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Why Is My Computer So Slow? The Ultimate Guide on How to Speed Up a Computer

Most of us know the thrill of getting a new computer, and how those first seconds of booting your operating system at lightning speeds make you drop your jaw in amazement at how fast everything seems to be. Once you get past booting, you begin making your PC truly yours, by customizing its settings, installing new programs, setting up drivers, and, for the most tech-savvy of you, even mess around with hardware settings such as setting the clock frequency and adjusting the fan speed.

Unfortunately, there comes a time in everyone’s life (in relation to their PCs) where things start to slow down. A little frame drop that you willingly let slip at first, followed by a bit of stutter a few weeks after, and all of these ultimately lead to you finally realizing that your PC doesn’t take 2-3 seconds from boot to your login screen, let alone launching your favorite almost instantly.

Why Is My Computer So Slow?

Computer Running Slow?

It’s truly heartbreaking to see the device that you probably spend many hours on is starting to slow down, no matter how meticulously you’re trying to maintain it by cleaning it up, taking it apart, and blowing it with a can of air duster where needed, defragmenting it or running tune-up utilities on it. Truth be told, most electronics have a lifespan, and if you’re truly lucky you may stumble upon certain pieces that last longer than the average before starting to lose performance.

However, considering that computers encompass several such pieces, it’s easy to understand how sometimes just one piece falling can affect the entire system and slow it down or make it stutter. Usually, this phenomenon takes place more often on old, outdated systems, but it could also happen to newer ones, depending on how good you’re taking care of it and whether or not you’re doing everything you can to keep everything in top shape.

It may sound a bit (more) counter-intuitive, but frequent system updates can take a massive toll on your computer’s overall performance. We’re all striving to better ourselves, and developers also aim to shatter ceilings and reach new heights in terms of performance, so it’s easy to see why an operating system that receives frequent updates in order to increase its performance can leave the hardware in the dust over the time.

Why Is My Computer So Slow?

Why Is My Computer So Slow?

If all of this seems awfully familiar to you, then you might be struggling with a system slowdown, whether minor or one that’s incredibly hard to ignore. When that happens, the most obvious answer is to upgrade to a better system, as most would seem to agree. However, just because your system got a bit rusty it doesn’t mean you need to scrap it as soon as possible and replace it with a better one, as your old computer might still have some life in it, regardless of the operating system installed on it, whether it’s Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or one that’s even older.

In fact, most users would prefer finding a way to breathe new life into their PCs without having to reach for their wallet and purchase upgraded components or a brand new computer altogether. If you’ve ever asked yourself Why is my computer so slow?, just keep on reading. In this guide, we’re going to show you a series of potential ways to fix your system without calling your local PC shop and ordering a new unit.

How to Speed Up Computer (The Ultimate Guide for Windows)

First and foremost, you’ll need to determine the cause of your PC’s slowdown. Once you find the reason why your computer or laptop has decided to give up little by little, you can start working around it to improve the current situation and make sure that your PC runs in a stable environment before calling it quits and giving up on him (which we advise against, especially if you haven’t already tried all the suggestions in our extensive guide).

With that in mind, let’s see what things you could try if you want to make your PC faster (if you recently bought it) or speed up your old computer or laptop and keep using it for a few more years before turning it into scrap. Alongside the fixes you could try we’ll also include a few potential causes that may have contributed to the (hopefully temporary) degradation of your computer, so you can understand its slowdown better and act accordingly if it ever happens again.

17 Working Ways to Make Your Computer Faster

1. Uninstall unused or rarely-used apps

Remove programs

If curiosity pushed you to explore your PC and use your Task Manager for more than simply closing stubborn apps, you might already know that there are three essential resources that your computer depends on to provide you with a smooth, fast experience: RAM, CPU, and storage.

While storage issues can easily be fixed by simply transferring unnecessary files to different storage media (such as CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, or external HDDs/SSDs), RAM and CPU issues are more often than not affected by processes that are currently running.

You may already know that things that run on your PC at any given time can be of various forms, for instance, apps, background processes, and services. A common misconception is that RAM consumption can be kept at a minimum value by simply not running any foreground apps on your computer, but if you’re not careful enough, you can turn background processes and services into bigger RAM hoggers than active (foreground) apps.

Any process that’s currently running on your PC, whether it’s active in the foreground and lets you interact with it, running in the background, or running as a service, will have an impact on your CPU, memory (RAM), disk (storage), and network (bandwidth) resources. Background processes will generally consume less than apps on your PC, but if there are a lot of them, they can also hog your resources greatly if you’re not careful enough.

Check resource consumption by yourself

Don’t take our word for it, though; use the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut to call the Windows Task Manager and see for yourself. If you have Chrome up and running on your computer, for instance, you’ll notice that it’s probably one of the biggest RAM consumers you’ve got.

Now imagine that not only Chrome, but every other process that’s running on your PC take a toll on your RAM, CPU, disk, and network resources, which inevitably leads to a system that’s not only slower but not as stable as the one you just unboxed and has almost nothing installed on it.

For that reason, we recommend you launch Control Panel, head over to Programs and Features, and take a look at the list of apps you’ve installed on your computer. If you see anything that you rarely or never use, feel free to remove it.

The thing is, many apps install services and background processes along with their foreground counterpart, so even if you rarely launch the app, it could still consume a tiny portion of your RAM or CPU through background processes or services that the app keeps open, in the eventuality that you launch it.

If you’re a bit tech-savvy, you can use the Windows task manager to see which apps have background processes running on your PC and remove them based on that piece of information, if needed.

