10 tips for speeding up a slow PC

PC Performance
PC Performance

Just like automobiles, PCs need tune-ups once in a while in order to continue operating properly for the long haul. Whether you experience severe frustration each time you sit down at your PC, or you're looking to maximize your productivity with a small boost to performance, you don't necessarily need to invest in a whole new computer. These tips should get your PC unstuck and running again at its full potential.

Restart your PC

Yes, this is simple, and may seem obvious. No, you might not have restarted your PC in a while. Using the sleep function is quick and easy, but restarting your PC clears RAM, installs any pending updates, and fixes potential problems with apps being open too long. This is almost always a great first step when trying to boost your PC's speed.

Change your power plan

Windows 10 has several power options built in for your convenience. The default plan is balanced for performance and energy use. If you're not concerned about using too much energy, change the plan so that you're getting maximum performance.

How to change your power plan in Windows 10

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type power options in the Windows search bar.
  3. Click Power Options.

  1. Click the drop-down arrow next to Show additional plans.
  2. Click High performance.

Free up space on your hard drive

RAM only does so much — when it's used up, programs will borrow memory from the hard drive. If your hard drive is full...well, there isn't anything to borrow from. Using Disk Cleanup will clear up space taken by temporary files and caches that don't need to be there.

How to run Disk Cleanup in Windows 10

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type Disk Cleanup in the Windows search bar.
  3. Click Disk Cleanup.

  1. Click the drop-down arrow beneath Drives.
  2. Click the disk you want to clean.

  1. Click OK. The utility will scan to see what files can be removed.
  2. Click the checkbox beside any categories you'd like to clean.

  1. Click OK.
  2. Click Delete Files.

While Disk Cleanup is a good start, you will also want to go into your hard drive and manually remove irrelevant programs (like bloatware) and files. Old photos, videos, and music can also be transferred to an external drive. Every hard drive benefits from a purge.

Optimize your files

As files are moved around — created, deleted, modified — they become fragmented; the hard drive will write part of a file in one place and the rest of a file in another place. When you try to access the file later on, it takes your PC longer to find all the pieces. Imagine putting a puzzle together when the pieces are scattered throughout your house. Using the defragment tool collects pieces of files and puts them together on your hard drive.

How to defragment your hard drive in Windows 10

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type defragment in the Windows search bar.
  3. Click Defragment and Optimize Drives.

  1. Click the drive you'd like to defragment. 5.Click Optimize.

Your hard drive will begin the defragmentation process. Note: defragmenting is only useful for spinning platter-based hard drives. If you're using an SSD (solid state drive), defragmenting is not recommended.

Make your startup faster

If your PC has been around for awhile, you might have added (knowingly or not) permissions for programs to run at startup. These programs take priority from essential boot processes, slowing your startup. The programs continue to run, slowing everything down while you work. The solution? Cut the programs that aren't essential.

How to optimize your startup in Windows 10

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type start up in the Windows search bar.
  3. Click See which processes start up automatically….

  1. Click a process you'd like to disable from running during startup.
  2. Click disable. Repeat these steps for any processes you'd like to disable.

Get rid of unnecessary animations

Moving windows, opening the Start menu, and many other motions have visual effects that can slow down your computer's performance. The visual effects can be configured for best performance, or you can choose which animations to remove individually.

How to disable animations in Windows 10

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type performance in the Windows search bar.

  1. Click Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.
  2. Click any animations you'd like to disable. The check disappears when it's disabled.

  1. Click Apply.
  2. Click OK.

Root out malware

Malware infects your computer and makes it do things other than what you want it to — this takes up memory and processor threads, resulting in reduced performance for you. Windows Defender scans your computer and roots out malware embedded in your processes. Not only will this speed up your computer, but you'll also be less vulnerable overall.

How to scan with Windows Defender on Windows 10

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Type defender in the Windows search bar.

  1. Click Windows Defender.
  2. Click Scan Now.

Do without Flash

Flash was once an essential part of the internet – not so much anymore. Those annoying auto-play ad videos that cause your computer to slow to a crawl? Blame Flash. Security holes when you load a webpage? Blame Flash.

