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As PC hardware continues to accelerate, so does the software, and the Windows operating system is no exception. This is especially true for the start time. However, once it’s up and running, there are other things to consider. Even the most current version of Windows isn’t immune to slowdowns, and not everyone is ready to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. These tips for speeding up Windows work just as well whether you’re running version 10 or 11.
How To Make Old Computers Run Faster
The problem with many articles that tell you how to speed up Windows is that they tell you to turn off certain features of the operating system, such as visual animations. Most of our tips show ways to speed up your Windows system without sacrificing any appearance or functionality. Most tips can be done for free, but some involve a small amount of money in software or hardware. For people with larger, lower-powered devices who want to increase speed but don’t mind additional leaks, here are a couple of tips you’ll find at the end of this list.
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Note that you should be careful with those “Speed up PC”. ads for registry cleaners that often lead to malware. Microsoft categorically does not support the use of registry cleaners (opens in a new window) for Windows X.
We still don’t consider this a tender thing that everyone should do regardless. Periodically go to Settings > Windows Updates to see if you need to install security and stability updates. Your PC may run faster after an update as it may include hardware driver updates. Do this even if you don’t want a major feature upgrade; you can delay those important updates in the same Settings section.
There are some third-party system cleaning utilities for Windows 10 that can speed up your computer, but this kind of software is not as popular as it used to be. Most of these utilities boost your PC, but sometimes only slightly. There are many malicious downloads that try to speed up your PC, so make sure you stick with a tried and tested product. Iolo System Mechanics is a good choice for example.
As things get better, the problem with some new computers comes with a lot of unnecessary software, sometimes called bloatware, crapware, or puppies for potentially unwanted software. A few years ago, from a Lenovo PC we experienced nearly 20 so-called help programs that would occasionally appear and interrupt what we were doing. Even Microsoft isn’t without blame in this game, as they bundled two games and mixed software into computers so you can’t participate.
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Right-click any unwanted app tile on Start and choose Uninstall. Doing so will immediately delete the account. You can also right-click the Start button on the Windows logo and select Top Programs and Features. Or just type the program in the search box next to the Start button.
You can usually find the culprits in crapware, a list of applications installed in the name of your PC manufacturer. Other good options are to check if you don’t know what programs are installed; or size, you don’t have to miss the most important things. When you find junk apps you don’t want, select them and click Uninstall. Until the moment to save someone’s time. Spend half an hour or so on this project if you have a ton of bloatware.
Don’t forget to remove apps you installed yourself but no longer want, and software you don’t want that was installed along with the software for you
Note that Windows 10 and 11 have two types of apps: traditional desktop apps and modern apps from the Microsoft Store (formerly called the Windows Store). You’ll see both options on the current Settings page Apps & features. For non-Store apps, the Control Panel opens, where you can install good old desktop programs. In any case, you can name or search for a particular application by size or installation time.
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One of the reasons that removing apps helps performance is that many programs are loaded at startup and take up valuable RAM and CPU cycles. While you’re in the Programs and Features section of Control, also click Check Windows features turned on or off to see if there’s anything you’re not using. For more help on how to remove it, read How to remove crapware from your PC.
As mentioned, here are many programs installed as processes that run every time you start your PC, and some are not necessary to run on your system all the time. Compared to Windows 7, where you had to run the MSCONFIG utility, newer versions of Windows give you an easier way to limit what runs at startup from an updated Task Manager.
The easiest way to invoke the Task Manager is to press Ctrl-Shift-Esc. Go to the Startup tab and you’ll see all the programs that load at Windows startup. The dialog box also has a column that displays the Start button for each item. The Status column shows whether or not the program can run on startup. You can right-click on any entry to change this status. It’s usually pretty easy to see what you don’t want to run. For example, if you never use iTunes, you probably don’t need iTunesHelper running all the time.
In the Start menu, type Windows to open the most reliable utility that has existed in the Windows operating system for several generations. Disk Cleanup finds unwanted junk like temporary files, web pages, and installation files on your PC and offers to remove them all at once. You may also find that your recycle bin is bulging at the seams; this only has a noticeable effect on speed if your activity is close to full.
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If you don’t have a regular disk defragmenter, put it in the Optimize Drives tool, which you can find by typing its name into the search box next to the Start button. Note that if your primary drive is an SSD, you don’t need to worry about removing it, because there are no moving parts to read the drive.
An even newer way to save storage usage is through the storage sense option (see image above). Free up space automatically by deleting temporary files and trash items. For a full rundown on how to use this feature, see How to Free Up Hard Drive Space in Windows.
Both Windows 10 and 11 manage memory more efficiently than previous versions of the OS, but more memory can always speed up PC operations. If you’re still using a desktop tower, this article can show you how to add RAM. The websites of the major RAM manufacturers (Crucial, Kingston, Corsair) offer search results that show you what type of RAM your PC uses, and the prices are quite reasonable. You can get 8GB of high-performance DDR4 RAM for under $50.
If $50 or so is too much, and your computer is old, has a hard drive instead of an SSD (see below), and has less RAM, you can use ReadyBoost with a USB stick. Store data on a portable storage device to speed up memory access that would be slower with a hard drive. Simply insert the USB key into file explorer, right-click to open properties, and switch to the ReadyBoost tab to get started. On most current systems, this feature will not be available and will not provide any boost effect.
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Adding RAM isn’t always an option, but not everyone will be able to use this tip. With some modern Windows devices, such as Surface Pro tablets, it’s simply not possible. Gaming and business laptops still allow for RAM upgrades, but it’s becoming less common. Newer, slimmer ultrabooks and convertibles often carry fixed memory.
Installing and running demanding applications like Adobe Photoshop is much faster with an SSD. An SSD also helps a lot with Windows startup. Microsoft Store apps can be easily moved from the hard drive to the SSD in the Apps & Features page of Settings.
For system acceleration, it makes sense to replace it on the internal hard drive, and if you use a laptop, this can also be an option. But an external SSD with a USB 3.0 connection can also give you a speed boost in storage-intensive applications. For help choosing which device to install, check out our list of the best SSDs.
You can do this with the built-in Windows Defender or a third-party app, but Principal Security Analyst Neil Rubenking’s top pick among anti-malware programs is the best. Don’t forget to use permanent anti-malware protection as well. Some AV products have one
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