Use third-party apps to remove programs

Do you have a lot of installed programs on your computer that you no longer use or are you not a big fan of uninstalling things from your computer manually? Then you’ll be glad to know that there are third-party apps that can lift this burden off of your shoulders.

Using Windows’ built-in program manager to uninstall apps from your PC can often leave several traces of the program behind, such as executables, DLLs, and configuration files, which all contribute to needlessly hogging storage space on your computer.

Most of the time that happens if you try to force-uninstall any programs from your computer while they’re currently running. If you do that, executables, DLLs, and configuration files needed for the executable to run will remain stranded on your PC, and sometimes you may notice that the program still has a process running in the background, even though you thought you removed it completely from your computer.

That process may not take up a lot of your CPU and memory, but if you have more than just a few of such program leftovers, it will start being noticeable.

Third-party specialized uninstaller software solutions can help you perform a wide range of operations regarding app removal, including but not limited to removing multiple apps at once (which Windows is currently incapable of), removing orphaned registry entries, and cleaning up every trace of the program you’re trying to remove, thus preventing situations like the one depicted above from ever occurring.

On the not-so-bright side, most of these programs are not exactly effective, especially if you’re heading towards free ones, which could even pose a security or privacy risk to your PC. However, we’ve created a list of the best free software uninstallers for Windows you can use, and they’re actually both effective and safe to use.

2. Remove startup processes

Remove startup programs

If you notice that your PC starts up way slower than it used to, there is a pretty good chance you’ve installed a bunch of apps and allowed them to run during system startup. Startup processes are huge resource mongers and can increase the time your computer needs to boot by a great deal.

During startup, your computer has to load a lot of processes required by the operating system to run as intended, so it needs every bit of resource it can have to get the job done as quickly as possible, and preferably without you noticing any slowdowns. Now here’s the thing: when you allow other apps to run during startup, these apps can hog resources that your operating system needs to keep things running smoothly and complete the startup sequence in a timely fashion.

If you use even a bunch of startup apps, your computer re-distributes resources between the third-party apps and your system processes, trying to make sure that everything, whether it’s an app or a system process, has a chance to run properly.

As a result, apps load slower and system processes take longer to launch, given that they both have to share CPU and RAM with each other, and you’ll get a sluggish, slow, stuttery experience from your computer.

Use the task scheduler instead

Therefore, if you want your computer to be fast once again, you should try to remove all startup apps and processes you’ve installed on your PC. You don’t need to uninstall them altogether: just launch them, look for startup settings, and try to disable anything that resembles Run on startup or Launch at startup. If you can’t or don’t want to remove them all, just remove as many as you can, as it will still make a huge difference.

One last thing: you probably knew this already, but if you’re running Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, or even Windows 7, you have a task scheduler on your computer. Don’t shy away from it and try using that to launch several apps simultaneously instead of haphazardly letting all apps on your PC run at startup. Just make sure that you won’t schedule apps during startup (you’ll go back to square one), and choose a later time (say, 5 minutes later) instead.

3. Close tray processes

Another type of sneaky software that you can have on your PC without even knowing consists of applications that run silently in your system tray. You know, that tiny area next to your time, date, notifications, and input language indicator that you can expand. If that area (the tray) has more than just a few things displayed in there, that’s a good reason why your computer might be slowed down.

As we’ve carefully explained above, a lot of apps running on your PC means that more resources are used, and since you only notice slowdowns when you’re actually trying to use resources yourself (and not a lot of them are available), well, you can probably do the math. So the obvious thing to do is close as many of those as possible and check if there’s any improvement.

We didn’t mention this before, but you should check for any sign of improvement after performing every step in our guide. That way, if you’re doing something right, you’ll know it right away. If you want to be extra sure that you’re actually on the right track, launch your Task Manager and look at the CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network column heads in the right section of the main screen. If you can’t see them, make sure to click the ‘More details’ button at the bottom-left of the Task Manager.

Some tray processes can’t be closed

Now back to our sheep: if you notice that your Memory or CPU percentage values drop significantly after closing certain apps, that’s a pretty solid indicator that that precise app was the reason why your computer was acting all slow and desperately needed you to intervene. Note that clicking the Memory, CPU, Disk, or Network columns can help you order processes on your PC by how much of that specific resource they consume. Clicking it once should show the top consumer first while clicking it again should reverse the list to display low consumers first.

Note that Windows also has some tray icons placed there by default, which shouldn’t inconvenience you much. Those are the Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media that you can’t close (since it’s not exactly an app), Windows Security (which you can’t quit by default), and driver-specific icons (such as control panels for your audio and video drivers). You should leave those alone and focus on third-party apps that you installed, such as browser agents (personally I don’t care too much for them and always make sure they’re closed), office agents, and other such apps.

4. Remove any clutter

As we’ve mentioned before, storage media (HDD, SSD) plays a huge role on your computer. Picture your HDD and/or SSD as those cabinets or drawers you reach into every time you need something important (e.g. your ID card, a pen and a piece of paper, a credit card, an MP3 player, etc). Well, in this scenario, you play the role of your operating system that reaches into these storage media (HDD, SSD) every time it needs to fetch something.

Hopefully, now it makes sense why you need to keep your HDD and SSD nice, tidy, and without a lot of clutter if you want your operating system and PC for that matter to fetch data from them quickly. You can probably agree with us that it can be incredibly difficult to rummage around an overflowing drawer looking for a tiny piece of paper or any other small object, so why put your HDD and/or SSD through this awful experience by letting junk files pile up?

Among tech-savvy users, it’s somewhat of a rule of thumb that an HDD that’s roughly 90 percent full will start slowing down, so you might want to try keeping it below this level by removing files and programs you don’t need. This applies especially if you keep your operating system on the same HDD, as your Windows will inevitably slow down along with your HDD.