There is a movement to remove Flash in lieu of HTML5 and Silverlight, but Flash fanatics aren't quite ready to let it go. Microsoft Edge has the option to turn off Flash player capabilities. You will lose some functionality when visiting websites, but big ones (like YouTube) have already moved away from Flash. Try out the internet without Flash — you can always reinstall if you can't live without it.

How to remove Flash from Edge

  1. Launch Edge from your taskbar.
  2. Click the More button located in the top right corner. It looks like three horizontal dots.
  3. Click Settings.

  1. Scroll down and click View advanced settings.
  2. Click the switch beneath Use Adobe Flash Player so that it turns off.


Still find your computer is running slowly after tweaking settings and removing malware? Depending on the tasks you're trying to accomplish, adding RAM to your computer might be your best bet.

It's relatively inexpensive and easy to install. There are a ton of options to choose from when buying RAM; just remember that more is generally better. If you're uncomfortable choosing the right RAM for your PC, Newegg has an excellent function that shows you what RAM is compatible with your system and links to buy it.

See at Newegg (opens in new tab)

Invest in a solid state drive

Adding a solid state drive (SSD) to your PC will undoubtedly speed it up. If you use the SSD as a startup drive, you'll have Windows booted and running faster than you've ever seen. SSDs are good for more than just startups — from media editing to gaming, everything you click on will load faster due to a lack of moving parts. There are plenty of SSDs to choose from; size, manufacturer, and price are up to you to choose.

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

How's your PC?

Is your PC running slowly? Did you take measures to clean it up? How does it run now? Let us know your tips for speeding up a slow PC in the comments below.

