It seems like something inevitable — with enough time, a fast computer starts slowing down and eventually becomes frustrating to use.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though.
There’s usually no planned obsolescence with Windows computers, therefor there is no reason for your computer to start dragging through every day-to-day tasks that it used to perform without any difficulty.
Of course, as time goes by, websites and applications start getting heavier and requiring more horsepower in order to run properly.
With enough time, a little slow down is to be expected and is perfectly acceptable, but that doesn’t mean that your computer has to be rendered inoperable.
There are some ways of making your computer, if not as fast as it was when you bought it, faster than it currently is.
In this article we’re going to give you a few tips that will allow you to optimize your computer and to get it to run with less slowdowns.
How to Fix a Slow Computer
First of all, it is important to note that there is no certain fix for a slow computer.
It might be as simple as rebooting it or as complex as reformatting it entirely — in rare instances you might even need to buy new hardware.
Although these tips will probably work and will increase your computer’s speed, keep in mind that there are no guarantees.
Rebooting Your Computer
Our first tip is the easiest one, and one that might work better than you expect it to.
Rebooting your computer allows it to clear its memory and will delete active instances of programs you might’ve opened previously and aren’t using anymore that are still hogging your system’s resources.
Before trying any other fix, you should try rebooting your computer.
Chances are its speed will improve significantly.
That doesn’t mean that even after restarting your computer you can’t try the other fixes as well. You can always improve your computer a little bit further.
Closing Programs Running in the Background
Whenever you boot up your computer, some programs will start straight away. Some are necessary for your computer to run, but others are part of applications that you might not use or need as soon as you boot up your computer.
Preventing applications from starting on start-up is a sure way of increasing your computer speed if you have lots of tasks starting as soon as you log in to your user account.
Here’s how you do it in Windows 8, 8.1 and Windows 10:
- Open the Task Manager by pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL and selecting the Task Manager option, or by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + ESC
- Head to the “Startup” tab
- Select the programs that you don’t want to load when you boot up your computer
If you’re using Windows 7, the procedure is similar.
- Open the Start menu
- Go to “Programs” and then “Startup”
- Delete the files you don’t want to load automatically when you log in
You should also make sure that your antivirus isn’t constantly performing scans of your computer. Some antivirus (particularly the free ones) like to schedule scans for when you start your computer. Those scans can definitely be the cause of your computer slowdowns, so be sure to rule that option out.
Deleting Temporary Files
Temporary files are created whenever you run a program in your computer. These files store several types of information related to the program you’re running. If you don’t delete them, it is possible that that particular application will open faster. However, these files can be several GBs in size and be hindering your overall computer’s performance.
Since they’re temporary files, it’s okay for you to delete them. Most of them will probably be recreated whenever you open the program that created them back up, but until then they won’t be slowing your disk down.
Windows Disk Cleanup utility is great for deleting temporary files, although you should note that it might not delete very single temporary file.
In order to counteract this caveat of Windows Disk Cleanup, you can delete those files manually yourself.
If you’re using Windows 8, 8.1 or Windows 10, just open the Start menu and type in “%Temp%”, pressing enter afterwards. You can delete every file in the temp folder. If you can’t delete a certain file, it’s likely it is being used by some application you’re currently running. If that’s the case, just ignore and keep that file, deleting everything else.
Uninstalling Programs You Don’t Use
Clearing your computer of programs you don’t use anymore can also help speeding up your computer.
Although it might seem to do nothing, uninstalling old applications might also delete background processes that are still running but you’re not using any longer, as well as AutoStart entries and other stuff that might slow your computer down.
Ensuring Your Disk Isn’t Corrupted or Fragmented
Although this is not a concern in newer SSD’s, hard drives might suffer from fragmentation issues. Windows 10 automatically defragments the hard drive at certain times, but that won’t help if there’s something physically wrong with your disk.
Simple commands like ScanDisk or chkdsk can tell you if there’s something wrong with your drive or if everything’s running as it should.
If something’s seriously wrong with your hard drive, Windows 10 will most likely let you know without any sort of user input.
Scanning for Viruses and Malware
There’s always the chance that your computer is slow due to viruses or other types of malware.
Windows Defender is a great, free tool that will get rid of most viruses affecting your computer. The best part is that it already comes preinstalled with your Windows version, as long as you’re running Windows 8 or above.
When it comes to malware, free software like Malwarebytes is great at scanning and disinfecting your computer.
