How to Enhance Your Windows 10 Performance

win10 disk
Windows 10 slows down over time. Learn how to improve its performance even if your computer is out of date or not a top-of-the-line model.

It’s no secret that tools degrade over time and require regular maintenance to continue working properly. Computers and smart devices are no exception. Sometimes the blame for decreased performance can be placed on the hardware, but the software side of the equation is often at fault in many situations.

In the past, Microsoft’s Windows, the most popular operating system, always had to be tweaked for performance. With time,it would get too bulky to run swiftly, resulting in poor user experience and the inability to run certain applications.

The new version of Windows, Windows 10, seems to have taken care of that problem. Some credit can also be given to the development of faster hardware.

That being said, if you pay close enough attention, you may still notice degradation in the performance of your machine. This is why we’re sharing the following tips to help you get your Windows 10 computer running faster and better than ever.

Enhancing Your Windows Performance

Don’t worry, none of these tips we’ll be sharing will make you break your piggy bank. Most of these tips will point you towards tools and utilities you already have access to in Windows.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t need to spend any money to get the performance you require. Performance does largely depend on hardware. However, it’s best to try to get the most out of your existing hardware setup before upgrading any physical components.

Some hardware upgrades may be required if your computer is older, but we’ve left those until the end of the guide since they should be considered a last resort. Let’s get started with some software tips to increase the performance of your Windows 10 computer.

Starting Up

1. Boot Menu Time

What?

When you start up your computer, there is usually a small pause that lasts for a few seconds. During this phase, you’ll be able to see the Boot Menu.

Why?

This screen allows you to choose to either continue with the normal Windows startup or to enter into the BIOS settings for additional options. You can also choose the operating system here if you have more than one installed on your computer.

This small pause can be reduced to help Windows start faster.

How?

1. Open the Start menu and type “control panel” in the search bar.

System options

Windows system options

2. Click Control Panel and then search for the System option and open it when you find it.

Fig 2 - Opening Startup and Recovery options_1

Opening Startup and Recovery options

3. Choose Advanced systems settings.

4. Click the Settings button under the Startup and Recovery header.

5. Right beside the option of Time to display the list of operating systems, enter the number of seconds you want the Boot Menu screen to be displayed and then press OK.

2. Fast Startup

What?

Fast Startup is a feature that was first introduced in Windows 8 and is also available in Windows 10. It is essentially a combination of shutting down and hibernation mode.

Why?

In hibernation mode, a file for your current session is saved on your hard disk and some power is being used by the computer. The computer is not completely shut down.

In Fast Startup mode, your computer does shut down, but it saves a smaller file for your kernel on the hard disk and loads up from there once the computer starts. Session information is lost. This allows for a faster startup while still completely shutting down the computer.

How?

1. Open the Start menu and type “control panel” in the search bar.

Fig 3 - Opening Power Options_1

Opening Power Options

2. Search for Power Options and click it.

Fig 4 - Turning on fast startup_1

Turning on Fast Startup

3. Click the Choose what the power buttons do option.

4. Click on the Change settings that are currently available option and then set the Turn on fast startup (recommended) option as checked.

5. Click the Save changesbutton.

3. Remove Unnecessary Startup Programs

What?

Once your computer starts up, it begins loading up programs that are set to open upon startup. This is done to ensure that the programs essential for daily tasks are available as soon as possible. This can include antivirus software or a VPN, both of which are essential for a good cybersecurity plan.

These programs are loaded in RAM and run as background processes.

Why?

Usually after some time, instead of only a few essential programs, your startup programs list is filled with unnecessary applications. All of these programs take up RAM space and slow your computer down.

It’s best to only keep essential programs and remove others.

How?

1. Right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager from the options menu.

Fig 5 - Disabling startup programs_1

Disabling startup programs

2. Click on the Startup tab.

3. Here, you will see a list of programs that start when Windows boots up. On the far right side of the program name, under the caption of Startup Impact, you can see the particular program’s impact.

4. Right-click any of the programs that you think shouldn’t be there and then click the Disable option.

Optimizing App Usage

4. Free Your RAM

What?

When running your computer, make sure that you’re only using apps needed to complete the tasks at hand. Do not use or open unnecessary apps.

Also, make sure to terminate any processes that you don’t need to complete the tasks of the day.

Why?

Any programs that you open and any processes running in the background require RAM to operate. The more programs and processes there are, the more RAM that’s used and the harder your computer has to work.

Your computer needs ample memory to work fast. The fastest memory it has is its RAM. If it’s filled with data that it doesn’t need, then the programs you’re trying to use will be negatively affected. It will have to keep loading chunks of data from the hard disk to the RAM to keep the process going, which further slows down the computer.

