There are two ways to make a computer go faster. The first is to throw money at the problem and upgrade all your hardware. The second is to use what you already have in the most efficient way possible. I’m a real advocate of that second way and take it as a personal challenge to squeeze a little more performance out of my existing resources.
Also see our article Why is My Mac Running So Slow?
So if your computer is slow and you want to speed it up, this guide is for you. Here are my ten top tips to speed up Windows without spending a dime!
Ten top tips to speed up Windows
The first thing we need to do to speed up Windows is see what programs are using up your resources.
1. Check processes
Windows uses processes to interact with you and with programs you run on your computer. Having too many running at once can slow your computer down.
- Right click on your Taskbar and select Task Manager.
- Look at the tabs at the top, CPU, Memory, Disk and Network. If one is running at a high percentage, click on the tab to order by program using the most.
- Look at each program using those resources. Is it important? Is it a system process? If it isn’t an essential program but something running in the background, right click the process and select End Task. If it isn’t a program you use much, uninstall it.
2. Check Startup items
While you’re in Task Manager, let’s take a look at what programs you have set to automatically start when you boot your computer.
- Right click on your Taskbar and select Task Manager if you closed it.
- Select the Start-up tab and click the Status tab within it to order programs Enabled first.
- Right click any that aren’t essential and select Disable. Keep things like third-party security, audio drivers, file managers and malware scanners but feel free to stop other programs. You can always start them manually.
3. Uninstall unnecessary software
Many laptops and bought desktops can come with bloatware and the longer we own a computer, the more we install on it. It is a useful exercise to have a spring clean every now and again to keep things lean. It not only speeds up your computer, it frees up disk space too.
- Right click on the Windows Start button and select Programs and Features.
- Uninstall any and all programs you don’t need or use.
- Work your way through the list and use Uninstall at the top of the window to remove programs.
4. Run a registry cleaner
There is a free software program called CCleaner. Download it now.
- Run CCleaner and select the Cleaner tab on the left. Click Analyze and then Run Cleaner once the process has finished.
- Select the Registry tab then Scan for Issues and then Fix selected issues once the scan completes.
- There is also a program uninstaller if you prefer to use than over Task Manager and a Startup program analyzer to check startup programs.
5. Defrag your hard disk
If you use a traditional hard disk, defrag is still a useful tool to speed up Windows. Do not defrag a Solid State Drive as it doesn’t need it and can reduce its operating life.
- Right click your hard drive and select Properties.
- Click Disk Cleanup if there is any amount of space used in the Files to delete window.
- Go back to Properties once cleaned and select Tools.
- Select Optimize, select a disk and then Analyze. If any hard disk is fragmented over 10%, click Optimize.
6. Check your browser addons
We live in our browsers so it makes sense to keep them lean and mean. Checking the browser for unnecessary addons is useful to make sure it isn’t being slowed down. The exact wording differs by browser so use whatever is most appropriate.
- Open your browser of choice and click the menu button (usually top right three dots or lines).
- Select Addons or Extensions.
- Go through the list and either switch them off altogether or switch then to Ask to activate.
- Consider installing click to play plugins to stop web pages loading video or animations. This speeds up web browsing across the board.
7. Check for program or Windows errors
If a program is malfunctioning or erroring, Windows will try to run it anyway or fix it, which can slow things down. Checking for errors is a useful way to speed up Windows and keep your computer running for longer.
- Type ‘event’ into the Search Windows (Cortana) box.
- Click Application in the left pane and scan the logs in the center pane. Troubleshoot problems as you find them.
- Click System and do the same thing.
8. Minimize running services
If you’re confident with your computer, minimizing the services running in the background can be very useful in speeding up Windows. By default, Windows runs a configuration most likely to work on most machines. You may not need half of the services it runs.
- Create a system restore point.
- Visit the Black Viper website and select your Windows version.
- Right click your Task Bar and select Task Manager.
- Select the Services tab and then Open Services at the bottom.
- Follow Black Viper’s guide for what services you may or may not need and disable as appropriate.
9. Minimize visual effects
Turning down Window’s visual effects is in the realms of marginal gains but if you’re looking for every scrap of performance is well worth doing.
- Right click the Windows Start button and select System.
- Select Advanced system settings in the left pan and the Advanced tab.
- Select Settings in the Performance section and then select Custom or best performance. If you select Custom, uncheck the boxes next to effects you could happily live without.
10. Scan for malware and viruses
Finally, once you have tweaked and tuned your computer, it’s time to make sure there is nothing nefarious slowing it down.
- Run a full antivirus scan. This will likely take a few hours so it might be useful to run it overnight.
- Run a malware scan and a spyware scan using your scanners of choice.
- Have an antivirus product and a malware scanner running in the background at all times to keep the bad guys away.
Those are my ten top tips to speed up Windows. They cost nothing and they may teach you things about your computer you didn’t know before. Plus, they streamline your operating system, clean out the clutter and make sure there is nothing on there that you don’t want.
Have any other tips to speed up Windows without spending money? Tell us about them below.