Don’t throw in the towel just because your Windows PC has gotten slow. Here are ways you can speed up its performance.
Is Windows feeling a bit slow and drowsy lately? Are you constantly yelling at your computer, telling it to hurry up? Then it’s time to check your Windows setup. You’ll be able to see if something is troubling it. And — bonus! — you may be able to squeeze more speed out of it.
Several factors could be causing your PC to behave more slowly. We’ll look at them and see what you can do in response.
Culprit Number One: Low Disk Space
Despite today’s large capacity disk drives, you may be surprised how quickly space can fill up, especially on laptops or tablets where real estate is often more limited than on a desktop. Windows needs space not just for itself and your applications and files but for a page file that’s used for swapping data between memory and your disk drive. So, Windows can get cranky if it doesn’t have enough room to play. You can check your available disk space by opening File Explorer in Windows 10 or 8.1 and Windows Explorer in prior versions. Click on My PC or My Computer and see how much space your C drive has left. If the gauge is in the red, you’re definitely low on space in which case you have a few options.
The first and most obvious step is to get rid of any applications you no longer use. Open Control Panel in Icon view and click on the icon for Programs and Features. Scour the list and uninstall any familiar programs that you know you won’t use again.
You can also delete data that’s unnecessarily using up space. The best way to do this is to run the Disk Cleanup tool. Press Win+R. In the Open field of the Run window, type cleanmgr. Click on the button to Clean up system files. Then look through the list of items. Check any that are using a hefty amount of space. Some good candidates are System Error Memory Dump Files, the Recycle Bin (though you won’t be able to recover files removed from the Bin without a recovery tool), and previous Windows installations (especially the case if you recently upgraded to the Windows 10 Creators Update). Click OK and then watch as the disk space (hopefully) frees up.
Do you use OneDrive? Another option is to offload your documents and files from your hard drive to your OneDrive storage space. To do this, right-click on the OneDrive icon from your System Tray and click on the command for Settings. In the Account tab of the OneDrive window, click on the button to Choose folders. Check off any or all folders. The folders you check will be removed from your hard drive but remain in OneDrive where you can access them as long as you’re online.
And if all of that doesn’t help much, then it may simply be time to upgrade to a new and larger hard drive.
Culprit Number Two: Low Available Memory
Those of you with PCs or tablets that have 2GB or even 4GB of memory may find Windows slowing down as you open more applications and files. One way to free up memory is to look at your startup items and see which ones you can kick off the list. To do this in Windows 10 or 8.1, right-click on the Taskbar and click on the command for Task Manager. At the Task Manager window, click on the button for More details and then click on the Startup tab. Here you can see all the programs that have nestled their way into your startup routine, many of which don’t need to start up automatically.
To determine if you can remove a program from startup, right-click on its name and then click on Search online from the popup menu. If you find the program doesn’t need to load automatically, right-click on its name and click on Disable. To do this in previous versions of Windows, press Win+R. In the Open field of the Run window, type msconfig. Click on the Startup tab and uncheck any items you wish to disable. You’ll want to proceed slowly and cautiously here, disabling one program at a time to make sure each application still functions properly.
Obviously, another way to deal with low memory, at least on a computer, is to purchase more memory. Your best bet is to get the serial number or model number of your PC, call the vendor or manufacturer, and ask if you can add more RAM to it.
Culprit Number Three: A Virus Or Other Malware
Sometimes if your PC is behaving slowly or erratically, it could mean it’s caught a virus. Beyond wreaking overall havoc, malware is known for slowing down or otherwise messing with the performance of a PC. It goes without saying that you should be running antivirus software, either a third-party product or a built-in tool like Windows Defender in Windows 10. Whatever software you use, make sure you run a full scan of your computer to see if any malware is detected. If so, your software should alert you and automatically get rid of it.
Culprit Number Four: Corrupted Windows Files
Your Windows system files can sometimes get corrupted, another factor that could cause hiccups in performance. The System File Checker tool can scour your system for corrupted files and attempt to replace them with fresh and uncorrupted copies. To run this tool, open a command prompt as Administrator. At the command prompt, type sfc /scannow. The File Checker runs a system scan to look for and replace corrupted files.
Culprit Number Five: Bad Drivers And Windows Files
A bad software driver can impact your system as can misbehaving Windows files. One way to make sure your system is well-tuned is by downloading the latest updates. Windows will update both its own files as well as device drivers for third-party applications. In Windows 10, Open Settings, then click on Update & security. Click on the button to Check for updates and install any available updates. In prior versions of Windows, open Control Panel in icon view, click on Windows Update, and then click on the button to Check for updates. Again, install any available updates.
Culprit Number Six: Overall Poor Performance
If you can’t put your finger on what’s causing the slowdown, sometimes the only option left is to restore, refresh, or reset Windows, something you can do in Windows 10 or 8.1. If you’ve enabled the System Restore feature in either version of Windows, you can revert your system back to a previous point in time, hopefully before the slowdown began. To do this, open Control Panel in icon view. Click on the System icon. Click on the link for Advanced system settings and then click on the System Protection tab. Click on the Configure button and then enable the option to Turn on system protection. You can then manually create restore points. Windows also automatically creates these points before any major changes. If you ever need to revert Windows to a previous restore point, click on the System Restore button and then follow the prompts. You’ll lose any applications that have been installed since the restore point, but your documents and personal files will retain their latest changes.
Finally, you can reinstall Windows 10 or 8.1 through a reset or refresh. In Windows 10, go to Settings and click on Update & security. Click on the Recovery setting and then click on the Get started button under Reset this PC. In 8.1, open Settings, click on Change PC settings, and then click on Update and recovery. Click on the Recovery setting and then click on the Get started button under Refresh your PC without affecting your files. Depending on which option you choose and which version of Windows you’re using, your PC will be reset or refreshed, with your personal files though not necessarily your applications or settings intact. But hopefully, this process will eliminate the slowdowns if nothing else works.