If you have an SSD, things are even more complicated, since SSDs get gradually slower as you fill them up with data. However, if there’s no other way than store a lot of things on your SSD, a bit of good advice would be to keep it under 75% of its full capacity. After all, SSDs are generally used to load apps and processes at lightning-fast speeds, not to store ridiculous amounts of data.

Always remember that clutter can also build in other parts of your computer that are not exactly immediately obvious. If you don’t delete files and folders using Shift + Del (this shortcut deletes them without sending them to the Recycle Bin), you might want to check your Recycle Bin every now and then and empty it, especially if you don’t do it on a regular basis. A lot of junk files can build up in your Recycle Bin and that could start impacting your performance before you know it.

5. Defragment your hard drive

It may sound like an extreme measure, but defragmenting your hard drive is essential if you want to keep it in top shape for a long time and enjoy not only storing various documents on it, but also run apps and games without hang-ups, freezes, or random crashes. The need for this defragmentation process sprouts from the fact that over time, your hard drive becomes fragmented, and this makes your operating system slow down, as it has to search for content on your HDD in multiple places before being able to access it.

What defragmentation does is actually take the pieces that are now fragmented and put them back together, thus helping your operating system access them in a quicker, easier manner. As a result, your computer will load faster, seeing that files stored on your hard drive are in one piece, as opposed to being split into several pieces and scattered all over the place.

Windows 10, 8, and 7 can take care of your hard drive by performing scans and defragmentation operations automatically every week or so. However, it doesn’t hurt to make sure that everything is in top shape by checking the condition of your hard drive and the percentage of fragmentation it reached (if appliable). If you notice anything out of order, you can easily run a defragmentation operation by yourself. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press the Win key on your keyboard
  2. Type Defrag
  3. Select Defragment and Optimize Drives from the list of resultsDefragment or trim drives
  4. Check if any of the hard drives are at more than 0% fragmentation
  5. Select the hard drive that needs to be defragmented
  6. Click the Analyze button
  7. Once the analysis is done, click the Optimize button
  8. Wait for the process to come to an end (preferably leave the PC alone while the defrag runs)
  9. Repeat the steps above to cover all hard drives that require defragmentation

Note that we’ve only mentioned HDDs in our little guide above, seeing as SSDs don’t require defragmentation since they work differently than their HDD counterparts. You’ll notice that if you select an SSD in the Defragment and Optimize Drives dialog above, the Analyze button will be greyed out, and that’s not a bug. SSDs don’t require defragmenting, seeing as they can’t become fragmented in the first place.

Even if the Analyze button is greyed out for SSDs, notice that you can still click the Optimize one. Although it won’t defragment your SSD, it will perform the TRIM command, which is used to wipe data that your PC no longer considers to be useful.

As we’ve already mentioned, Windows 10, 8, and 7 operating systems run a weekly analysis on your HDDs and perform defragmentation operations whenever necessary if some of your HDDs require it. Note that you can modify the frequency at which optimization operations are performed from ‘weekly’ to ‘daily’ or ‘monthly’, although the OS recommends that you keep it on ‘weekly’.

You can also toggle an option that will increase the task’s priority if three consecutive scheduled hard drive optimization runs have been missed. Furthermore, the Defragment and Optimize Drives program allows you to select the drives that you want to optimize on a regular basis and also toggle an option that makes the program automatically optimize new drives detected on your system.

It’s worth mentioning that the instructions above apply to Windows 10 and Windows 8 operating systems. If you’re using a Windows 7 desktop computer or laptop, you can use the search function to locate the Disk Defragmenter program and select an HDD on your system from the ‘Current status’ section.

6. Perform a disk cleanup

Disk cleanups are paramount to keeping everything nice and tidy on your storage devices. Lots of apps use cached data, and these data need someplace to be stored, albeit temporarily, and that storage is on your HDDs or SSDs. Unfortunately, temporary files such as cached data, downloaded installation files, error logs, and optimization files don’t magically find their way into your Recycle Bin, so you’ll have to perform this cleanup by yourself.

Here’s how you can perform a disk clean up without too much effort on a Windows 10 PC:

  1. Hit the Win key on your keyboard
  2. Type PC and click the This PC icon in the result list
  3. Right-click any partition
  4. Select Properties from the combo menu
  5. Click the Disk Cleanup buttonPerform disk cleanup
  6. Click the Cleanup System Files button
  7. Check the files you want to delete in the appropriate section
  8. Click the OK button
  9. Confirm that you do want to permanently delete the files you selected
  10. Click the OK button once more
  11. Repeat the steps above for all the internal partitions on your system (make sure not to select external storage media)

Note that for windows 8.1, 8, and 7 you may need to find a different route to access your partitions (e.g. a ‘My Computer’ icon on your desktop or in the Start Menu). Furthermore, you may notice that some features are different or missing entirely, but the Disk Cleanup part itself is quite intuitive, so you will probably interact with it without needing further assistance.

If you’re not exactly a fan of getting your hands dirty digging around Windows’ built-in feature, you might be glad to learn that there are third-party software solutions that can take care of things for you, so you don’t have to waste time looking around for tools that might not be even there.

Use third-party disk cleanup tools

There are plenty of disk cleanup tools available on the Internet, and most of them do offer more than just disk cleaning features. For instance, some apps can provide you with real-time file cleanup capabilities, browser history cleanup tools, system optimization utilities, advanced app uninstallers, registry cleanup tools, startup app managers, and even defragmentation.

