If you have a severely laggy computer, chances are you’re tempted to get a new one to replace it. But before you get too trigger-happy, we’ve assembled this guide to help you speed up your computer and breathe some new life into it. We also have advices on when you should just bite the bullet and buy a new one.
1. Uninstall Any Leftover/Unwanted Programs
First, the most obvious step: get rid of any leftover or unwanted programs left on your system! We don’t recommend doing this manually through Windows. Instead, use IOBitUninstaller or another third-party uninstaller. The benefit of using a method like this as opposed to doing it in Windows is that you don’t have to uninstall programs one by one. You can just check them off a list, and all trace files and folders are actually deleted.
2. Disable Startup Programs
Ever notice that your computer is at its slowest when you’ve just turned it on? If that sounds accurate, chances are you have too many startup programs enabled. You should disable unnecessary startup programs so they don’t bog down the system.
To disable startup programs, just right-click your taskbar and select “Task Manager.”
Within Task Manager, choose the Startup tab, and you can individually enable and disable all startup programs.
3. Run a Full Malwarebytes Scan
Suspect that your computer might be bogged down by malware? Even if it isn’t, we recommend running a Malwarebytes scan at least once every one to two weeks, depending on how active you are online. Malwarebytes is a free, industry-leading tool for protection against viruses, ransomware, malware, and the like.
For the best results, consider running Malwarebytes in Safe Mode.
4. Enable High Performance Power Plan
By default, Windows is not configured to fully utilize your hardware. You can take a peek into the Power Options to confirm it. To do that, type “Choose a power plan” in your Start Menu and click the matching result to open it.
By default, “Balanced” will be selected. To improve performance, select “High performance” – your power draw may be slightly higher, but if you’re reading this article, you probably need all the power you can get.
5. Use Lightweight Alternatives for Your Favorite Applications
This one isn’t necessarily speeding up your PC so much as speeding up your experience by opting for more lightweight applications. You can find a light version of just about any kind of application you’re looking for, but as a starting point, we definitely recommend searching for a lightweight web browser – click here to see our recommendations!
6. Optimize Windows Performance Options
Windows actually takes a pretty significant amount of power to run on its own, especially modern versions of Windows with more extra features and prettier graphics. Here are a few visual tweaks that can improve your experience.
The first and most major visual feature to disable is Transparency. You can find this one by right-clicking your desktop and left-clicking “Personalize.”
Within the Personalization window, choose the “Colors” tab, then switch Transparency effects off.
Open Start and type “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.” To maximize performance gain, select the entry “Adjust for best performance” and click “Apply.” If you find yourself missing any visual elements, you can always come right back and enable them here.
7. Disable Unused Windows Features
There are a wide variety of Windows features that take up a lot of performance but may not even be utilized by the end user. To alleviate this issue, we recommend disabling Cortana and using W10Privacy to cut down on as many unneeded extras as possible.
8. Run a Windows Repair
Using Tweaking.com’s free Windows Repair application is a simple way to correct registry errors and other issues that crop up in a Windows installation over time. The application will also help you run a disk check and a system file scan to ensure that your hard drive is working properly and that you have all the required system files before you begin to run the heavier repairs.
This will work best if you run it while within Safe Mode.
9. Use Built-In Reset Options
On Windows 10, it’s fairly easy to perform a Reset. In this context, a reset means a complete reinstallation of your operating system.
In order to perform this reset, simply type “Reset this PC” into your Start Menu and select the corresponding entry. After that, click “Get started” in the resulting pop-up window, and Windows will walk you through the rest of the process.
10. Switch to a Lightweight OS
If everything above fails, another way to speed up your computer is to replace Windows with a lightweight OS, like Linux.
Sure, the user interface will be different and your favorite applications might not be available, but there are plenty of Linux distros that are well-suited for Windows users and plenty popular applications are available for Linux, too. It just requires a little time and effort to get used to it, and who knows, you may like it so much that you make the switch permanently.
If you are already on Linux, learn how you can speed up a Linux PC.
11. Upgrade Your Hardware
If your computer is really old and slow, instead of getting a whole new PC, you can just upgrade some of the hardware.
The biggest improvement you can make to speed up an old computer is the addition of a solid-state drive (SSD). This will massively improve OS and application load times.
The addition of more RAM should improve performance across the board, but it can be hard finding the right RAM suitable for your old motherboard, and there might be a limit on the max RAM it can support. Refer to your motherboard manual and check out the things to take note of before you upgrade RAM.
When to Just Buy A New Computer
If you can’t speed up your computer with the above tips to achieve the results you want, it might be time to buy a new computer. Newer applications often require newer hardware – no matter how you optimize your old machine, running at maximum efficiency isn’t going to be able to compete with modern hardware. All is not wasted, though, as even if you got a new computer, there are still plenty of uses for your old PC.