Processes like Search Indexing should also be turned off for low-end or older computers.

How?

The first step is simple: don’t open any apps that you don’t need.

Now to turn off the background processes.

1. Open the Task Manager by pressing the Ctrl, Shift and Esc keys together. (You could also right-click anywhere on the Taskbar and then select Task Manager from the options.)

Fig 6 - Ending process_1

Ending a process

2. Go to the Processes tab.

3. Right-click any processes that you don’t need at the moment and select the End Task option.

4. Make sure that the processes you kill are not Windows processes. You will know if they’re Windows processes since they will be under the Windows processes header.

5. Turn Off OneDrive Sync and All Other Syncs

What?

Microsoft OneDrive continuously looks for any changes in the documents you have set to sync and updates them when there is a change.

To give your computer a performance boost, turn off the automatic syncing option for OneDrive and all other programs you have set to automatically sync.

Why?

Any software that’s set to auto-sync is continuously using RAM, eating precious space and computer cycles to keep an eye out for changes that may never come.

Not only that, but any syncing done between your computer and an online service eats up more resources while it’s passing data or just checking for differences between the current document and the one stored in the cloud.

It’s best to turn these off for performance benefits.

How?

1. Go to the far right area of the taskbar, to the notification area. Look for the OneDrive icon that looks like a cloud. Click on it.

Fig 7 - Pausing syncing_1

Pause OneDrive syncing

2. When the OneDrive window opens, click on the More… button in the bottom right corner.

3. Select the Pause syncing option.

4. Decide how long you want to pause it and then click the option for that time period.

5. You can resume automatic syncing by following the same steps and choosing the Resume syncing option instead of Pause Syncing.

For any of the other syncing software, follow their respective steps to pause or stop auto-sync.

6. Update Windows, Device Drivers and Other Software

What?

Find out which devices and software on your computer need to be updated and then schedule a time to install the updates. Check for any hardware updates and install them as well.

Windows 10 is notorious for hitting users with an update when they least expect it. While it may seem like you’ll never miss an update with this feature, you should still frequently check for updates manually.

Why?

Software updates aren’t needless, there’s always a new feature or bug fix in each one.

Windows continuously updates its software to perform to the best of its ability. There can be security updates or updates that take care of some processes that don’t run as they should.

Hardware manufacturers regularly find tweaks that enhance the performance of their devices. They release new device drivers so users can get the most out of their devices.

This is also true of software. This is why it’s best to keep the most updated versions of Windows, device drivers and other software you have on your computer. Just make sure that the new version is supported by your hardware.

How?

Checking for updates and applying them is simple. Just complete the following steps:

1. Click the Start button and then search for the Settings app. Open it.

Fig 8 - Checking for windows and driver updates._1

Checking for Windows and driver updates

2. Go to Update & Security and then select Windows Update.

3. Click the Check for updates button.

4. Here you’ll be presented with the You’re up to date status or the Updates are available status.

5. If updates are available, press the Install now button, select the required updates and press Install.

6. Once they’re installed, restart your computer.

Clean Up

7. Clean Your Disk

What?

Clean your hard disk to free up space previously occupied by unnecessary data. At the very least, make sure the driver your Windows 10 is installed on has maximum space free.

Uninstall unnecessary programs, delete extra data and empty the Recycle Bin. You can use the Disk Cleanup tool or the recently introduced Storage Sense for that.

Why?

The more free space your hard disk, the easier it is for Windows to perform its tasks. It doesn’t have to manage shifting chunks of data from the RAM to the hard disk, or vice versa, and it can easily manage the space as it sees fit.

The effect of cleaning up your disk will seem much more significant if your hard drive is nearly full, but it’s still best to remove junk even if you still have plenty of free space.

How?

Search for any data on your hard disk that you don’t need and then simply delete it.

Open up the program’s folders in your hard disk and search for the uninstall file. Uninstall the programs you don’t need.

You can also do this by completing the following steps:

1. Click on the Start button and type “Apps & Features” in the search box and press enter.

Fig 9 - Uninstalling apps._1

Uninstalling an app

2. Open the Apps & Features page.

3. Here, you’ll see a list of all the apps installed on your computer. You can sort them if you want.

4. Click on the program you want to uninstall and then click the Uninstall button.

For Disk Cleanup

1. Click on the Start button and then type “Disk Cleanup.”

Fig 10 - Running Disk Cleanup_1

Running Disk Cleanup

2. Open the app and select the drive you want to clean up. Press OK once you’ve selected it.

3. From the results, select the type of files you want to remove and then click OK.

4. If you want to, you can create even more space by selecting the Clean up system files button.

For Storage Sense

1. Click the Start button and then type “Storage.”

Fig 11 - Turning on Storage Sense_1

Turning on Storage sense

2. Open the Storage System settings option in the search results.

3. Here turn on the Storage Sense utility.

With Storage Sense turned on, Windows will detect any unnecessary files and delete them on its own.

