Many computer websites advocate simply upgrading your hardware to make your computer go faster. While it does work, there is a lot you can do to speed up your computer without spending a dime. You would be much better off speeding up your computer with some Windows 10 performance tweaks first.
Also see our article How To Speed Up Windows 10 – The Ultimate Guide
Use these tweaks to make the most of what you have. Then, if you still want to buy new hardware you can. Your new hardware will also make good use of the performance boost these tweaks offer giving you even more bang for your buck!
Windows 10 performance tweaks
Some Windows 10 performance tweaks are designed to work on older systems such as lower transparency and desktop effects while others streamline Windows to work more efficiently. I am definitely in favor of that second goal and will base this guide around streamlining Windows to work as efficiently as possible.
Let us start with the basics.
Before we begin focusing Windows 10 on performance, let us first make sure it is up to date.
- Right click the Windows Start button and select Settings.
- Select Update & security and Windows Update.
- Select Check for updates and allow the process to complete.
Performing driver updates will ensure you are using the latest, most efficient drivers that make best use of your hardware.
- Right click the Windows Start button and select Device Manager.
- Select your graphics card, audio device, network card and motherboard in turn and check for driver updates.
- Update all peripherals if there is an update available.
You can let Windows take care of driver updates if you like, or perform the check manually. Just visit each hardware vendor’s website and look for newer drivers. Download and install.
For graphics drivers, use DDU Uninstaller to remove the old driver before installing the new one. It is much more effective that way.
If you have looked in Task Manager since getting Windows 10 you may be surprised at just how many services are installed by default. Microsoft designed Windows 10 to be all things to all people. That means lots of services and features enabled that you may never use.
I could describe each service and why you should leave it alone or disable it but Black Viper does it much better. Visit the Black Viper website and follow the instructions for streamlining Windows 10. You can decide for yourself how far you want to go. I tend to use ‘Tweaked for Desktop’ but your mileage may vary.
Windows 10 Startup programs
Any time you install a new program, it thinks it needs to load automatically when you boot Windows. Some programs, such as firewall, antivirus, malware scanner, VPN software and so on do need to load, most others do not.
- Right click an empty space on the Windows Taskbar and select Task Manager.
- Select the Start-up tab.
- Order apps by selects the Status header. Programs listed as Enabled will load automatically every time you start your computer.
- Right click an entry and select Disable to remove it from startup.
- Repeat for every program you don’t need to load when you start Windows.
The Start-up tab helpfully shows you what kind of impact a program has on boot times. The column next to Status, Start-up impact shows you. Low means next to no impact on boot time while High delays boot by at least a few seconds. What it doesn’t tell you is how many resources the service uses while sitting idle.
Check for viruses or malware
Viruses and malware both impact performance as well as your privacy. Both use system resources to carry out their nefarious work so now is a good time to perform a full system check. Run your antivirus of choice and perform a full check. Leave it overnight if necessary. Then run your malware scanner do run that too.
Uninstall unused programs or bloatware
If you bought your system ready-made, the manufacturer will likely have installed all sorts of useless apps, or bloatware as it is known. If you have used the computer for long, you will also likely have programs installed that you no longer need. Removing these will free up resources and streamline your computer, boosting performance.
- Download and install CCleaner.
- Select Tools from the left menu. The Uninstall tab should automatically be selected.
- Work your way through the list uninstalling any program you don’t use or don’t want.
Keep CCleaner open when finished as we will not need to have a tidy up.
Tidy up your registry
The Windows 10 registry is a database that holds system and program settings as well as preferences, system resources and links to where Windows or an application can find files or folders it needs. The larger the registry, the longer it takes Windows to find anything. The more redundant and broken entries, the longer it takes Windows to operate.
Now we have removed a load of programs we no longer need, we can perform a little housekeeping in the registry.
- Open CCleaner.
- Select Registry from the left menu and Scan for Issues from the bottom.
- Allow the scan to complete and select Fix selected issues from the bottom right if it found any problems. You can save a copy of the registry if you want.
CCleaner has had a bad rap recently but I still rate it as a system cleaner. I have used it for years and it has never put a foot wrong for me.
Take out the trash
While you’re in CCleaner, let us do some tidying up to clear out old data and cached files. We have removed old programs, cleaned out the registry, so let us know clean up after ourselves.
- Select Cleaner from the left menu of CCleaner.
- Select Analyze and let the process complete. A list of files and how much space you are reclaiming will appear.
- Select Run Cleaner to take out the trash.
This is a minor performance tweak for Windows 10 but is good practice. It not only ensures your disks have free space but also means Windows doesn’t have to search through unused files to find what it is looking for.
Modify your power plan
Exactly how you modify your power plan depends on whether you are using a desktop or laptop and how you use it. If you use your laptop as a desktop replacement, usually plugged in, you can use performance settings. If you use your laptop as a mobile device, you will need to balance performance with power saving.
- Type or paste ‘control’ into the Search Windows/Cortana box and select Control Panel.
- Select Hardware and Sound and then Power Options.
- Select the High Performance plan in the center.
- Select Change plan settings to the right and Change advanced power settings in the next window.
- Modify settings as you need, including disabling turning off hard disks, USB selective suspend setting, PCI Express Link State Power Management and Processor power management.
To get the most performance out of your hardware, disabling power saving modes will help. It does have a knock-on effect for power consumption but this is only really relevant for laptop users. If you use your laptop as a mobile device, you may prefer to use the Balanced power plan instead.
Turn of Windows 10 ‘helpers’
Turning off Windows 10 tooltips has a surprising performance benefit. Windows scans your computer in order to offer these tooltips and considering most of them are useless, this is an overhead we can do without.
- Right click the Windows Start button and select Settings.
- Select System and Notifications & actions.
- Toggle off Get tips, tricks and suggestions as you use Windows.
Keep the Settings window open as we will need it again in a minute.
Turn off tracking and reporting
While the performance gain from turning off telemetry and data collection may be minor, the privacy gain is significant. Ideally, you should do this the moment you first buy your computer or fire it up after installing Windows 10.
- Open Settings and then Privacy
- Turn off settings to improve privacy and reduce the work Windows has to do to report back.
Disable the following:
- Let Windows track app launches to improve Start and search results.
- Location and location services unless you need GPS or location specific apps.
- Speech, inking & typing – Speech services and typing suggestions
- Account info –Let apps access my name, picture and other account info.
- Contacts, Call history and Messaging – Let apps read or send messages, access contacts etc.
- Feedback & diagnostics – Set it to Basic. Turn off Let Microsoft provide more tailored experiences…
So those are some great ways to speed up your computer with some Windows 10 performance tweaks. None of them cost any money, all of them can be done in less than 30 minutes and all of them are reversible if you find you don’t like them. What’s not to love?
Got any other Windows 10 performance tweaks you want to share? Tell us about them below if you do!