable.”
The Task Manager helps you get information about unfamiliar programs. Right-click an item and select Properties for more information about it, including its location on your hard disk, whether it has a digital signature, and other information such as the version number, the file size and the last time it was modified.
02. Stop OneDrive from Synching
Microsoft’s cloud-based OneDrive file storage, built into Windows 10, keeps files synched and up to date on all of your PCs. It’s also a useful backup tool so that if your PC or its hard disk dies, you still have all your files intact, waiting for you to restore them.
It does this by constantly synching files between your PC and cloud storage – something that can also slow down your PC. That’s why one way to speed up your PC is to stop the synching. Before you turn it off permanently, though, you’ll want to check whether it is actually slowing down your PC. To do so, right-click the OneDrive icon in the notification area on the right side of the taskbar. (The OneDrive icon looks like a cloud.) From the popup screen that appears, click “Pause syncing” and select either 2 hours, 8 hours or 24 hours, depending upon how long you want it paused. During that time gauge whether you’re seeing a noticeable speed boost.
If so, and you decide you do indeed want to turn off synching, right-click the OneDrive icon, and from the popup, select Setting > Account. Click “Unlink this PC,” and then from the screen that appears, click “Unlink account.” When you do that, you’ll still be able to save your files to your local OneDrive folder, but it won’t synch with the cloud.
If you find OneDrive slows down your PC, but prefer to keep using it, you can next try to troubleshoot OneDrive problems. For info on how to do that, check out Microsoft’s “Fix OneDrive sync problems” page.
03. Change your power settings
If you’re using Windows 10’s Power saver plan, you’re slowing down your PC. That plan reduces your PC’s performance in order to save energy. (Even desktop PCs typically have a Power saver plan.) Changing your power plan from Power saver to High performance or Balanced will give you an instant performance boost.
To do it, launch Control Panel, then select Hardware and Sound > Power Options. You’ll typically see two options: Balanced (recommended) and Power saver. (Depending on your make and model, you might see other plans here as well, including some branded by the manufacturer.) To see the High performance setting, click the down arrow by Show additional plans.
To change your power setting, simply choose the one you want, then exit Control Panel. High performance gives you the most oomph, but uses the most power; Balanced finds a median between power use and better performance; and Power saver does everything it can to give you as much battery life as possible. Desktop users have no reason to choose Power saver, and even laptop users should consider the Balanced option when unplugged — and High performance when connected to a power source.
04. Clean out your hard disk
If you’ve got a bloated hard disk filled with files you don’t need, you could be slowing down your PC. Cleaning it out can give you a speed boost. Windows 10 has a surprisingly useful built-in tool for doing this called Storage Sense. Go to Settings > System > Storage and at the top of the screen – in the Storage Sense section – move the toggle from Off to On. When you do this, Windows constantly monitors your PC, and deletes old junk files you no longer need; temporary files; files in the Downloads folder that haven’t been changed in a month; and old Recycle Bin files.
You can customize how Storage Sense works and also use it to free up even more space than it normally would. Underneath Storage Sense, click “Change how we free up space automatically.” From the screen that appears, you can change how often Storage Sense deletes files (every day, every week, every month or when Windows decides). You can also tell Storage Sense to delete files in your Download folder, depending on how long they’ve been there. And you can also set how long to wait to delete files in the Recycle Bin automatically.
You can also delete old versions of Windows that might be hogging space. At the bottom of the screen, check the box next to “Delete previous versions of Windows.” Storage Sense will then delete old versions of Windows ten days after you’ve installed an upgrade. Note that if you do this, you won’t be able to revert to the older version of Windows.
05. Clean out your Registry
Under the Windows hood, the Registry tracks and controls just about everything about the way Windows works and looks. That includes information about where your programs are stored, which DLLs they use and share, what file types should be opened by which program or just about everything else.
But the Registry is a very messy thing. When you uninstall a program, for example, that program’s settings don’t always get cleaned up in the Registry. So over time, it can get filled with countless outdated settings of all types. And that can lead to system slowdowns.
06. Turn off search indexing
Windows 10 indexes your hard disk in the background, allowing you – in theory – to search your PC more quickly than if no indexing were being done. But slower PCs that use indexing can see a performance hit, and you can give them a speed boost by turning off indexing. Even if you have an SSD disk, turning off indexing can improve your speed as well, because the constant writing to disk that indexing does can eventually slow down SSDs.
To get the maximum benefit in Windows 10, you need to turn indexing off completely. To do so, first type services.msc in the Start Menu search box, and click the Services result that come up. The Services app then appears. Scroll down to either Indexing Service or Windows Search in the list of services. Double-click it, and from the screen that appears, click Stop. Then reboot. Your searches may be slightly slower, although you may not notice the difference. But you should get an overall performance boost.
07. Launch the Windows troubleshooter
Windows 10 has a very useful, little-known tool that can sniff out performance problems and solve them. To launch it, run Control Panel and select System and Security > Security and Maintenance > Troubleshooting > Run maintenance tasks. A screen titled “Troubleshoot and help prevent computer problems” will appear. Click Next.
The troubleshooter will find files and shortcuts you don’t use, identify any performance and other issues on your PC, report them to you and then fix them. Note that you may get a message that says, “Try troubleshooting as an administrator.” If you have administrative rights to the PC, click it and the troubleshooter will launch and do its work.
08. Get help from the Performance Monitor
There’s a great tool in Windows 10 called the Performance Monitor that can, among other things, create a detailed performance report about your PC, detail any system and performance issues, and suggest fixes.
To get the report, type perfmon /report into your search box and press Enter. (Make sure there’s a space between “perfmon” and the slash mark.) The Resource and Performance Monitor launches and gathers information about your system. It will say that it will take 60 seconds, but I’ve found that it takes several minutes. When the Monitor finishes, it will launch an interactive report.
You’ll find a lot of extremely detailed information in the report, and it can take a lot of time to go through. Your best bet is to first look at the Warnings section, which details the biggest issues (if any) it found on your PC, such as problems with Windows, with drivers and so on. It also tells you how to fix each problem — for example, how to turn on a device that has been disabled.
09. Kill bloatware
Sometimes the biggest factor slowing down your PC isn’t Windows 10 itself, but bloatware or adware that takes up CPU and system resources. Adware and bloatware are particularly insidious because they may have been installed by your computer’s manufacturer. You’d be amazed at how much more quickly your Windows 10 PC can run if you get rid of it.
First, run a system scan to find adware and malware. If you’ve already installed a security suite such as Norton Security or McAfee LiveSafe, you can use that. You can also use Windows 10’s built in anti-malware app — just type Windows Defender in the search box, press Enter, and then click Scan Now. Windows Defender will look for malware and remove any it finds.
10. Shut down and restart Windows
Here’s one of IT’s not-quite-secret weapons for troubleshooting and speeding up a PC: Shut it down and restart it. Doing that clears out any excess use of RAM that otherwise can’t be cleared. It also kills processes that you might have set in motion and are no longer needed, but that continue running and slow your system. If your Windows 10 PC has turned sluggish over time for no apparent reason, you may be surprised at how much more quickly it will run when you do this.
Try just some of these tricks, and you’ll find that you’ve got a faster Windows 10 PC — and one that is less likely to have any reliability problems.
Additional Curtsy: Computer World & Microsoft.