5 Ways to Speed Up Your Windows PC

Is your PC moving at a snail’s pace? You could upgrade your machine with a solid state drive (SSD), but there are cheaper and easier methods for speeding up your Windows PC. More often than not, installing (or uninstalling) software updates and deep cleaning your hard drive is all you need to make your PC run more efficiently. When things start running slow, it normally means your computer is cluttered, and that’s a much easier fix than an internal-hardware problem (that’s another post for another day).

This handy MTE guide will help your Windows PC run as smooth and fast as the day you first set it up. Or, at least, it will get it running as close as it can get to brand new.

1. Update Your Software

Ensuring that your computer’s software is up to date is one of the easiest things you can do to increase the speed at which your PC operates. That said, a lot of your computer’s software could be at the mercy of third-party developers who don’t always bring their A game like Microsoft does when it comes to issuing updates.

You can check for software updates in Windows (I’m currently using Windows 7) by clicking on the following: “Control Panel -> System and Security -> Check for Updates.” Follow the onscreen steps to install the updates.

Update Your Software

2. Clean Out Your Files

Whether you know it or not, computers have a bad habit of getting overrun with unnecessary files that hog valuable space and bog down your PC. Take some time to go through your files and get rid of any outdated files; you don’t need entire application suites you no longer use. Deleting software you don’t use can also free up some memory on your hard drive as can deleting temporary Internet files and trial apps.

You can delete any unwanted apps in Windows by navigating to “Control Panel -> Programs -> Uninstall Program.” To delete unwanted files, all you have to do is Right Click -> Delete or drag the document to your Recycle Bin. Backing up any documents, music, or pictures you have to the cloud storage server of your choice will help speed things up too.

Clean out Your Files

3. Defragment Your Hard Drive

Saving and deleting files causes your data to be tossed across your hard drive in bits like the crumbs a toddler trails across the living room floor during an afternoon snack. So when your hard drive goes looking for something, it might have to search multiple locations, thereby slowing your PC down. Defragmenting your hard drive cleans up the mess and organizes it, making it easier for your computer to find something when it looks for it.

Defragmenting is incredibly easy to do, but you can take notes if you really want to:

If you’re running Windows Vista or later, your hard drive automatically defragments itself. On Windows, if you want to check when defragmenting is happening and change up when it’s scheduled to happen, just click “Control Panel -> System and Security -> Administrative Tools.” This is where you’ll find the option manually defragment your hard drive. The process will take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours when you defragement manually. It just depends on how bogged down your PC is.

Defragment Your Hard Drive

If you’re running Windows XP, your hard drive is not automatically defragmenting itself. In this case, I hope you have something else to do while your PC is defragmenting because it’s an unbelievably long process. If I may, I’d recommend Auslogics Disk Defrag (free) to streamline your defragmenting, save yourself a few hours, and speed up your PC.

If you don’t know if you’re running Windows Vista or Windows XP, just click “Start -> right click My Computer -> Properties.” If you see “x64 edition” under System, you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows XP; if you don’t see it, you’re running a 32-bit version of XP.

If you see “64-bit operating system” next to System Type, you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows Vista. If you don’t see it, you’re running a 32-bit version of Vista.

64-bit operating system

Note: If you have a solid-state drive (SSD), you should consider defragmenting everything except this drive. Defragmentation of SSDs are usually destructive and we don’t want that.

4. Optimize Your PC with Native and Third-Party Software

Third-party software can do wonders for your PC’s speed. The two programs listed below come highly recommended for cleaning up browser histories, deleting unnecessary files, unburdening your system, and improving overall speed.

  1. Antivirus Software – BitDefender and AVG Antivirus FREE 2015 are two great antivirus software options. Viruses can take a toll on your system, so it’s best to just avoid them all together with some good protection.
  2. Registry Cleaner – Registry cleaners are excellent for cleaning out junk and fixing errors on your PC. Installing a registry cleaner like Auslogics Registry Cleaner will quickly repair issues and clean up your PC, improving the speed of your system.

5. Clean Up Your Vents

The vents on your PC are there to prevent overheating and promote ventilation. However, computers are a little bit like the lint trap in your dryer, meaning that over time their vents can fill up with unwanted dirt and dust. Dirty vents can lead to overheating, and overheating can lead to slow performance, crashes, and random reboots.

You can use a can of compressed air to clean out your vents. Just hold the can upright and a few inches from your vent and press to release a short burst of air. Repeat until your vents are clean. If you’re not comfortable performing this task, you can always pay a visit to your local PC repair shop.

Conclusion

Trying the tips in the list will give you one of two results: Your computer runs much faster than it did before or you make zero progress. If your PC is still acting like it believes slow and steady wins the race, it may be time to consider upgrading. Every system has its limits, and once those are reached, it’s normally time to retire. Hopefully you performed the tasks on the list and prolonged the life of your computer. If not, it may be time to crack open the piggy bank.

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16 comments

  1. Defragmentation of a hard disc is meaningless now, unless you’re still working with a very old, unsupported operating system.

    No, seriously, just throw “should I defragment my hard disc” in google.

    1. Thanks for this post. I installed windows 10 yesterday yesterday but I was facing slow speed issue. Today I followed your instruction and now my PC is running awesome.

  2. Under what stone do you folks live? Seems you using stuff from the middleages, XP, Vista.. wow… Only some still using W7 here but most cheeseheads in the Netherlands switched to W8.1… P.S. consider getting rid of 3rd party antivirus altogether, they do more harm then good. I suggest limit to Windows Defender, CCleaner, Superantispyware, Malwarebytes (but no autostart for this one!) and to your browser add µBlock and Ghostery. (and learn how to use it). Also, I never keep files on my machine but save stuff to the always-inside SDcard.