8. Viruses, Spyware and Malware

What?

Remove any viruses, spyware or malware from your computer.

Run the antivirus software you have and remove any security threats. If any of these include software from your trusted developers, then search the support forums to see why they’re treated as a threat. Only allow this software if you absolutely need it and trust the developer.

You can use the built-in Windows Defender feature if you don’t have another antivirus program.

Why?

Most viruses either try to steal your data or do something else that can benefit the hackers that created the virus. They reside on your hard disk and in the RAM of your computer, slowing down the performance or completely freezing active processes.

Spyware, malware and ransomware all do the same with varying degrees of performance reduction. Removing these viruses is not a recommendation, but is mandatory to protect yourself and your data. A good VPN can keep your computer from becoming infected in the first place.

How?

Windows Defender runs on its own and informs you whenever it finds a threat with a recommended action. It’s usually best to take the recommended action. Be sure to keep Windows Defender up-to-date to make sure it’s able to catch all threats.

To run a scan yourself, do the following:

1. Open the Start menu and search for “Windows Defender Security Center.” Click on the app to open it.

Fig 12 - Updating Windows Defender and running a Quick Scan_1

Updating Windows Defender and running a Quick Scan

2. Click the Virus & threat protection option.

3. Click the Quick scan button to run a quick scan of the system or click on the Protection updatesbutton to download the latest virus definitions.

4. Click on Protection updates to access the updates screen first and press the Check for updates button.

5. Once that’s done, run the Quick scan.

9. Use the Built-In Troubleshooter

What?

Run the built-in Troubleshoot utility. Fix the resulting problems by going through the recommended options.

Why?

Any problem that your computer finds may have the potential to hinder performance. A problem-free computer is smooth and efficient. Any problems, errors or crashes raise red flags on your computer, so it’s best to take care of them.

How?

1. Click on the Start button and search for “troubleshoot.”

Fig 13 - Running the built-in Troubleshoot-er_1

Running the built-in troubleshooter

2. Open the Troubleshoot app.

3. Under the Find and fix other problems, click on a problem to run the troubleshooter for it.

4. Follow the recommended steps to fix the issue.

Performance Tweaks

10. Performance Mode

What?

Choose the High performance mode from the power options of your computer. Plug the charger in if you’re using a laptop. Don’t use the Power saver mode as it’s designed to hinder performance to conserve battery life.

Why?

The Power saver plan maximizes the efficient use of the battery. This efficiency comes at the cost of performance.

This is why you want to choose the High performance plan to improve your computer’s performance. Make sure that your battery charger is plugged in if you use a laptop since the High performance plan drains the battery much faster.

When unplugged, use the Balance option which is a compromise between higher performance and maximum battery life.

How?

The High performance power option can be turned on by doing the following:

1. Open the Start menu and search for “power plan.” Select the Choose a power plan option from the search results.

Fig 14 - Selecting the High performance power plan_1

Selecting the “High performance” power plan

2. Click on the Show additional plans header to reveal the High performance option. (Alternatively, you could select the Balanced (recommended) option as well, under the Preferred plans header.)

3. Click on it to mark it as checked and then exit the Control Panel.

11. Appearances

What?

Windows 10 has been designed to be aesthetically pleasing, but these looks come at the cost of software and hardware resources. Choose the visual settings that are best for performance instead of appearance.

Turning off the transparency in the Taskbar, Start menu and the Action center can make a noticeable difference.

Why?

Visual effects take a toll on the CPU and memory usage. For lower end or older computers, keeping up with the appearance features of Windows 10 can be fairly difficult and can put a strain on the system.

How?

You’ll need to adjust the appearance settings in two areas.

First, the visual effects:

1. Right-click the This PC icon and select Properties.

Fig 15 - Setting appearance for performance_1

Setting appearance for performance

2. Select Advanced System Settings from the left side and then click the Settings button under the Performance header.

3. Under the Visual Effects tab, select the Adjust for best performance option and then click Apply.

Now to remove the transparency, follow the steps below:

1. Click on the Start button and search for “settings.” Open the Settings app from the results.

Fig 16 - Switching off transparency_1

Switching off transparency

2. Click on the Personalization option.

3. On the left-hand side, click the Colors option.

4. Set the Transparency effects option under More options header to Off.

12. Page File Size

What?