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

  • Yes, I have a tip. Increase your virtual memory.
  • Increasing virtual memory won't speed up your PC, it might actually make it slower.  If the OS is swapping to virtual memory (due to lack of RAM) then it's going to run poorly.  Giving it more virtual memory isn't going to help.  Adding more RAM or shutting down processes that aren't needed is the only thing that will help that situation.
  • Add more ram... 16Gb would be nice and then switch Virtual Mem OFF.
  • Buy/download more RAM online, LOL
  • Lol my thoughts exactly :D
  • Hi, how can I delete windows 7 backup file from my pc?
  • Run the disk cleanup utility and make sure you allow it to display system files https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/17421/windows-free-up-drive-space
  • You mean after upgrading to Win 10? Through disk cleanup.
  • Add RAM.. Surface Pro 4.
  • Can you actually add RAM to the Surface Pro 4? I figured it would be soldered on. If you can even get to it easily.
  • Yes. You can add ram by buying a new one :)
  • Ha.
  • That tis funny...have a down vote!
  • My Win10 PC is quick as hell only once I'm on my desktop. I've removed a ton of things from start up already but find that it sit's at the spinning circle for a good 30 sec before my log in screen appears. Best part is I'm running a Core i7 4790k @ 4.7ghz, 16 GB ram and a Samsung EVO 850 Pro SSD. Meanwhile, my first gen Dell Venue 8 Pro with Win10 takes like 5 sec to boot to login at best lol. Same with my laptop. I don't get it.
  • It's probably less of a hardware thing and more something to do with your manufacturer. They haven't done something/haven't updated something.
  • There's a technology called 'Rapid Startup', IIRC, that makes the device to boot very quickly. It may be active in your tablet and laptop, and off in your desktop.
  • EVO 850 Pro? EVO and Pro are different models of Samsung SSDs. A SSD can't be EVO AND Pro.
  • Sorry, meant Pro, not EVO.
  • my cheap dell boots faster then my wife's $4k gaming computer. Intel is working on firmware for the SSD in her PC so Samsung may need to do the same.
  • I have no boot issues with my 850 Pro, nor my dad with his 950 Pro that I've heard. Also don't know how you make a $4,000 PC for gaming, I'd literally be lighting money on fire at that point. I'd also say that how the thing is set up is probably troublesome, if any of that is true.
  • its a known problem with the Intel PCI SSD. the computer was fast before the last firmware update. I guess its all in the type of games you play and your wallet.
  • I have a tip, get a Signature Edition PC, not only is it bloat free, they are optimized in-house by Microsoft themselves to ensure a certain quality bar of performance.
  • Instead of buying a whole new PC, you'd initially rather make a fresh install. In win 10 it's pretty convenient.
  • Tip 11 that I consider the more important one than others is to clean up your device physically, by cleaning up chassis fans, cpu fan, and heat sink and replacing thermal grease on the cpu . Devices accumulate dust over time and thermal grease although usually very durable, dries up and doesn't keep the heat off properly. Dust on CPU fan and excessive heat also causes it to enable throttling and slow down
  • Isn't Windows Defender often teased about being useless? I perosnally don't have an opionion of it, but it's what I often hear.
  • So you could try it and make one for yourself. It's actually pretty convenient, and really unobtrusive compared to other antiviral apps.
  • I quite like windows defender, doesn't use much resources and does it's job effectively. I've used Avira, Avast pro and Kaspersky in the past, but since switching to windows 10 in 2015 I've never missed any of them.
  • They've made it quite good in windows 10.It is enough for you if you're an average user but if you torrent,you might need antivirus
  • This article is pretty poor. Except for autostart app removal and adding an SSD, these steps won't do much. Defrag? Windows does that by itself. Disable flash? Has nothing to do with speed.
  • If you think Flash has nothing to do with PC performance, go try to open a shady site supported by video ads in two browsers--one with AdBlock and one without. Flash ads wreck performance.
  • Ok, this is a bit exaggerated, but true. Since I don't browse the web without a decent adblocker (uBlock origin), I didn't think of this.
  • Yeah, this site is actually one of the worst, in that regard. Windows Central is the #1 reason I use AdBlock now. I'm all for supporting a site, and I have no issue with ads, but this site's got so cripplingly bad that I basically had to choose between AdBlock and not coming to the site, out of frustration. FanGraphs is similar.
  • Hehe, yeah. But the performance is still extremely bad even with adblock! It's impossible to accept this from a tech savvy site. Still, the content is fine.
  • Funny, I'd say the opposite. I have no performance issues on this stie with AdBlock, but there's quite a bit of "fluff" content I'd love to see take a hike.
  • Open the same page, one with flash and one without then TELL me that it's nothing to do with speed.
  • Don't buy an all-in-one and expect desktop performance. That helps, since all-in-one PCs are built with laptop parts. Don't buy anything with a HDD, only go with flash-based SSDs. Use AdBlock in a supported browser to stop ads' bogging down of the browser. Use the Task Manager to kill the Flash process, if necessary, same for unresponsive programs. Restart your PC nightly to get updates. Check for new drivers. Don't keep a computer for 5+ years.