However, it’s worth mentioning that most of these apps are premium software solutions, so you’ll have to purchase a subscription plan or a license in order to use them to their full extent. Almost all of them have functional demos available that you can use and take the features of the app on a test drive before finally deciding whether or not the program is right for you, but you should be aware that most of these demos are incredibly limited.

One of the most common demo types is the one that simply scans your system and detects a lot of things that are wrong with it, but does absolutely nothing in terms of helping you fix it before you buy a license or a subscription plan.

7. Manually close resource hoggers

We’ve already established (and you should know this already if you’re at least a bit experienced with operating your PC) that some programs, processes, and games can take up a lot of your available resources, whether it’s CPU, RAM, storage space, or bandwidth we’re talking about. However, they should only be affecting your PC’s performance just as long as they’re running, so you shouldn’t notice any freezes, crashes, or stutters outside their runtime window.

Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to bring your Task Manager into view and make sure to enable the detailed view by clicking the ‘More details’ button at the bottom-left of its main window. Notice that there are 6 columns, each giving you a piece of information about the programs, processes, and services running on your computer in this order: name, status, CPU, memory, disk, and network.

If you want to sort the programs, processes, and services by how many resources they’re hogging, you can simply click one of the four resource tabs, depending on what you’re interested in: CPU, RAM, disk usage, or bandwidth. As we’ve explained above, clicking once should bring the highest consumer to the top of the list, and clicking once more should reverse the list, displaying the programs, processes, and services that consume the least amount of that specific resource.

CPU cores Task Manager

If your computer is incredibly slow, for instance, you can launch the Task Manager and click the RAM column to display the app that’s currently eating up most of your memory. Now if you notice that it’s hogging a lot more than it should, you can try to close it and check if there’s any improvement. The same principle applies to CPU usage: if you notice that the percentage is just too high, try closing the app, process, or service and see if your PC is any faster.

There’s another scenario where an app doesn’t show as being a huge RAM or CPU consumer but renders your PC unusable by making it extremely slow, stuttery, or even prone to crashes. Most of the time, these apps will show as non-responsive (Not Responding) in the Task Manager, so you can try and terminate them, even though they technically don’t consume a lot of resources.

If closing the processes that were taking up a lot of your system’s resources seems to have done the trick, then you could consider removing the app from your computer altogether, updating it to the latest version, or checking if it’s been misconfigured. It’s worth noting that some apps have certain configuration options that, once enabled, turn them into massive resource leeches.

8. Check your power & sleep settings

The fact that your power and sleep settings can have a negative impact on the performance of your computer is a less-known fact, but it does make sense, come to think of it. High processing power requires more resources, and one of the most overlooked resources in your computer is electricity. Therefore, it should make perfect sense that a more powerful computer should consume more electricity, which it does.

Fortunately, Windows comes with a bunch of power plans that you can apply depending on your current setup and preferences. For instance, you can set your computer to preserve more power at the expense of performance, or you can go full-throttle on performance, while also increasing the amount of electricity required. The most used alternative is a balanced power scheme that doesn’t give you full performance, but it doesn’t take a lot of energy, either.

Now if you’re on a desktop computer, the only reason why you’d want to adjust these power schemes is if you want more performance from your PC or keep your power bill at a minimum. However, for laptop users, things are a bit more delicate, as they also have to consider battery life when using their computers. Most laptop users are fans of the Balanced power scheme, which ensures normal PC performance and balanced battery life.

However, there are exceptional cases where you just need that extra oomph, so you switch to the performance-oriented power plan that drains your battery in a matter of hours (if you’re lucky and have a good battery), or you need more juice and you enable the battery-saving feature. Now if you remember what we mentioned just above, switching to a battery-saving plan will have a huge impact on your PC’s performance.

Therefore, if you notice that your computer acts incredibly slow for no apparent reason, you should check and see what power plan you’re currently using. This goes especially for laptop users since they’re more prone to interacting with power-saving options, but you should check it even if you’re a desktop PC user. It’s not uncommon to accidentally change power settings regardless of device type.

On laptops, a solid indicator that you’re using a power-saving plan is the reduced luminosity (brightness) of your screen. By default, the power saving plan will reduce luminosity to the absolute minimum, so it should be a bit harder to see stuff on your screen during daylight if that happens. Additionally, you’ll notice your laptop and its screen going to sleep way faster than it used to since it needs to conserve energy.

Long story short, if you decide to save some battery on your laptop you shouldn’t act all surprised when your entire system seems to be slowing down to a point where it’s barely usable.

9. Adjust visual effects

Newer versions of the Windows operating system have been not only more performance-oriented than their older counterparts but also made to look nicer. Windows developers have been implementing various animations, new polished graphics, menus, buttons, and icons to improve the user experience by providing users with not only a fast operating system but a sleek-looking one too.

However, all of this extra bling had to take its toll on your system somehow, as you probably know from computer games; increasing your graphic quality settings and setting a high resolution could affect your system’s performance and make the game feel more sluggish, albeit breathtaking in terms of eye candy. The same principle applies to Windows, but on a much smaller scale.

If you’re a lover of fancy animations, polished fonts, smooth buttons, window margins, and generally anything that looks out of the ordinary on your operating system, you probably have all these appearance-related enhancements enabled. For cutting-edge systems, this shouldn’t be a problem, since they’re specifically built to handle pressure from a wide variety of sources.

