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How to Make a Slow PC Fast Again (9-Minute Blueprint)

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How to Make a Slow PC Fast Again (9-Minute Blueprint)

Key Points

  • PCs slow down over time due to the accumulation of additional programs and files, increased load on the hardware, and degradation of hard drives and solid-state drives.
  • Uninstalling unwanted programs and disabling unnecessary startup programs can help improve PC performance.
  • Other methods to make a slow PC faster include enabling diagnostic startup, disabling search indexing, uninstalling antivirus programs, disabling Windows visual effects, resetting Windows, uninstalling Microsoft bloatware, upgrading to a solid-state drive (SSD) or dual-channel RAM, and upgrading to a more powerful CPU.

Does this situation sound familiar? You buy a brand-new computer and are impressed with its performance and speed. Everything is fine and you have no issues. Then, all of a sudden, your PC slows to a crawl and can barely handle basic tasks like watching YouTube videos or browsing the internet. What happened? Is there anything you can do to make a slow PC fast again?

As it turns out, there are lots of tweaks and tricks that you can use to improve the performance of a PC. These range from Windows optimizations to hardware upgrades. In this article, you’ll learn how to breathe new life into your PC. So, you can hold off on replacing the system for now.

Let’s get into it.

Why Does a PC Slow Down Overtime?

PCs slow down over time because additional programs and files accumulate in the operating system, which increases the load on the hardware. The processor has to handle more background services and apps and that can take a toll on performance.

Hard Drives (HDDs) and Solid State Drives (SSDs) also degrade with time and can slow down when near full capacity. Overheating is another reason PCs slow down because the CPU throttles to prevent damage. While it’s normal for a PC to slow down over time, with a few tricks, you can make it almost as fast as when you bought it.

Method #1: Uninstall Unwanted Programs

One of the easiest ways to make a slow PC faster is to uninstall unwanted programs. Most people install programs as needed but rarely remove them, which adds bloat to your system. To uninstall programs, type Settings into the search bar and select Apps.

A list of Window's apps and features sorted by Name.
Windows Apps & Features section where you can find and uninstall unwanted programs.

The list will be populated with all the apps installed on your computer. From here all you have to do is browse through the list and remove any that are no longer needed. To clear up drive space, sort the list by Size. You can also access the list through the Control Panel and Uninstall a program.

In some cases, an app will appear in one of these panels but not the other, so it’s a good idea to check both lists. Generally, it’s recommended to keep the programs from Microsoft Corporation, as they’re usually essential programs.

Method #2: Disable Unnecessary Startup Programs

Uninstalling unnecessary apps should remove them from the startup lists but some can linger. Many prebuilt PCs and laptops come with lots of bloatware that can slow down your computer, hogging important resources. Here’s how you can clear them out:

Windows Task Manager program showing a list of startup programs.
Disabling unwanted startup programs is a great way to make your PC faster.

Press CTRL + ALT + DELETE to open Task Manager and select the Startup tab. Here you will see all the programs set to run when your PC powers on. Most of them are not essential. Check the Publisher name if you’re not sure.

Right-click on a program and select Disable. The next time your computer boots, that program won’t launch in the background. Scroll through the list and disable any program that is not needed.

It’s best to start with programs that have a High startup impact. For example, startup programs that can severely impact performance are Battlenet and Steam.

Method #3: Enable Diagnostic Startup

You can use Window’s Diagnostic Startup mode if you don’t know which startup programs to disable. This mode will only load the essential drivers and services the operating system needs to run. It’s an easy way to disable all startup programs without having to disable them one at a time.

Enabling Windows Diagnostic startup will force the computer to only load essential programs and services.
Instead of disabling each program one at a time, you can use Diagnostic Startup to only boot essential services.

To do that, press the Windows Key + R and type MSCONFIG. In the General tab, under Startup selection, select Diagnostic startup (Load basic devices and services only). Reboot your computer to save the changes. This is also useful when troubleshooting for viruses.

When you reboot with all the unwanted startup programs disabled, your PC should be much faster.

Method #4: Disable Search Indexing

Search Indexing is a Microsoft feature that scans and lists every file on your computer, making it easier to find those files when you need them.

The problem is it can take up a lot of resources, and most people don’t search for files that much anyway. Of course, disabling this feature will make the search feature much slower than before. Disabling it will moderately improve system performance.

