Your Windows computer should be one of the most versatile piece of machines you have.
Turn it on, connect it to the internet, and you should be able to do everything you need to fulfill your digital needs. From browsing the web, creating/editing/reading documents, play games, edit photos, use utility apps and almost anything in between.
But what if you have an old PC? If you have one that you bought like years ago, or if you use your PC quite too often, it will slow down.
You will experience that dreaded experience where you PC takes forever to load, freezing on you. You may not be able to run apps like you used to, and the annoyance continues.
Windows PC users should experience that eventually. Even if you don't use your computer that often, updates and patches and all those installed apps can all put some stresses to how your PC should operate.
Before thinking of swapping your PC for a new one, you may want to do a few things to lift its burden.
Open 'Task Manager'
The first thing you have to do when experiencing a sluggish Windows, is to open Task Manager.
This is essentially a 'task manager' which monitors your Windows system. It provides information about your PC's performance, running software, running processes, CPU load, commit charge, I/O details, logged-in users, and Windows services.
In other words, Task Manager is a window to your PC's health.
With the tool, you can forcibly terminate apps and processes, set process priorities, and more.
By default, the Task Manager doesn't really show a lot of information. But if you go deeper into the details it has to offer, you can see a list of apps and background processes, all refreshed in real time.
Here, you can see which apps use the most resources, or behave strangely. Note their names, and search them on the internet to find what they do.
To close an app or process that you feel may be partly responsible for your PC's slow performance, click on it and then 'End Task'.
Running Apps On The Background
You may have no apps open. But know that apps can still run and do what they do without being seen.
Antivirus software for example, can run indefinitely as long as your PC is on. When it is running in the background, it may initiate some scheduled tasks, like updating its virus database, scan for threats and more. Some antivirus apps are heavy, and/or bloated, and may slow your PC.
If this is the case, you can set your antivirus software to only scan at times when you're not likely using your PC. Or, you can turn off its active protection (not recommended).
Other background process that may hurt your PC's performance are those apps that constantly sync with their servers, or are constantly on when not being used.
From cloud storage apps for example, to certain utility tools, themes, monitoring apps and others.
From the Task Manager, you should see which of those apps are eating the most resources. Simply terminating them should solve this issue, if the slow performance is their fault.
You can also force Windows to only run certain apps in the background by going to Settings and go to the "Choose which apps can run in the background" section.
Overloaded Web Browser
For most people, the web browser is the gateway to the internet.
If you like browsing relentlessly from one site to another, clicking on links, playing streaming media and such, know that your web browser would be the main culprit for a slow PC.
The longer you browse the web, the more likely you have more tabs opened. Know that each tab will eat bits of your computer's memory and processing power. Over time, that will begin to slow down your PC. And if you've installed browser extensions to improve your browsing experience, yes, they too can slow down your PC.
Again your Task Manager comes to the rescue.
See whether your browser is using the most resources. And if you're using Google Chrome, you can access the browser's built-in Task Manager to see the culprit in more details.
Check For Viruses And Other Malicious Software
Viruses, spyware, worms, trojans and others. They come in many names.
These are software, just like the apps you use, but with rogue intentions. There are a lot of malware in the wild, and if your PC is connected to the internet, and you frequently browse the web to go to unknown sites, or for downloading things, or if your PC is frequently having thumb drives connected to it, there are chances that your PC is infected.
You can run the built-in Windows Defender or a third-party app to do this.
Just remember that no antivirus is perfect. Some of the products have a lighter footprint on system performance than others, and some can scan deeper than the other. Here, use what you need.
The Windows operating system is a complex piece of software. The more sophisticated the software has become, the more problems it may experience from time to time. And this include corrupt files or processes because Windows failed to do something, or an app messed things up.
One of the easiest ways to fix corrupted files on Windows 10 is to run the system file checker utility.
Close/Disable/Uninstall Things You Don't Need
After covering some of the most common culprits, below are some steps to speed up your PC:
- Close running apps when you're done: A no brainer. When you finished using an app, you need to close them, and make sure that they're not running in the notification tray. You can check Task Manager to make sure.
- Check available storage: If you bought your PC like years ago, or have been using it frequently, know that all your activities will eat away your PC's physical storage. Here you need to check on how much storage you have left. You should also know that old hard drives will deteriorate its performance the older they get.
- Animations and custom additions: Your Windows operating system has that animations which are meant to improve your PC experience. This eats up resources. You can turn it off. And if you're using custom themes, transparency, special effects, etc., you can also turn them off.
- Disable startup programs: If your PC is taking a long time to boot up, you may have too many apps starting up when you turn your computer on. Disable them, and you will have a significant performance boost.
- Uninstall programs you no longer use: Remember that game you finished playing a year ago? Or maybe that app your friend asked you to test? Installed programs can take portion of your storage, and if you don't use them anymore, it's wise to just uninstall them.
- Turn off 'Search Indexing': This functionality essentially scans and indexes the contents of your PC, to help Windows in getting results faster when you search for files and other things. However, for low-powered PC and aging computers, the continuous activity is tasking your resources. You can turn this off, but expect Windows' search to slow down.
- Defrag: Windows is getting better in making things less fragmented. But defragmenting your hard drive manually should boost performance.
- Tweak virtual memory: All programs use RAM, but when there isn't enough RAM for the program you're trying to run, Windows will temporarily move information that would normally be stored in RAM to a file on your hard disk called a 'Paging File'. The amount of information temporarily stored in a paging file is also referred to as virtual memory. To speed up your slowing PC, you can allow Windows to use more virtual memory.
- Tweak 'Windows Registry': Windows Registry holds all the settings that are needed for the operating system and installed programs to function properly. You can tweak the Registry to speed up your Windows system in many different ways. Just remember that the Registry hosts many critical operations for your system, and mistakes can damage your system considerably.
- Use system restore point: Restoring your PC undoes recent changes that might be causing problems. If you think a recently installed app, driver, or update for Windows could be causing problems, you might get things running normally again by restoring your PC to an earlier point.
- Update/upgrade Windows: Newer versions of Windows have security patches and performance fixes.
- Restart your PC: If you have left your PC on for a few hours or days, your and your PC's activities would slow down your PC experience considerably. The best way to flush them all down, is to simply restart your computer. Restarting your computer clears out its memory and stop any rogue processes that might be taking up resources.
- Reinstall Windows: The ultimate and the last trick to speed-up your Windows is to reinstall Windows. The process can be tedious, but it can remove all unwanted software that slows down the PC, erases adware and other malware, clears out junk files and so on.
- Upgrade your PC: If the above still isn't enough, you may as well invest more into it. More RAM, more storage and faster processor should do the job.