  • Right click on taskbar, run task manager, there you can see memory/cpu/disk/nework usage, also I recommend to turn off startup apps....
  • "Turn off startup apps" is too much of a blanket term. Some barely affect the PC's startup time. Some matter, and having to turn on those apps manually because you want the neglibile boot speed increase, is counterproductive. If you have a SSD in the computer, startup times aren't going to be affected as much by startup programs, either. Lastly, while I am all for Task Manager use, people also have to be careful. If you don't know what you're doing, maybe stay away from it. It's no fun to have to restart the computer because you killed the Windows Explorer process and the thing won't recover itself.
  • Some motherboards on desktop and laptop pc have a slot for a small Sata SSD card that can be added to your motherboard. You can find them on Ebay but make sure it fits. Asus laptops use a smaller card. It can make your spinning HD like a hybrid HD. My cold boot time went from over 3 minutes to about 25 sec. My accessing of the HD went to about half. Note you need caching software to control the files that are cached on the SSD. I use PrimoCache which is good but there is a charge for it.
  • There are two kinds of SSDs: PCI-E and SATA. The SATA ones are what whe overwhelming majority would use (PCI-E ones are incredibly expensive). All SATA ones are 2.5", so there isn't an issue of size or compatibility. What's more, all motherboards have SATA ports for those drives. ASUS laptops don't use a smaller anything; all use 2.5" drives. The larger drives, 3.5" ones, are for desktops, and that size really isn't used for SSDs. It's nothing like a hybrid drive either, a hybrid drive is a tiny SSD with a large HDD. Going with a SSD is a lot faster, as it's full flash memory and usually from a better source. The cache software, no idea what you're even talking about. I've known exactly 0 people who have used any kind of special, third-party software on a SSD, despite those folks totaling double-digit SSD purchases.
  • I actually bought a cache drive, 32gb drive that loads data in on the sad and the os is fooled into that being drive c: Nice idea but crashed a lot so used as an o/s drive only
  • Reinstall your os that'll fix it.
  • There's the bin outside. Time to upgrade.
  • In order of most to least effective:
    1) upgrade to a SSD. Yes, kind of a pain, and not an option for some devices. But the drives are cheap, and win10 install media is free on their website, so it is much easier to do than it use to be (your key is even in BIOS these days, so no need to re-enter random characters to activate! yay!). 2) Your mileage will vary as to if adding more RAM will help or not. Right click on start, select "Task Manager", select "more details", go to the "performance" tab, and look at your RAM usage. Load up a bunch of applicaitons that you normally have open, and check your RAM usage. If more than 80% of your RAM is in use, then it is time to buy more. Typically 4-8GB is enough for most users who browse the web, watch videos, and play little games. 8-16GB is generally enough for most gamers. 16-64GB is typically for professional content creation (hard core audio, video, and photo editing), and 64+GB is really for rare cases where you are creating RAM drives, running several VMs, etc.
    Generally, if you have enough, then adding more will not help, but if you don't have enough then adding more will be a dramatic difference. 3) Dont run 100 things in the background at all times. Right click on start, task manager, more details, startup tab (or older OSs press Start and search for 'msconfig'). On the startup tab unckeck anything that you do not use.
    *warning* do not uncheck the boxes next to your OS, antivirus, or device drivers (things like 'intel' or 'touch pad driver'). Also, things that you use all the time like Google Chrome can also stay as you will likely open it shortly after startup anyways. But things like stupid updaters, and software that you don't use all the time can be disabled. These programs will still open just fine when you tell them to open, and will update at that time rather than checking for updates every time you turn your PC on.
    *note* you will need to restart your PC to have this take effect. 4) Download and run CCleaner. First run the registry checker. Bad entries in the registries can slow things down because it is basically the OS trying to go down rabbit trails every time a certain process is called on. Sometimes a process with a bad reg entry needs to do a full 10-60 seccond timeout where it simply sits there waiting for something to appear that isn't going to show up.
    *note* you may need to run this a few times before everything is really cleaned out. You may have 2-12 entries that will not clear, and that is fine compared to the 100+ that you will find on a fresh clean install of windows, and the near 1,000 bad entries you can find on poorly maintained machines.
    Once that is all cleaned up, do the file cleanup. This will delete old installers, temp files, certain customizations, etc. You may want to check the box to remove old OSs. This will prevent you from being able to roll back to your previous Windows install... but it can also save you 20-50GB of drive space... worth it!
