How to Speed up Your Computer? [All The Methods Explained]

Georgi Karaivanov
Georgi Karaivanov

Updated · Aug 24, 2022

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Having a slow computer is one of the most frustrating experiences one can have.

Here’s an uncomfortable truth:

Over time, every computer will slow down.

There can be many reasons for this – from junk file build-up through malware infections to failing to keep up with new software. 

As all the above are manageable, we decided to show you how to speed up your computer performance.

Let’s dive in!

How to Speed Up Your Computer?

There are many tools to help alleviate some of the weight off of your system – from custom software to tinkering around with your settings. 

Here are the top nine ways to speed up a PC.

Close Background Processes

Do you want to know the number one reason your computer might not perform as fast as it once did?

Background processes.

These are programs running in your PC’s background that aren’t fully closed. This causes them to take up extra memory and resources, causing your computer to slow down. Getting rid of them can massively improve computer speed.

How do you do that?

The best way to do it on Windows systems is by opening the Task Manager. You can do that by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc. Then click on More details, and go to the Processes tab. You should see a big list of every process currently running and how much resources it takes up.

Task Manager open

Not every process in this list is safe to terminate. Ending some of them may cause your system to become unstable. So only end the tasks you’re familiar with.

There’s even a way to sort the processes, so the most demanding ones show up at the top. You’ll be surprised to learn how many programs keep running even after you’ve closed them.

Close Startup Programs

If you want a more permanent way of increasing the speed of your computer, you may want to do this.

Your computer keeps a list of all installed programs that are set to automatically run upon startup. Aside from slowing down your PC, this can also cause longer boot times.

Here’s how to get rid of them.

Once again, you’ll have to open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc. Then click on More details and open the Startup section of the window. This will open up a list of all the programs that automatically launch on startup.

Closing Startup Programs

The best way to speed up your computer is to disable as many programs as possible. Especially the ones you don’t use frequently.

Run a Virus Scan

If your computer’s performance drops suddenly, this might be a sign that something is wrong.

Sometimes, the culprit is malware.

Both Windows and macOS have built-in antivirus protection. Macs come with XProtect and Gatekeeper, while Windows PCs have Windows Defender. In 99% of cases, this is more than enough.

But if you want to be extra sure, you can always go for third-party antivirus software.

Performing a thorough virus scan will detect any potentially unwanted files in your system. It’s in your best interest to either quarantine or delete any detected file. This will increase your computer speed and get rid of malicious programs.

Of course, the best way to protect yourself against malware is to be careful online. Don’t visit suspicious websites or download random files.

Free Up Disk Space

Here’s something not many people know.

If your hard drive is nearly full, this will considerably inhibit your PC’s ability to operate smoothly. It’s good practice to always leave at least a dozen gigabytes of free space on your hard drive.

This is an efficient way to speed up a laptop since they tend to have less space than desktop PCs. 

Now, is there an easy way to clean your disk space?

By going into the Windows Settings and clicking on Apps, you’ll see a list of all your installed programs. You can then sort them by size to see which are taking up the most space.

Apps in Windows Settings

You can then select the ones you don’t need and uninstall them, freeing up precious disk space.

Defragment Your Hard Drive

One of the reasons behind performance loss over the years may be disk fragmentation.

This tends to happen if you’ve been using your hard drive for a long time. Over time, the data in it gets fragmented, losing efficiency and causing it to slow down

Disk defragmentation is a quick way of speeding up an old laptop or desktop computer.

So how do you do that?

First, open the Start menu and type in defragment. Click on Defragment and Optimize Drives. A window will pop up displaying your computer’s drives. Click on each of them and select Analyze.

Defragment and Optimize Drives

The computer will then run diagnostics on whether the drive is fragmented and in need of defragging. If the results say OK, then all is good. But if it says Needs optimization, click the Optimize button. This will defrag the selected drive.

Delete Temporary Files

Programs on your device can store so-called temporary or temp files. Their purpose is to make apps run smoother. But over time, they can build up and clog your machine, leading to slower performance.

Deleting them is safe and will, in fact, speed up a slow computer.