If you’re unsure whether your computer is actually infected or not, download the application and run it. There’s no harm in ensuring your computer is safe. The same goes for performing an antivirus scan.
Windows 10 uses lots of different animations that might seem to slow down your computer. For example, when you minimize a window, you usually see it collapsing to the corner. If you disable animations, then the window will automatically minimize, making it seem faster.
Disabling animations is very simple. Just do the following:
- Press the Windows Key + X and select “System”
- Click on “Advanced System Settings” and then on the “Settings” tab, under “Performance”
- Under “Visual Effects” choose to disable every animation, or choose “Custom” and disable the animations that you wish to
Upgrading Your Hardware
It comes a time when you need to face the harsh reality — you need to upgrade your computer. We’re not saying that the cause of your slowdowns is outdated hardware, but running a 10-year old system surely doesn’t help.
If you’re using a desktop, upgrading it is easier than you might think. Of course, if your computer is that outdated, then you might as well buy a new one — you’ll be upgrading pretty much everything.
However, if you just want to give it that extra oomph, there are two places you should focus: your computer’s memory (or the RAM) and your disk.
Nowadays, the minimum acceptable memory is 4 GB — and even that is pushing it. We recommend having at least 8 GB, although you can definitely do with less. RAM memory allows programs to run without having to swap information using the swap file — which is stored on your disk. This improves immensely your computer’s speed.
Upgrading the disk can also bring a new life to your computer, mainly if you trade your HDD for an SSD.
If you’re just used to using HDD’s, then Solid State Drives will be a new experience entirely. They are much, much faster than hard disks, and are quieter as well. They used to be quite expensive, but nowadays they’re pretty cheap. It’s something you should seriously look into, if you’re lacking in the disk department.
Ensuring Your Computer Keeps Cool
Overheating can also cause your computer to slow down. Your processor needs to stay at a relatively cool temperature in order to function properly.
You can always add thermal paste to your processor if it’s running warmer than usual. Cleaning your computer case and fans will also lead to a better airflow, reducing the temperature.
If you’re scared about disassembling your computer, don’t be. It only takes a little bit of patience and the payoff is always worth it. A clean computer is a fast computer.
Of course that even after cleaning your case and applying thermal paste to your processor, you might always be better by…
Increasing Your Processor Speed
There are two ways of increasing your processor speed. The first one is obvious, and complements what we’ve said earlier — upgrading to a newer CPU will give you a much faster one. The second one is not recommended for everyone, but leads to an improved performance out of your CPU — overclocking it.
While overclocking may lead to a 20% performance improve, it will also lead to a higher power consumption. Not only that, but the processor will also generate more heat. If it’s not properly thermally insulated, then the gains might become negligible due to the higher temperatures.
Also, in order to overclock your processor, you might need to use complex software. Upgrading your CPU is a more efficient alternative when it comes to increasing your processor speed.
Formatting Your Computer
If you have too many programs installed and you don’t want to remove them all (and erase their registry entries), then you can always format your computer.
Formatting your computer means erasing everything on your disk and starting over from scratch. If you have important files or photographs, you want to back them up before even thinking about formatting your PC.
After formatting your computer, you will need to install the correct drivers for your devices (although in most cases Windows 10 takes care of that) and reinstall every program that you normally use.
Although it might seem like a load of work, it will surely improve your computer speed, due to not having as many programs and temporary files slowing it down.
Since Windows 8, Microsoft lets you reinstall Windows without any installation media. The “Reset This PC” feature is built into Windows and allows you to start everything from scratch. Of course you can always do it the old way, with a Windows 10 CD.
As you can see, there are plenty of fixes you may try before deciding on buying a new computer. These fixes will definitely speed your computer up. However, that might not be enough if it’s running on old hardware and it struggles with low-intensity tasks.
If that’s your case, then you probably need to reach into your savings account and buy a new computer.
Although there are cheap new computers, those aren’t usually worth the money. If you intend on buying a new computer, ask someone who understands hardware — manually configuring your computer is always cheaper and better than buying a prebuilt option.
If you’ve successfully sped your computer up with our tips, or know about a tip we haven’t covered, let us know in the comment sections below. We’re always looking to learn!
Petr is a serial tech entrepreneur and the CEO of Apro Software, a machine learning company. Whenever he’s not blogging about technology for itechgyan.com or softwarebattle.com, Petr enjoys playing sports and going to the movies. He’s also deeply interested about mediation, Buddhism and biohacking.