However, if your laptop or computer has been through more than two generations of operating systems without any significant hardware upgrade to help them match the requirements of new, modern Windows versions, there might be a problem there. For that reason, we recommend that you turn off as many visual enhancements as you can and check if there’s any notable improvement on how fast your computer is after doing so. Don’t know where to look for these settings? Check out the following mini-guide:

  1. Press the Win key on your keyboard
  2. Type Control
  3. Select Control Panel from the list of results
  4. Go to System and Security
  5. Open the System window
  6. Scroll down until you reach Advanced system settings and click it
  7. Click the Settings button in the Performance section
  8. Click the Adjust for best performance radio buttonAdjust performance options
  9. Confirm your action by clicking the OK button
  10. Restart your PC and check if there’s any major improvement

It’s worth mentioning that clicking the ‘Adjust for best performance‘ button will disable absolutely every visual effect in that list. If you don’t want your Windows experience to be devoid of every type of eye candy, you could give it a whirl and create your own scheme of visual effects by clicking the Custom radio button and start toggling features on or off from the list. Once you’re satisfied with your selection, click the OK button and restart your PC.

While you’re here, you should know that the Advanced tab of the Performance Options window enables you to change the paging file size for your drives manually (if you don’t trust that Windows’ automatic paging management is good enough), and switch between program- and background-service-oriented performance by clicking the corresponding radio button depending on your preference.

By default, Windows is automatically adjusted for the best performance of programs, but you can also set it to ‘Background Services’ if you feel it may benefit you more.

If you’re a Windows 7 user, you can find the same settings by searching for the Performance Information and Tools section, selecting the Adjust visual effects option, and navigate to the Visual effects tab to start customizing your settings or choosing a different scheme.

10. Disable unnecessary Windows Features

Windows features might seem like something that has to do more with your operating system’s infrastructure than with any active components that you got running, such as apps or services, and you’d be half right. However, most of these features rely on services and background processes to run flawlessly on your system, and as we’ve already established before, the more you load your PC, the slower it will get as time goes by.

For that reason, a wise thing to do would be to take a look at your system’s features and perform a swift cleanup if needed. Microsoft wishes to cater to the needs of a varied clientele through their most important product (i.e. the Windows operating system), so the product gets delivered with a bunch of tools and features readily available (already enabled) by default.

Don’t get us wrong, that’s not inherently bad, as you may need most of these tools at one point or another, but loading services that you “might someday need” and end up not using them ever can be harmful to your PC in the long run, much like leaving the light on or the water slightly running can be to your monthly budget. On the bright side, just because Microsoft decided to enable certain features it doesn’t mean that you WILL need them or that turning them off could cause irreparable damage to your computer, so you may want to turn some of them off.

This goes specifically if you notice that your system is not as fresh and fast as it used to, and trust us when you’ve reached this point, every little thing counts. You disable this, you uninstall that, you do a little bit of defragmenting, and before you know it your PC starts picking up its pace, doesn’t freeze as often as it used to, and crashes start to feel like a thing of the past.

However, if you landed here, chances are you’re not exactly a pro when it comes to computers, and you might not know exactly how to reach the list of Windows features, let alone disable or enable them to your heart’s content. Not to worry, though, we’ll walk you through the steps so that you can give your old PC the performance boost it so much needs. Here’s what you have to do to disable Windows Features:

  1. Press the Win key on your keyboard
  2. Type control
  3. Select the Control Panel icon in the Start menu
  4. Click the Programs and Features section in the Control Panel
  5. Locate and click the Turn Windows features on or off at the left side of the main windowenable or disable Windows Features
  6. From the newly-opened window toggle any unnecessary features off and click the OK button once you’re done
  7. Restart your computer

Note that you may want to refrain from haphazardly disabling everything in your wake, especially if you’re a PC novice and have no idea what each of the features depicted in that list helps you achieve on your PC. If you’re not sure about any specific feature and what role it plays on your computer, you may want to steer away from it and keep yourself from disabling it, as doing so may render some parts of your PC partially unusable.

Although the safest way to go with this would be looking up each feature, see what it does and what disabling it could mean for your system, we’ve also included some of the features that you could disable safely, along with what that feature does, and what disabling it could mean for your computer and/or operating system. Note that these features apply specifically to Windows 10, so if you’re using an older version of Windows some of these items may not apply to you.