Here is how:

Open the Windows Start menu, type in Disk Cleanup, and select the first option. Afterwards, click on Clean up system files. This will show you a list of all the directories with files that are safe to delete.

Clean up system files option selected

Simply select the ones you wish to clean up and hit OK.

However, you should be aware that some folders, like the Recycle bin, may contain files important to you. Be sure to check to see if there isn’t anything you need before deleting it all.

Run a Registry Cleaner Software

How can cleaner programs speed up your PC?

Software like CCleaner or Cleaner One automatically detects so-called junk files that may slow down your system. They’re kind of like an antivirus, but for more benign software.

Now, there’s nothing registry cleaners can do that you can’t do manually. 

However, they do speed up the process. It’s good practice to run a registry cleaner once every few months to clean up temporary files and system junk.

Reset Your Operating System

This is a bit of a more extreme measure.

But if you’re finding your computer increasingly hard to use, resetting your OS altogether is guaranteed to speed it up.

What is a system reset, and how does it speed up a slow computer?

Simply put, it deletes all files and resets your computer back to how it was when it was new. And while this may seem drastic, it’s a good choice for severe cases of computer slowdown. The negative side is, of course, you’ll lose all your data unless you back it up.

How do you reset your operating system?

Fortunately, doing so with Windows 10 and 11 is super simple.

First, open Windows 10 Settings and head to Update & Security. Then, on the left, click Recovery. There, you’ll see a section called Reset this PC, with a button that says Get started. Select it.

Recovery option selected

You’ll see two options: Keep my files and Remove everything. If you’re looking to make your computer as fast as possible, select Remove everything.

What happens next?

You’ll be asked if you want to redownload Windows from the internet or do a local reinstall. A local reinstall is faster and doesn’t use extra internet data. However, if your system files are corrupted, you might want to redownload the OS entirely.

A local reinstall option selected

Finally, you’ll see a list of all the apps to be removed.

This is your last chance to change your mind. Once you reset your PC, everything will be deleted.

If you choose to go ahead, click Reset to start the process.

This can take several hours to complete, depending on the computer. But when you’re done, your PC will be as good as new.

Upgrade to a Solid State Drive (SSD)

The best way to speed up a computer is by slotting it with a Solid State Drive (SSD).

What is that?

Most computers have a Hard Disk Drive (HDD). SSDs are an alternative to hard drives. They have the same function but are way, way faster. A computer running on an SSD will take just a few seconds to boot up.

But there’s a catch.

First, SSDs can be expensive. You’re essentially buying an entirely new computer component, so expect to spend a few hundred bucks.

Second, this is not an option for laptops.

While laptops can technically have their components switched out, doing so is much more difficult and risky. If you’re looking to speed up your laptop, your best bet is to purchase one that already comes with an SSD.

Third, the storage space.

SSDs are great. But their main drawback is their storage space is generally smaller than HDDs. While you can easily find an SSD with a terabyte of storage, they would be much more costly.

All this may seem like a lot of negatives, but the truth is, SSDs are a real gamechanger.

A computer running on a solid state drive will be lightning fast. Opening apps is nearly instant, and restarting the PC takes mere seconds.

So, while upgrading to an SSD is an expensive option, it’s absolutely worth it.

Wrap Up

Slow PCs are frustrating. We all know that.

Fortunately, learning how to speed up a computer is easy, and you get to pick from various methods.

From shutting down background processes and cleaning out your hard drive to resetting your PC altogether – you’ll see some improvement whichever way you go. And while none of these will make your computer feel exactly like brand new, it’s a step forward.

The unfortunate truth is there’s no magic way to make a PC run blazing fast.

This is just a consequence of older hardware trying to keep up with newer and more demanding software. But if you take the steps in this article, your overall experience will definitely be smoother than before.

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Georgi Karaivanov

Georgi Karaivanov

My fascination with technology began from quite an early age thanks to computers and video games. Nowadays, I love anything related to music production and astronomy. Coincidentally (or is it?), both of those have a great deal to do with tech. Honestly, most of the stuff that can be accomplished with modern electronics kind of seems like magic to me. This is why I feel this strong need to constantly learn more about it and talk about it, almost to the detriment of others.

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