A slow computer can become a huge headache, affecting your productivity and causing you unnecessary stress.
“However, before you get frustrated and run to buy a new device, there are several simple and effective steps to make your computer faster,” say experts from the team at global digital security company ESET. From freeing up space on your hard drive to updating drivers, you can “wake up” your slow computer yourself and be back up and running in no time.
A few years ago this might have seemed like a job only an expert could do, but today Windows really makes it easy for any of us to do a few simple settings that will make a world of difference.
How to make your computer run faster
Here are 10 tips from ESET experts for Windows 11 and Windows 10.
- Save disk space
Chances are, you’ve been using your slow computer for a few years now, and you probably don’t even remember the last time you cleaned out your Downloads folder. So start there:
Look in your Downloads folder and any other folders where you keep your documents, photos, or videos, and delete what you don’t need.
Alternatively, you can also use an external drive or cloud storage to upload and save all those space-hungry files you don’t need on a daily basis. It is very important to always keep a backup of all important files, as your slow computer may one day decide to go on vacation without asking permission.
And by the way, remember to empty the recycle bin TOO!
2. Manage your apps
Go to the Start menu and click Settings. On the left side, select Apps and Installed Apps. Check the list of software on your computer and if there is something you don’t need, click the three dots in the right corner and select Uninstall.
Not only will you save space, but you will also reduce activities running in the background.
3. Clean storage
After Windows 10, Microsoft introduced a feature called Storage Sense that helps you get a better idea of how your PC’s storage space is being used, allowing Windows to manage your PC’s cleanup for you. This includes automatically deleting your temporary files, emptying the recycle bin, or deleting older downloaded files.
To enable it and configure how it works, go to the Settings menu again, click System in the left column, then select Save.
If you’re worried that Windows will delete something you want to keep, you can do it manually. In the same Storage menu, select Cleaning Recommendations. Here you can start by checking if you have any recommended large files that you haven’t opened in a while and might be taking up a lot of space. Once this is done, click the View advanced options button and scroll through the list of files that can be removed, paying special attention not to select Downloads if you want to keep them. Select Delete files.
Your computer should now only have the apps and files you really need.
4. Manage the apps you need at startup
One of the biggest frustrations most of us feel when our computer is slow is when we turn it on. And no, leaving your computer on for weeks on end is not the answer, but we’ll get it done.
Limit the apps you give permission to launch at startup. To do this, go to the Start menu and type Task Manager and press Enter. On the left side of this window, tap Launcher Apps.
You might be surprised to find that things you rarely need start as soon as you turn on your computer. Select only the apps you know and don’t touch anything you don’t know: Windows can take a while to start properly.
Once you’ve selected an app, hover your mouse over it, right-click it, and disable it. We hope this saves you a few seconds each morning.
5. Adjust your privacy settings
This is an extremely important point. Not only can it help you speed up your computer, but it will also allow you to control how apps use services like your location or microphone.
Go back to Settings in the Start menu, select Privacy and security, and in the App permissions section, review each of these: location, camera, microphone, etc. and disable the access of applications that do not need these services.
For example, you might want to turn off Microphone for Cortana if you’re not using the Microsoft assistant, and you might want to turn off all apps’ access to notifications. Of course, this means that your programs won’t be able to notify you of something they’re programmed to do, but it can be beneficial to your system’s performance.
Remember, even if your computer is running fine, always take a look at this menu to find out exactly what permissions you’re giving to installed apps.
6. Manage energy efficiency
In Settings, select System and go to the Power & Battery section. Windows is pretty good at managing power mode. They’re especially useful if you’re using a laptop that’s not connected to a power source, in which case you can choose Balanced mode or Optimum Energy Efficiency if your battery is low. But, if your computer is plugged in and is quite slow, select the best performance mode. Although the computer may experience higher temperatures and you may hear the fan ready to take off like an airplane, it will surely push your machine to run as fast and hard as it can.
7. Turn off visual effects
This might make your Windows less beautiful since we’re turning off pretty animations, but it’s a sacrifice worth making if your computer is too slow. To do this, go to Settings, select Accessibility, and then select Visual Effects. Go ahead and turn off the transparency effects and motion effects.
8. Update your computer
This is necessary. Keeping your PC up to date will ensure that you take advantage of various fixes and tweaks that can bring much better performance in certain apps, making your overall experience much smoother. At the same time, the updates provide the necessary protection against vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.
On the Start menu, type Windows Update and press Enter. Windows will display all available updates. All you need to do is click Download and Install. Windows will notify you of future updates, but if you want to make sure you’re always up to date, check this menu from time to time.
9. Check for malware
Although memory consumption can increase while security software scans for all kinds of malware, it’s worth it. To prevent the scan from running in the background, if you need this power to work, you can choose to run these scans manually, as well as ensure that you are running the latest version of the security software of your choice. Alternatively, you can scan online for free with reputable software. Protecting your computer from malware will prevent your computer’s resources from being used for malicious purposes and will protect your files, activity, and personal information.
10. Restart your computer
While this is not the same as completely reformatting your computer, it is the last thing you can do at home without seeking professional help. If nothing on this list worked and you want to try a nearly new version of your PC, you can choose Reset PC. To do this, go to Settings, System and select Reset. You can then choose to keep your files or delete everything for a factory reset. Again, remember that even if you choose to keep your files, you may lose them if something goes wrong, so always keep backup copies of all important documents and information.
Finally, an extra tip from the ESET experts! Don’t leave your computer running for days at a time just because you think it will take a long time to start up. Instead, you can let it go to sleep instead of turning it off, but be sure to restart it every two or three days. Contrary to what you might think, shutting down your computer does not close all running processes, while restarting your computer will make it perform all necessary installations and updates and close all applications.