  1. Internet Explorer 11
    • You can safely disable Internet Explorer 11 from your Windows 10 PC considering the fact that Microsoft replaced it recently with Microsoft Edge. Internet Explorer still continues to remain available on Windows 10 PCs and there’s no immediate plan to remove it. Furthermore, Microsoft stopped sending Internet Explorer 11 updates through Windows Update, and you’d have to download and install them manually from Microsoft’s website, which is all the more reason to remove it without thinking about it twice.
  2. Internet Information Services (IIS)
    • Recently, IIS started being enabled by default on new Windows 10 installations or during upgrades from older versions of these operating systems. Although it sounds like a big deal, you probably won’t need IIS up and running, so you might as well disable it. This doesn’t apply if you’re running a web server on your PC, in which case you shouldn’t disable IIS. If you do decide to disable it, you could also expand the IIS folder and disable FTP Server, Web Management Tools, and World Wide Web Services, if they’re enabled.
  3. Internet Information Services Hostable Web Core
    • This goes in the same category as the IIS we mentioned and explained just above. If you’re not running any web server of any kind on your computer and don’t intend to do so anytime soon, you can safely disable the Internet Information Services Hostable Web Core if it’s enabled.
  4. Legacy Components and DirectPlay
    • Legacy Components is a feature that enables you to add support for a wide variety of old components on Windows. One example of such a component is DirectPlay, which is a feature that was a part of DirectX a long time ago and is no longer used. If your system can still be considered somewhat new, go ahead and disable both Legacy Components and DirectPlay from the Windows Features screen.
  5. Media Features – Media Player
    • A while ago, Media Features used to have more than just one feature under it, but now it’s just Media Player, Windows’ built-in solution for playing media files on your PC. If you have any experience with Windows PCs, you probably know that Media Player isn’t exactly versatile, as it depends on numerous codecs in order to let you enjoy your favorite video and audio files. If you’re already using a third-party multimedia player, such as VLC or Gom Player, go ahead and disable this feature.
  6. Microsoft Print to PDF
    • This is Microsoft’s virtual printer that lets you export any printable document to a PDF on your computer instead of actually printing it. Personally, I find this feature useful on various occasions, so I keep it enabled all the time. However, if you’re using Microsoft Office or any other third-party tool that can convert documents to PDFs there’s no point in keeping this feature enabled as well, so it’s really your call.
  7. Microsoft XPS Document Writer
    • XPS is a file format that was created by Microsoft as a response to Adobe’s PDF, in order to replace it and provide users with more flexibility over documents created locally without requiring third-party software solutions. If you never heard of XPS and don’t plan to use it anytime soon, our suggestion is to disable this feature.
  8. Print and Document Services – Internet Printing Client
    • If you use a local printer to print documents from your computer instead of using one that’s available and shared on your network (LAN), you can safely disable this feature, as it has little to no use to you. However, if you’re used to sending documents over to a network printer, make sure you keep it enabled.
  9. Print and Document Services – Windows Fax and Scan
    • If you have a fax machine or a scanner connected to your computer, make sure you don’t disable this feature. It’s enabled by default, so just leave it be if you need it. However, if you don’t use fax machines or scanners that are connected to your computer, then you can safely disable it without looking back. Note that certain versions of Windows may lack this feature altogether, so don’t bother looking for it if you can’t find it on your first try.
  10. Remote Differential Compression API Support
    • If you’re not using remote access apps (even those that are built-in and readily available on your PC) or Windows Server, you can disable this feature, as it was introduced in Windows Server 2003 R2 to help users enhance their server management experience.
  11. Windows PowerShell 2.0
    • If you’re a PowerShell user, you probably know that PowerShell 2.0 has been outdated for quite a while now, so there’s absolutely no reason to keep this feature enabled. At the time being, the latest version of PowerShell is 5.1.19041.906, so you can safely disable PowerShell 2.0 support from your PC.
  12. Windows Process Activation
    • On newer versions of Windows, this should be already disabled by default, along with everything within it (.NET Environment, Configuration APIs, and Process Model), so you can guess for yourself exactly how useful this feature is for regular Windows users. If you’re running any home server or plan to do so in the near future you shouldn’t disable this feature, but if you’re just a regular home Windows user, you can get rid of it without even blinking.
  13. Work Folders Client
    • Through this feature, you can connect to any linked device on your network, including other computers, and work on them (in work folders). If you’re simply using your Windows PC alone on your network and don’t need to connect to other devices on your network that you can work on, just disable it.

Note that all the features that you’ve disabled can be easily re-activated by simply following the same steps before our list of features and checking the boxes that you want to re-enable. We’ve personally tested disabling these features before putting them in our guide, so everything should be alright with your PC as long as you follow our guidelines.

However, if you notice any stability or functionality issues that occur after disabling some or all of those features, feel free to re-enable them. Here’s a trick: you can only enable half of them each time so that you know which half contains the troublesome feature, and work your way through them using this technique. It’s faster and can save you a lot of time, especially if you have to restart your PC after enabling or disabling some of the features.

11. Run a malware checkup

Maybe you won’t believe us, but malware can beat your computer down to a pulp and make it virtually unusable to you (at least compared to what it used to work like when you first purchased it). Therefore, it goes without saying that you should pay great attention to stuff that you let reach onto your PC and seep within its virtual entrails.

However, you can never be too careful, seeing as cyber threats and their perpetrators get more dangerous and creative by the day, so if prevention is not a viable option, the next best thing is the treatment.

In case you didn’t know, Windows includes a quite powerful anti-malware solution that you can use to scan for malicious files and code on your computer and remove it. Just like any other anti-malware software solution, Windows Security can’t possibly detect newly-created code, so there is a possibility that at some point your PC could get infected even if you’ve scheduled 12 quick scans per day and 7 full system scans per week.

In this case, you should be prepared by backing up everything important externally as frequently as you can, considering that ransomware seems to be the current trend.

VirusTotal GUI

However, if you’re not a fan of Windows Security, you can feel free to install any other anti-malware utility you find fit. As a rule of thumb, you should keep in mind that free antivirus and anti-malware solutions are generally not more powerful than Windows’ built-in solution and could make your system go slower, so if you’re really serious about cybersecurity, you’ll need to pay top dollar for the best tools available.

Note that malware can be found in many forms, so you shouldn’t target EXE files on your PC exclusively when performing your scans. In fact, some of the most dangerous forms of malware inject themselves into system processes and DLL files, so you should perform full system scans as often as possible.

However, keep in mind that a full system scan will slow down most computers by a significant deal, so avoid using them during those times or set scans at hours when you’re not using them and schedule your PC to turn off afterward.

One last thing regarding malware checkups: sometimes Windows might detect false positives, so you should try doing some additional research on your files before sending them to quarantine or removing them from your PC altogether.

One quick way of doing that is submitting the potentially dangerous file to an online virus scanning service such as VirusTotal and analyzing the results. Always remember to clean up quarantined files by either removing them from your PC altogether or restoring them to their initial location if appliable. Make sure not to allow/restore files that are really infected.

12. Use Windows’ security utility

If you’ve installed several security tools on your computer, especially if they’re free, limited ones, you should know that Windows’ built-in antivirus and anti-ransomware protection works absolutely great, it’s built-in (which gives it an extraordinary edge over third-party products), and doesn’t use up a lot of your system resources.