Manage the page file size on your hard disk. The page file is the portion of your hard disk that Windows is using as temporary RAM when your actual RAM is full.

You can increase the page file size if you want to. However, it’s best to keep it automatic to let Windows decide what size it prefers in a particular situation.

Why?

Whenever the RAM of your computer is filled up, Windows starts using a portion of your hard disk as temporary RAM. This is considered a last resort for the computer because the hard disk is considerably slower than the RAM.

This is why it’s advised to keep your RAM as empty as possible by limiting unnecessary programs and processes to a minimum. This is also why free space should be kept on the hard disk so Windows can use it as memory when absolutely necessary.

Increasing the page file size means that in the worst case scenario, Windows has no shortage of space to use as memory.

How?

1. Right-click the This PC icon and select Properties.

Fig 17 - Setting page file size_1

Setting the page file size

2. Select Advanced System Settings from the left side and then click the Settings button under the Performance header.

3. In Performance Options, select the Advanced tab and then click the Change… button under the Virtual Memory header.

4. Mark the Automatically manage paging file size for all drives option as checked and click OK.

5. You can also manually enter the size of the page file by selecting a drive and then clicking the Custom size option.

Shutting Down

13. Turn Off Your Computer

What?

When you’re done working on your computer, turn it off every once in a while.

Why?

Fast hardware and convenience of use enable users to let their computers or laptops run all the time. Properly shutting down a laptop instead of just closing the lid is likely a rare occurrence for most people. Even though this is a very common practice, Windows isn’t designed to run constantly.

Not shutting down your computer forces Windows to keep current processes and session data in its memory, which will become cumbersome with time.

Shutting it down or restarting it will kill all the processes and clear the RAM. When you start it again, you’ll be working with a clean slate.

How?

You’ve probably done this before and it’s a very simple process. Just do the following:

1. Press the Start button and then select the power icon right above it.

2. Select the Shut downor Restart option.

Bonus Tips – Hardware Solutions

If you’ve tried these tips and there’s still no sign of improvement on your computer, then it may be time to upgrade your hardware or reinstall your Windows 10 software.

You could also try to reset Windows by recovering from a backup when everything worked as it should.

However, if you have decided to improve your hardware, then choose one or all of the following options, which will put less strain on your bank account and will likely have a significant impact.

1. ReadyBoost

What?

Use the ReadyBoost utility to improve your computer’s performance.

Why?

ReadyBoost helps improve the performance of your computer by utilizing an external flash drive as RAM. While the hard disk can be used as memory in a pinch, flash drives are much faster and serve as better surrogate RAM.

This is only the case if you have a hard disk drive. If you have a solid-state drive, your drive will be faster than an external flash drive.

How?

You’ll need a flash drive of at least 500 MBs. You can also use an SD card.

1. Insert the flash drive in one of the USB ports.

2. In File Explorer, right-click the drive and click Properties.

3. Under the ReadyBoost tab, click on the Use this device option.

4. Once Windows determines whether the drive can be used or not and if it has the space required, click OK.

2. Increase RAM

What?

Physically add more RAM to your system.

Why?

RAM is the fastest memory of your computer.

Every process uses RAM not only to load itself but also to load the required data. If there is less space available in RAM, then slower memory options are used, slowing down processing.

If your computer setup allows it, purchase and add more RAM to your system. This is the most economical option aside from using a flash drive as external memory.

How?

Search online for the RAM specifications for your particular device. There are likely limitations to the amount of RAM you can add and it’s important to make sure you buy the right kind. Once you’ve found the appropriate product, purchase it and ask the hardware support personnel to help you install it on your computer. It should be fairly simple.

3. Use A Solid-State Drive (SSD)

What?

Use an SSD in your computer system instead of a rotating hard disk drive.

Why?

Even the slowest SSD is at least 10 times faster than a conventional hard disk. The pro versions are even faster.

An operating system installed on an SSD will be much faster because of the higher data read and write speed.

How?

Purchase an entry-level (or better) SSD and get it installed in your computer with the help of hardware support personnel.

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You can use one or all of the tips we’ve shared above to improve the performance of your Windows computer. The software options are all free and should be tried first, but it may be necessary to resort to hardware upgrades. If your laptop is fairly old, it may make financial sense to buy a new laptop instead of upgrading your old one.

Whatever you decide to do, we hope you found this guide helpful and you’re now able to use your Windows 10 computer at its peak performance.

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