    Cheers and keep up the good work – love this blog!

    1. Thanks for the feedback Mekong. Everyone’s entitled to their own personal preferences right? Just because Windows 8.1 is the latest and greatest from Microsoft doesn’t mean 7 is out of the game does it? I’ll give you the fact that W8.1 does speed well but and it offers better security but what about enterprise features and interface? I went back to Windows 7 after giving 8.1 a test run because it just seemed that it tries to do too much too quickly, it doesn’t support high-resolution monitors well (mines a 17″ 1920×1080), and it’s a closed platform. Windows 7 makes working much easier than 8.1 does as well, especially with a job like mine. What’s the point of using the “best” new software if you hate the way it operates?

      We’ll have to agree to disagree about the whole 3rd party antivirus software thing. Again, thanks for reading and thanks for the feedback!

      We love you too!

    2. From one cheesehead to another.
      You must be a nerd using the latest shit from MS aal the time.
      Thera re still loads of ppl outthere using W7 and older. Even in the Netherlands modt ppl do not have the money to buy the latest allt time.

      This post is meant for ALL pplt tha may benifit on its information. Don’t give a negative reply in the way you do

  3. By disabling unnecessary services, the performance can be improved significantly, especially on computers with low system resources , Easy service optimizer (Eso) is a portable freeware to optimize almost all Windows services (except windows 98 and below) and It does not require any technical knowledge , It is very safe to use because it changes only the startup typ of the services and You can restore them easily
    http://www.sordum.org/8637/easy-service-optimizer-v1-0/

  4. interesting article it just makes Windows healthier and will run with its original speed as it was running when newly installed. Getting better hard drive and processor can make the difference. Agreed when using heavy antimalware can make Windows slower because the realtime protection.

  5. Thank you for the article P. Edenfield. I am a Desktop Technician and do field support. YES!!! I have clients that use XP and Vista. Windows 8.8.1 truly sucks.
    Right now, I work at a hospital were a migration in to Windows 7 is taking place. What a lot of people DON’T know it that there are some application that won’t run on Windows 7/8/8.1 and forget about Windows 10. And NO, I am not allowed to install virtual boxes here. The hospital has to maintain the XP OS and the desktop the OS is installed. This is a true fact not only at hospitals, but research facility as well.
    BTW there are systems here with floppy drive and the annoying 3.5 disk, and zip drive. I kid you not! I take the people that commented DON’t work in the REAL world.
    Still, I can’t agree with the third party app installation. But still a much needed reminder for those of us trying to make a living in a antiquated IT field.

  6. Another way to speed up a Windows machine is to “Clear and Save” events from Logs maintained in the Control Panel Applet: Event Viewer, especially, the Windows Logs: Application; Security; and System.

  7. Defragging your hard drive is a great way to shorten its life by giving it a couple of hours of hard work to do. No other operation will make the read head move backwards and forwards as much as defragging. If your drive is a few years old, this is a great way to use up its remaining life.
    If reading data from your drive is taking longer, it could be because the OS is having to make multiple reads from a sector that is giving errors. This is your best warning of impending failure. Replacing the drive is a safe bet.
    Yesterday I was in the field supporting Windows 2k machines, because my customers IT will not support them. My software has been running on those servers for a dozen years, and have only rebooted after a power-outage. Not one crash recorded (and they record every little fault).
    At home I recently acquired a laptop with W8.1. I found it remarkably easy to learn to use – after about 3 hours I had mastered most of the things I needed to know. This was surprising after all the negative comments I had read. I found that for software that will not run immediately, there are work-arounds on the ‘net. Even XP apps that don’t run under Vista could be made to run on w8.
    I am not implying any criticism of those have difficulty with it. I have used every version of Windows since the first (it came on two floppy discs and was just called “Windows”), and I have spent time using Linux, Apples (IIe, F1, and Mac), GEM, and Android, so I am not so easily phased by the changing UI. Windows is still under there, and finding out how to make it do what I want is my idea of a fun pastime.
    I appreciate that younger people without such wide-ranging experience may find UI changes to be quite daunting. But don’t give up, because the next change is coming, and as sure as eggs is eggs so is the change after that. The world will not cease to move on, don’t let your prejudices mean that you get left behind.

  8. I’ve read many times over that cleaning up the Registry is of little value, performance-wise.
    Please explain.

  9. Step 1) Uninstall Windows
    Step 2) Install Linux, your choice of flavour
    Step 3) Enjoy your new, sped up computer

    1. GIGA – THUMPS-UP !!!

      The ONLY way to speed up your machine and prolong your own lifetime (not mentioning terms like ‘security’ or ‘privacy’)

    2. Bu8f of course! From Fedora to Gentoo there’s a flavor for EVERYONE!

  10. If browsing the web becomes slow, then there are several things you can do. Precise instructions will depend on which web browser you use (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer etc), but the main steps worth taking are common.Clearing out the cache can have a big impact – this is temporary data that don’t intended to make web browsing faster, buy can end up doing the opposite if too much build up over time.

  11. Your pointers were right on point. However, I am not sure I saw anything about disabling startup applications. I strongly believe that disabling those applications that run at start-up will do wonders for any computer, whether it’s Windows 7, 8, 8.1 or 10. Regardless, that process works.
    Source: http://errortools.com/windows/infographic-speed-pc-startup/

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