Microsoft Security antivirus

Antivirus tools are more often than not huge resource mongers, and it’s no surprise, considering that they constantly perform background checks, have real-time scanners that are ready to capture anything going wrong on your system, most of them are scheduled to run on startup, and almost all of them can’t be closed (for obvious security concerns), not even using Windows Task Manager.

For that reason, we suggest you stick to as few malware detection tools as you can, especially if you’re trigger-happy, and install every free tool that promises to keep your system clean of threats without first uninstalling some of those that you were previously using.

As a rule of thumb, you should have no more than one antivirus, one anti-malware/adware, and one firewall running at the same time on your system if you want to avoid slowdowns and keep your PC running smoothly and fast for a long time.

13. Update your drivers

Compared to older versions of this operating system, Windows 10 does an incredibly good job at fetching drivers from the Internet and installing them on your PC merely moments after you finish deploying this OS. In fact, most of this magic happens in the background so you don’t even realize what’s happening until after everything has already been installed and configured.

However, sometimes even Windows 10 can make mistakes, and you might end up with an outdated set of drivers on your system, which may cause certain performance issues, such as slowdowns, freezes, stutters, and even crashes if you’re really unfortunate. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve faced a BSOD because of a driver mismatch, so you might want to check the manufacturer’s official website for the latest drivers.

Fortunately, most manufacturers released checkup tools that you can install on your system and use them to detect if you’re running the latest drivers for your hardware components, whether it’s the GPU, network adapter, or CPU we’re talking about. After deploying the latest versions of the drivers you need, make sure to restart your PC and check if there’s any improvement.

If you don’t like getting your hands dirty and spending a lot of time online searching for the correct versions of the drivers you need to install, you’ll probably be glad to learn that there are various third-party software solutions that could take care of these things for you. Unfortunately, most of these tools are premium, so you’ll need to pay a fee in order to use them.

You could find some working demos of these utilities, but almost all of them merely detect what drivers you’re missing and don’t allow you to download or install them directly through their interface.

14. Turn Cortana off

Cortana could save you from a lot of headaches if you’re into virtual assistants and controlling stuff with your voice on your computer. However, if you rarely or never used it before, there’s absolutely no need to keep it active on your PC, as it will only slow it down by a great deal, not to mention that several hackers have figured various ways to exploits its vulnerabilities and gain access to your system through it.

For those two ultra-important reasons alone you may want to consider disabling Cortana on your Windows 10 PC. For obvious reasons (Cortana is only available on Windows 10 systems), if you’re using Windows 8 or Windows 7 (or even older systems), you can skip this step.

There’s some bad news, though: in the beginning, Cortana was relatively easy to remove, but now you have to get your hands a bit dirty by going through your system registry, which can be a bit scary for novices. Don’t worry, though, we’ve got your back and will teach you exactly what to do in order to remove Cortana from your Windows 10 PC:

  1. Press the Win key on your keyboard
  2. Type Edit group
  3. Select Edit Group Policy
  4. Go to Computer Configuration
  5. Open the Administrative Templates folder
  6. Head to Windows Components
  7. Open the Search folder
  8. Double-click Allow CortanaDisable Cortana
  9. Click the Disabled radio button on the left side of the window
  10. Click the OK button to confirm your action
  11. Close the Local Group Policy Editor window
  12. Restart your computer

After you restart your PC you should notice that Cortana is not available any longer and instead of the Ask me anything textbox that is specific to Cortana you should see a Search Windows one. It’s worth mentioning that the instructions above will only work on Windows 10 Pro. If you’re using Windows 10 Home, you need to do a modification to your Windows registry.

15. Use tune-up utilities

Maybe the name of tune-up utilities doesn’t speak volumes to you, but if you’re planning to breathe new life into your old computer, they’re an absolute must, as they can perform a huge array of functions without having any previous experience using similar tools or having a degree in operating computers. Usually, you just install these utilities on your computer, allow them to perform a quick scan, and let them take care of everything.

Not too long ago these tools were very popular and as a consequence of their popularity (of the legit ones), a lot of knockoff copies started flooding the market. Now that’s not to say that clones and forks of popular programs are inherently bad, but as far as tune-up utilities go, most of their knockoff copies are entirely useless, and could even make your computer go slower, not to mention the fact that almost all of them come packed with additional software, which is an excellent entry point for malware on your PC.

Therefore, if you’ve decided to go this path and let a third-party tune-up utility do all the heavy lifting and breathe new life into your computer, you need to make sure that the tool you’re using is actually legit and not some clone that will only steal data, grab your money by making you pay for a subscription plan or a license, plant malware, or open backdoors on your PC.

More often than not, PC optimization tools will have a working demo that you can download and install on your computer and take the features of the program on a test drive and see exactly how effective it is. However, there’s a catch: most of these tools will only perform a quick scan on your PC, one that goes so fast it’s actually hard to believe it took so little time to complete.

This scan will most likely find a LOT of things that are not alright with your PC and claim that they can fix it in a couple of clicks, but here’s the catch: you must pay for a subscription plan or buy a license in order to do that. So even if you believe you pulled a winning ticket with these programs, most of them are actually trying to trick you into buying a license and will do almost nothing to restore your PC to its former glory.

We get the appeal of free software; nobody wants to pay for stuff that they could get for free, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why so many get scammed or end up with a malware-ridden computer. Given that nowadays it’s hard to distinguish between tools that actually work and ones that are only there to make a quick buck out of your naivete, we took the liberty of creating a list of free PC optimization tools that are actually safe.

