It happens to everyone. You buy a brand new computer, and the first time you boot it up you’re AMAZED at how fast it is. But then… a couple years or even months go by, and before you know it, the computer struggles to run even basic programs. What happened?
Well there are a lot of reasons why a computer might slow down over time, but I’ve got a list of ten things you can do in Windows that will hopefully get it running more like when you first bought it.
8+ Simple & Free Tips to Make Your Computer Faster
And don’t worry, these are are all simple and free things you can do right now. Some of these might seem obvious, but others may not.So let’s get started:
Cleaning Startup Programs & Services
First and foremost, clear out your startup programs AND services. This has got to be the number one reason for slow downs over time, because think about it. As time goes on and you install new programs, many of them make themselves start up with windows. And if you don’t close them, you’ll have an ever-increasing number of programs just running in the background taking up resources.
But don’t think that just because you don’t see many programs in the taskbar that there aren’t many programs running in the background. In Windows 8 and 10, you can open up the task manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc, and going to the Startup tab to see ALL the programs that start up with windows. In Windows 7 and earlier, go to the start menu and run “msconfig” Right click and disable any that you don’t immediately need all the time. You can obviously just manually run them whenever you want, but they don’t need to start up.
Disable Startup Services
Now here’s where most people screw up. Because the startup tab is not the end of the story. Because many programs install what are called “services”, which are still programs that run in the background, but you never see them.Disable any of those you don’t need as well. You can do this by going to the start menu and running “Services.msc”. You’ll get a list of all the services, and any that say “automatic” will start with Windows. What you can do is right click them, and change startup type to “manual”, so they’ll only run when the program starts.
Keep in mind that you SHOULD be more cautious when disabling these, especially for programs that aren’t necessarily manually run by you. So for example disabling the printer service might cause trouble next time you go to print. So only disable services that you know you don’t need running in the background. This is also great for programs that you see starting up all the time, but you can’t find it in the startup list. It’s probably actually a service.
Uninstall Unwanted Programs
Uninstall any unused programs. This will free up hard drive space, and remove startup junk without having to go through the whole list of startup programs and services trying to figure out what each one does. Alright number three, another simple one you’re hopefully already doing, is scanning for malware and viruses.
If your computer is always running slow for no apparent reason, it’s possible there are hidden malicious software running in the background, doing anything from showing you ads to using your computer resources in a bot net. Now there are both free and paid antivirus options, and free versions of paid ones. These include Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, and Malwarebytes. Even if your computer isn’t running slow though, you should have some sort of antivirus on your computer.
Disabling windows animations
It is quick and easy, just disable windows animations. One of the ways you can do this is to go to the Ease of Access settings window, and check “Turn off all unecessary animations when possible”. You can also to Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings > Performance Settings, and adjust which animations to use. You can select for best performance which will disable all of them, or pick and choose. This will probably make the biggest difference on low power computers.
Keep Software Up to Date
keep all your software up to date. This includes Windows itself, your graphics drivers, and anything else you use regularly. They are frequently releasing new updates that optimize for performance, as well as improve security. Plus, it’s just good practice.
Check your power settings
Especially on laptops, the default may be to have it set to “balanced” or even “power saver”, which are good for conserving battery, but will also slow down your computer considerably. Instead, you may want to change it to High Performance, definitely if you’re on a desktop, and on a laptop maybe only when you’re plugged in.
I learned this the hard way a couple years back when I got a brand new laptop that was supposed to be really high end. But when I got it, it was SO slow, I couldn’t figure out why. After several days, I finally realized it was on power saver mode, and when I switched it to high performance, THEN it was lightning fast. So be sure to check that.
Check Hard Disk for Errors
Check your hard disk for errors. You can do this in a couple ways. First, you can check the hard drive’s reported health by going to the command prompt, so start menu, type CMD. Then typing in “WMIC”, and then “diskdrive get status”. If they all say OK, one for each drive, it means that there are no immediate serious errors that it thinks at least. If it says something other than OK, then one of your drives could be having issues and you should REPLACE IT.
The other way to check for drive errors is to go to command prompt and run the Check Disk command, by typing “CHKDSK /f”, which will search for and try to repair errors on your drive. If you consistently get a lot of errors, again that may mean your drive is failing. This is why you always want to back up. ALWAYS!
Check the Windows File Integrity
Back at the good old command prompt, type in “SFC /scannow” to run the system file checker, and it will try and find any system files that are missing or corrupted and try to repair them. Now there are a ton of possibilities for error messages it could spit back at you, so if you get one, you’ll just have to Google it yourself.
Check for memory errors
If you have bad memory, it can cause ALL sorts of weird problems that you might never guess has to do with your RAM. To do this go to the start menu and search for “Windows Memory Diagnostic”. Now careful, don’t click “Restart Now” unless you actually want to restart this second. You probably would rather check on next startup, and restart whenever you want.
After you restart it should just start automatically and tell you if anything comes up. Or if you want to get advanced you can press “F1” to change the test settings, but that’s not really necessary. If you get a lot of errors it could mean that your RAM isn’t seated properly, or one of the sticks is faulty and needs to be replaced. If the RAM is actually bad, replacing it is really the only option. And alright finally for the free options, though there are a couple non-free things I’ll mention in a second after.
Reformat the hard drive and reinstall windows
This is obviously the most extreme option, but if you have consistant issues that you can’t seem to fix no matter what, a fresh installation of windows is often the best way to go. Or you can try out these options. but these involve actually buying new hardware, so they are not free. First, you can buy an SSD to replace your main hard drive. Sure you could get a small one and just boot Windows off it, but SSDs are much cheaper today to get a big one. Let me just tell you, there is probably nothing that will make your computer run faster than getting an SSD.
Of course assuming the rest of your computer isn’t ancient. And once you get one, you’ll never want to go back. The other thing you can do is MAYBE buy more memory, depending on how much you have now. If you have 8GB of RAM or less, and you do more than just check your emails and type up word documents, you could probably benefit from getting more. However, I definitely think it would be much more beneficial to get an SSD first. And no, unfortunately you cannot just download more RAM, as awesome as that would be.
So I think that just about sums it all up, those should be the some great things to try if your computer is running slower than it should be. If I did forget anything though be sure to let me know, so leave a comment maybe with any tips you think would be helpful too.