Uncheck "Allow files on  this drive to have contents in addition to file properties" to improve performance.
Disabling Search Indexing can improve performance on older machines.

To disable Search Indexing, open Windows Explorer, right-click on your system drive, and select Properties. At the bottom of the window, uncheck the setting to allow files on this drive to be indexed. When you click Apply, the computer will update file settings.

Windows Search Properties and the options for Startup type.
An additional step is to disable search indexing from starting during startup.

Next, type Services into the search bar to open a list of services. Locate Windows Search, right-click it, select Properties, and change Startup Type to Disabled. Restart your computer to save the changes. You can always enable search indexing at any time.

Method #5: Uninstall Anti-Virus Programs

Back in the day, computers were more vulnerable to viruses, and antivirus programs were highly recommended. Nowadays, Windows has a built-in antivirus service called Windows Defender that does a good job of protecting your system. You don’t really need any additional antivirus programs.

Window's Virus & Threat Protection service that keeps your computer virus-free.
Microsoft 10 has a built-in virus protection system that does a good job of protecting your computer.

In fact, antivirus programs like Norton and AVG AntiVirus can severely impact performance on your PC because they’re constantly running in the background. Not to mention these antivirus programs can randomly start scanning your computer for viruses when you’re in the middle of something.

If you want to use an antivirus program, Malwarebytes is a good choice. It often catches things that slip past Windows Defender. You can also take a look at our recommended antivirus programs here.

Generally, having an antivirus program on your computer is fine, but you should disable it from the startup and manually run scans as needed. Removing antivirus software from startup is an easy way to make a slow PC faster.

Method #6: Disable Windows Visual Effects

This tip is best for older machines that don’t have good onboard or external graphics. Disabling all Windows visual effects can make things faster and it can boost frames per second in games.

Window's System Properties showing visual effects that can be disabled to improve performance.
Disabling all or some of Window’s visual effects can improve the performance on older machines.

To disable visual effects, type Advanced System Settings into the Start Menu and open the first result. Next, under Performance, click on Settings, and select Adjust for Best Performance. You can also disable specific effects from the list.

These visual effects are not very demanding and most modern computers can handle them without any issues. However, older machines that have weak onboard graphics could benefit from disabling these effects. It’s worth a test.

Method #7: Reset Windows

Resetting Windows is a surefire way to clear out any software issues that could be slowing down your computer. Resetting Windows will almost always make your computer faster because it resets everything back to the core operating system files.

The option to Reset a Windows PC which include "keep my files" or remove everything.
Resetting a PC is a nuclear option for clearing out any unwanted programs and resetting everything to default settings.

Of course, you can choose to keep your programs and files, but it’s recommended to completely remove everything to start fresh. So, if you take this path, it’s important to backup your important files first. You can take a look at our recommended cloud storage options here.

Microsoft made it easy for users to reset their machines. Open Settings, Update & Security, and Recovery. Under Reset This PC, click on Get Started, and select whether to keep your files or remove everything. We recommend removing everything.

Don’t worry, resetting your PC doesn’t require you to enter your Windows license key. When the process is complete, you’ll have a fresh copy of Windows installed, and it should be much faster.

Method #8: Uninstall Microsoft Bloatware

So, you removed all the third-party apps from your PC and the only ones left are from Microsoft Corporation. Windows has become quite full of unnecessary bloatware, and removing some of it can make your PC faster, especially on older machines.

A Windows debloat tool showing some Microsoft services that can be disabled.
Windows debloat software can remove unnecessary Microsoft programs from your computer but it can also have negative side effects.

There are a handful of third-party debloat programs that will remove needed Microsoft apps and services from your machine. Before you start, there are a couple of pointers to keep in mind. For one, these are third-party scripts and there’s a chance they can brick your operating system.

If you’re not comfortable with letting a third-party application make changes to your system, it’s best to skip this method. Secondly, some key Windows services might malfunction, particularly the Xbox Gamebar and other features.

The Windows Debloater we used can be found here. It’s relatively easy to use. Download the file, and extract it. Right-click on Windows10DebloaterGUI then Run with Powershell and allow the program to make changes to your computer. Now you can choose to remove all bloatware or just disable certain features such as Cortana or Edge. Removing bloatware can make a slow PC fast again but it can also have negative side effects.