Note that despite the fact that you can use these tools without paying a dime, they are somewhat limited in functionality, so you’ll only be able to perform a series of operations while using their free versions. However, if you feel like one of the apps on our list is exactly what you’ve been looking for, you can unblock their full versions by either buying a subscription plan or purchasing a license.

16. Perform a clean Windows install

 

It’s not a terrible idea to perform a clean Windows install on your computer every now and then, especially if you’re using your PC on a daily basis, and bombard it with various apps, updates, browser extensions, and the such. In time, these things can lead to a total system slowdown, stutters, hang-ups, freezes, and even failures (crashes, BSODs, you name it).

If you’re the type who performs regular system maintenance, uses uninstallers to get rid of leftover data, doesn’t run a huge amount of apps simultaneously, updates drivers frequently, and generally runs a tidy ship, then a clean OS install may be redundant. However, if you’re somewhat negligent when it comes to keeping things nice and tidy on your PC, you should definitely go for it, especially if you’ve noticed that your system started slowing down for no apparent reason.

Novice computer users might not grasp exactly everything regarding how an operating system works and may not know exactly where to start if a clean Windows installation is in order. Although performing a clean operating system installation could feel somewhat intimidating for a novice, there are numerous detailed guides online on how to do that with minimum risks. Check out our extensive guide on how you can install Windows 10 using a UEFI bootable USB.

Windows 10 also offers you what would be the equivalent of performing a factory reset and restoring your PC. However, a lot of users complained that attempting to do so only leads to an error that informs them that there was a problem during the PC reset operation and that no changes were made, so Microsoft still has to go to some lengths to iron these imperfections.

However, if you’re among the lucky ones and resetting your PC works on your end, you could try and do that instead of performing a clean install. We also have a guide on how you can perform a factory reset on your Windows 10 PC without significant efforts, so feel free to use it at your leisure if you’re worried that you’ll get stuck.

Note that resetting your PC, the drive on which you installed the operating system (usually the C drive) will be cleaned up, and as a result, all of your user settings and applications will be removed. Therefore, it goes without saying that if you have anything worth saving on the drive where you have Windows installed, you should back it up before you start the reset process. If you forget to do so, you could still use data recovery tools in an attempt to restore lost data, but there’s no guarantee doing so will work.

17. Upgrade your hardware

CPU throttling
Photograph of a CPU mounted on a motherboard.

If you’ve tried everything or at least almost everything in our guide and your computer is still acting stubborn and refuses to speed up even just a bit, there’s a good chance that you need to perform a hardware upgrade. In time, operating systems can get ahead of the hardware they’re installed on, and that’s perfectly natural considering that we’re always striving to reach new heights regarding performance.

As a result, your hardware may not be able to keep up with your operating system, the programs you installed, drivers, and updates, so it starts to feel sluggish, freeze, or even crash occasionally. If that happens, you should start looking up components for your system or considering upgrading to a new system altogether if you lack the patience of searching for individual parts for your PC.

Although quite popular, SSDs are still quite overlooked when it comes to performing system upgrades. Most users focus on RAM, coolers, PS (power sources), and CPUs, but upgrading your SSD is equally important for speed, especially if you have a low-storage unit or lack one altogether.

If you only have an HDD on your system, consider replacing it with an SSD, or better yet, install an SSD alongside it and deploy your operating system on the SSD. As a rule of thumb, you should know that SSDs are way better at loading stuff (apps, operating systems), while HDDs are better for storing documents (cheaper units for the same storage space).

If you make the switch from an HDD to an SSD, you’ll notice a significant improvement in OS booting time, performing updates, copying or moving files, deleting files, as well as launching various apps that you may have installed on the same drive (the SSD). Thus, if your system is acting all slow and you’re not using an SSD, now is the best time to get one and migrate everything OS-related on it.

However, RAM and CPUs aren’t to ignore, either. If you notice that your operating system or various programs you’ve installed on your computer quickly eat up your RAM or CPU no matter how great you are at resource management and try to keep a tidy workspace, it’s definitely time for an upgrade. More RAM means you have more spare memory to use, which subsequently means that you’ll be able to run more apps simultaneously without your PC getting slow or unresponsive.

A better, faster CPU translates into more computing power, so if you notice that your PC takes an awfully long time to perform even basic, menial tasks, upgrading your CPU may be exactly what you need to make things better.

Some of the most important details you’ll have to look after when you’re buying a CPU are the number of cores it sports, the number of threads it has, its clock frequency, whether or not it supports turbo (boosting) technology that increases the frequency when needed, and whether or not it supports overclocking (sometimes you’ll need it).

If you’re using a laptop and low battery life makes you constantly switch to a power-saving plan, you should use your laptop plugged into a power source (an outlet) and make the switch to a performance-oriented power plan. Another alternative would be purchasing a brand new battery, desirably an extended one, that could eliminate the need to constantly saving power by throttling your laptop’s performance.

How to make my PC faster

All things considered, if your computer is not exactly what it used to be in terms of speed and seems to be slacking off lately even when it comes to basic, day-to-day tasks, you should consider stepping in and trying some of the suggested fixes we’ve included in our comprehensive guide. We recommend you to try as many fixes as you can, seeing as your PC is a piece of complex, well-oiled machinery that depends on a huge array of components in order to function properly, so the reason for your system’s slowdown could be basically anything.

CONCLUSION

The suggested fixes we’ve included in our guide were designed to cover as much ground as possible, so try to avoid skipping any one of our suggestions. As we’ve explained in the last part of our guide, if everything else fails, you should start considering upgrading your hardware, either by buying better components separately and use them to replace the existing ones on your old/slow system, or purchase a new, pre-configured system altogether. Just to be safe, if you buy a new system, make sure its specs are better than the ones on your existing computer.

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