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As PC hardware continues to get faster, so does the software, and the Windows operating system is no exception. This is especially true when starting out. Once you’re up and running, however, there are other performance factors to consider. Even the latest version of Windows doesn’t run smoothly, and not everyone is ready to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. These tips for activating Windows work whether you’re running version 10 or 11.
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The problem with most of the articles that tell you how to speed up Windows is that they tell you to disable some of the interesting features of the operating system, such as visual animation. Many of our tips show you ways to speed up your Windows system without compromising its appearance and performance. Many consultations can be done for free, but some involve a small investment in software or hardware. For those with older machines, less powerful machines that want to improve speed but don’t care about other things, some tips you will find at the end of this list.
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Note that you should know that “Speed up your PC!” Ads for registry cleaners, which often cause malware. Microsoft categorically does not recommend using registry cleaner(Opens in a new window) for Windows 10.
, although we do not list this as a recommendation because everyone should do it anyway. Go to Settings > Windows Update to see if there are security and reliability updates that you should install. Your PC may run faster after being updated as it may include hardware driver updates. Do it even if you don’t need a feature update – you can delay major updates in one section of Settings.
There are many other system cleaning software for Windows 10 that can speed up your computer, but this type of software is not as popular as it used to be. Many of these utilities improve PC performance, but sometimes it’s only for a small amount. There are many rogue downloads that claim to speed up your PC, so make sure you stick with tried and tested products. Iolo System Mechanic is a good choice, for example.
Although the situation is improving, the problem with some new computers is that they have a lot of unnecessary software, sometimes called bloatware, crapware, or PUP for unwanted programs. A few years ago, the Lenovo PC we tested had almost 20 so-called helper programs that would occasionally pop up and interfere with what we were doing. Even Microsoft is not bad in this game, because it has put some games and software mixed in the computer that you don’t like.
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Right-click on the unwanted apps tile in Start and select Uninstall. Doing so will remove the program immediately. You can also right click on the Windows logo start button and select the top option Programs and Features. Or type Programs in the search box next to the Start button.
You can often find crapware criminals by sorting through your PC’s manufacturer’s list of installed apps. Another good option is to sort through recent times to see if there are programs you don’t know you’ve installed; or by Size, to throw away really big things you don’t need. When you find junk apps that you don’t want, select them and click Uninstall. Unfortunately, you can only remove one at a time. Spend half an hour or more on this task if you have a bunch of bloatware.
Don’t forget to take a hatchet to apps you’ve installed yourself but don’t need anymore – and software you don’t want installed with your software.
Remember that Windows 10 and 11 have two kinds of apps: traditional desktop apps and modern Microsoft Store apps (formerly called Windows Store). You’ll find both types in the Apps & Features section of the Modern Settings app. For non-store applications, the Control Panel will open, where you can uninstall the old desktop programs. In each case, you can sort them by size, date of installation, or name, or search for a specific application.
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One of the reasons uninstalling apps helps performance is that many programs load during boot and take up valuable RAM and CPU cycles. When you’re in the Programs and Features section of Control Panel, you can also click Turn Windows Features on or off and check the list to see if there are any that aren’t being used. For more help on what to remove, read How to Rid Your PC of Crapware.
As mentioned, many programs include part-time processes that run every time you start your PC, and some of them don’t need to run on your system all the time. Compared to Windows 7, where you have to run the MSCONFIG utility, the new version of Windows gives you an easy way to prevent things from running at startup through an updated Task Manager.
The easiest way to launch Task Manager is by pressing Ctrl-Shift-Esc. Go to the Startup tab, and you will see all the programs installed at Windows startup. The dialog box has a column that shows you the start effect for each. The status column shows whether the program is enabled at startup or not. You can right click on any entry to change the status. It’s often easier to see things you don’t want to run. For example, if you don’t use iTunes, you probably don’t need iTunesHelper running all the time.
From the Start menu, type Cleanup Disk to open a trusted utility that has been part of Windows for many OS generations. Disk Cleanup finds unwanted junk like temporary files, offline websites, and installer files on your PC and allows you to delete them all at once. You may notice that the recycle bin is bursting at the seams-in general, it has a noticeable effect on speed if your car is close to full.
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If you don’t have a regular disk defragmentation program, set it up with the Optimize Drives utility, which you can find by typing its name in the search box next to the Start button. Note that if your main disk is an SSD, then you don’t need to worry about defragging, because there is no part that prompts to read the disk.
A new way to save security is by enabling the Security Sense option (see image above). It frees up space automatically by removing temporary files and recycle bins. For more information on how to use this feature, see How to free up hard disk space in Windows.
Both Windows 10 and 11 manage memory better than previous OS versions, but too much memory can slow down PC performance. If you are still using a desktop tower, this article can show you how to install RAM. The websites of the major RAM manufacturers (Crucial, Kingston, Corsair) all offer product finders that show the type of RAM your PC needs, and the exact price. You can get 8GB of high quality DDR4 RAM for less than $50.
If $50 or more is too much and your computer is old, has a hard drive instead of an SSD (see below), and has little RAM, you can try using ReadyBoost with a USB cable. It stores data on a storage device that can be used to access the storage space that will slow down the use of the hard drive. Just go to the USB key’s File Explorer entry, right-click to open Properties, and switch to the ReadyBoost tab to get started. For most new systems, this feature will not be available and will not provide a performance improvement.
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Adding RAM is not always an option, however, so not everyone will be able to use this device. With some current Windows devices, such as the Surface Pro tablet, that’s not possible. Gaming and business laptops still allow for RAM upgrades, but that’s rare. Newer, slimmer ultrabooks and convertibles often sport fixed memory.
Installing and running demanding applications like Adobe Photoshop is faster on an SSD. SSD is also very useful for Windows in the early days. Apps from the Microsoft Store can be easily moved from the hard drive to the SSD on the App Settings and Features page.
For system software, it makes sense to replace your internal hard drive, but if you’re using a laptop, this may also be an option. But an external SSD with a USB 3.0 connection can also give you a speed boost in applications that use a lot of storage. For help choosing which device to install, check out our list of the best SSDs.
You can use the built-in Windows Defender or other tools to do this, but you’ll be best served by security researcher Neil Rubenking’s top malware removal program. Don’t forget to use anti-malware protection. Some AV products have a
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