Method #10: Change the System Drive to a Solid State Drive

Arguably the best hardware upgrade that will make a slow PC fast again is to upgrade from a hard disk drive to a solid-state drive (SSD). Changing your system drive to a solid state drive and re-installing a fresh copy of Windows on it will dramatically improve performance.

An SSD can make your computer much faster. Boot times will be quicker and everything will feel more responsive.

SSDs are many times faster than regular spinning disk hard drives. They can load Windows in a matter of seconds because the read and write speed of an SSD is much faster than hard drives. Everything will also feel more responsive. Video games will load much faster on an SSD drive. You can find more information about how an SSD compares to an HDD in this article.

The good news is that SSDs are very cheap nowadays. You don’t even need a particularly large drive for your system drive. It could be 256GB or 512GB, while you continue to use HDDs for bulk storage. If you want some SSD recommendations, read this article. Even very old PCs have SATA ports that you can use to hook up a SATA SSD.

Method #11: Upgrade RAM to Dual Channel

Now let’s move on to some hardware upgrades that can make a slow PC fast again. One quick and easy hardware upgrade is to upgrade to dual-channel RAM. The dual-channel RAM adds another memory lane for the CPU to utilize, which effectively doubles the memory bandwidth. You can learn more about how single-channel and dual-channel RAM compare here.

A person installs dual-channel RAM on a motherboard.

Two sticks of RAM will always unlock dual-channel mode. Many prebuilt PCs come with one stick of RAM, either 8GB or 16GB. Adding another extra stick of RAM will improve performance. Generally, with CPU-heavy games, upgrading from single-channel RAM to dual-channel improves the frames per second.

Another factor to consider is the speed of the RAM. It’s best to use the fastest memory that your motherboard can support, so you can squeeze out every drop of performance. Fast dual-channel RAM not only improves frames in games but also CPU-heavy tasks like rendering movies and whatnot. New motherboards also support quad-channel RAM.

Method #12: Upgrade to a More Powerful CPU

Finally, another significant hardware upgrade that will make a slow PC fast again is to upgrade to a more capable CPU. Since the CPU is the brain of your computer, a faster CPU will speed up every activity. Games will load faster and you should notice an increase in frames per second.

Upgrading to a better CPU is easier said than done. First, you want to take a look at your motherboard’s specifications to see which CPUs are compatible with your motherboard. You can read our guide on CPU and motherboard compatibility for more information. From there, research the compatible CPUs that are faster than your current one.

If you’re trying to make an old PC fast again, you don’t necessarily have to buy a brand-new CPU. You can save some money by using second-hand marketplaces. CPUs don’t degrade much with time and can last for many years. One example of a good upgrade is a Ryzen 5 3600 to a Ryzen 5800X3D.

Bonus Tip: Use a Different Web Browser

Some web browsers like Google Chrome are known to hoard memory, especially when multiple tabs are open. If your computer slows down considerably when multiple tabs are open, the web browser may be using all the available RAM. For computers with limited RAM (4GB or 8GB), it’s a good idea to switch to a different web browser. Firefox is a good alternative to Google Chrome and it doesn’t use much RAM. Nowadays, Window’s default web browser, Edge, is quite good too.

Wrap Up

So, don’t give up on your slow PC because you can make it fast again with some tweaks and upgrades. The easiest solutions are to upgrade your RAM and replace the HDD with an SSD. These two hardware upgrades will deliver a significant improvement in performance. If the performance is still not what you like, even after these tweaks, it may be time to buy an entirely new system. In that case, you can turn your old computer into a NAS server.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make my PC faster for free?

To make your PC faster for free, remove all unnecessary startup programs, uninstall unwanted programs, and disable resource-heavy services.

What's the best way to make a PC faster?

The best way to make a PC faster is to upgrade from an HDD to an SSD. It will dramatically improve boot times.

Is there any software that will make my PC faster?

There are lots of software that promise to make your PC faster but end up adding more bloatware to your computer. You can tweak your computer without software.

Should I use an antivirus on Windows 10?

Windows 10 has a built-in antivirus, so you don’t need to use a third-party antivirus program. If you do use an antivirus program, stick to a lightweight program like Malwarebytes.

Why is my computer so slow?

Your computer could be slow because there are too many programs open in the background.

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