    *note* you may want to unceck the boxes for stored usernames, passwords, browser history, etc. These things don't slow down your computer much, and are typically super convenient to keep around. 5) Run MBAM (Malwarebytes Anti Malware). Do the free trial. If you find that it complains about certain sites you go to then stop going there. If after the trial ends you find it didn't catch much then just run the free version and manually scan your computer every few weeks. If you do find things then spend the money to buy for the full version. You can buy it on their website, or for $5 less you can get a 3 PC version on https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
    *note* this is NOT anti-virus. It does not replace antivirus, and you still need to run antivirus. But viruses typically don't slow down your computer, where malware does, so you really need both. 6) Run your antivirus. Personally I just use defender, and it works pretty well. But if you cannot help but infect your computer and need a parent to look over your every move then look into some nany-ware like Norton Antivirus. It WILL SLOW DOWN YOUR COMPUTER, but not as much as a terribly infected computer will. So if Defender is not enough, then go for it. 7) Once done removing all the dead wood out of your computer *then* run the disk optimizer or defragmenter on your PC. On SSDs it will run the TRIM command to do garbage colleciton and make your SSD run smooth and last longer. On HDDs it will put all your files back in one piece instead of being scattered all around the drive, and push your files towards the edge of the drive where the best performance is.
    Doing this process before you are done removing files will not help a whole lot and you will need to do it again afterwards, so best to do it once at the end. Hope that helps someone!
  • Almost forgot!
    Run an ad-blocker on your web browser.  Chrome, FireFox, and Edge (after the summer update) all support Adblock or Adblock+, and both work really well.  This will dramatically speed up websites (Windows Central included!), prevent unwanted cookies and tracking from building up on your computer, remove the temptation to buy useless crap, and generally make the world a better place. That said... websites rely on advertisements to stay in business, but they can be supported other ways as well.  You can pay Google directly and they will split your payment across the websites you visit that rely on Google ad support.  On sponsored articles click on the links to the products mentioned to give them a few hits.  You can buy swag from the website's store (Who doesn't want some Windows Central swag?).  Some sites have a direct payment system (thurrott.com will be adding this).  So if you aren't going to view their adds, throw some other dollars their direction!  They certainly earn their paychecks!
  • You should have written the original article. Great advice.
  • Your ram use is subjective due to Superfetch.  People need to understand Superfetch.
  • Want to speed up your pc? Buy a new one
  • Solid state drive is the way to go for OS and regular HD for files.
  • Adding Ram? I work in a tech store and we have tons of people who say "I want to buy more ram my pc is so slow..." That's Bullshit Ram has absolutely nothing to do with speed in the first place. Yes it helps you Multitasking faster. If you already have 3 or 4 gig ram and cleaned up your background programms, windows should run absolutely smooth. For the average user 4gb ram is more than enough. And the cheapest Laptops nowadays always have 4gig (except those ****** netbooks from acer)
  • I work in a building with computers. 4Gb is 'just' enough for most people. Install Chrome, iTunes, more crap and then open a few tabs. 4Gb vanishes in the blink of an eye. Ideally 8Gb would be far more than enough. 4Gb just cuts it for most. 
  • 8gb should be the min for most computers these days. 4gb causes a lot of swapping if you open a lot of web browsers or have big outlook PST. It will help with performance but, not too much with speed (If your swapping out to a standard hard drive, having more memory could stop this and could make it faster in some cases) My Primary machine has 32gb on it and even my HTPC has 16gb on it....It does make a nice performance boost...
  • Those tips wont do stuff.maybe a bit but seriously just backup your important data and reinstall the os. Done and done.
  • Replace Windows Defender. My system became more responsive after I switched to Bitdefender Total Security. Look at AV-Comparatives charts for performance impacts.
  • Doesn't 'seem' to be a free product.
  • I know. Not free. But Avira and Avast and AVG got free products that have lesser performance impact on the system. None as as hassle-free as the built in solution, but Microsoft does need to tune up their Anti-malware engine for better performance. P.S. Bitdefender has a really nice free solution too.
  • The rubbish collector just collected up the bin where I threw my **** laptop. Ordered a brand new SP4.
  • Another tip, change the startup of non-critical services to "Manual" or "Delayed". Helps a lot. Disable unnecessary services entirely.
  • Be carefull with this one, disable the wrong thing and your computer might not start.
  • All good tips.
  • Good article. Nothing I didn't already know but at least this is an article which has no BS. Hard to say for Windows central or should I say MS propaganda central..
  • Ram does not really make your PC faster but, it will help with performance. The best upgrade you can do for is to swap a standard hard drive to a SSD.  Check out your hard drive size and how much space your using. For Example you have a 1tb drive in your computer but, your only using 150gb of it, a 240/250gb SSD would do fine, or larger depending on your needs. It's not that hard to do, just do some reading, swapping out a drive, just needs to be cloned to the drive and replace it.