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A slow computer can throw even the most patient folks into a fit of rage. Whether your computer takes forever when booting up or freezes regularly, any time you wait for the system to get its act together amounts to wasted time.
Since your computer’s performance is greatly affected by what’s under the hood, hardware upgrades will provide a big boost in speed. However, there are also some quick fixes that will up your speed in minutes. Here are ten little boosts you can try right now.
1. Speed Up Startup
If you can run down the street to grab a coffee in the time it takes your computer to boot, that’s unacceptable. There are two big areas you should check if your computer takes too long to start.
First, you should disable any software from running at startup that you rarely use. Many programs automatically enable this when you install them, such as Skype. If you only use Skype once a month, it’s just wasting system resources in the background.
You can review and disable startup items on Windows 10 by pressing CTRL + Shift + ESC to open the Task Manager, then clicking the Startup tab. Right-click any entry and choose Disable to remove it from startup. If you’re not sure which items to remove, check out our top ten programs that you don’t need at startup.
Second, you should disable Fast Boot. This poorly-named feature supposedly reduces startup time, but has caused more harm than good for many users. To disable this, type Power Options into the Start Menu, then Choose what the power buttons do on the left sidebar.
Click Change settings that are currently unavailable at the top of the screen to grant administrator privileges, then uncheck the box for Turn on fast startup (recommended). Hit Save Changes and you’re all done.
Check out more tips to fix slow boot times if you’re still having problems.
2. Make the Start Menu Load Faster
When your Start Menu takes a while to open, you can edit a Registry value to make it appear faster. Remember that editing the Registry can be dangerous, so don’t touch anything other than the specified values while you’re in the editor.
Open the Registry Editor by typing regedit into the Start Menu. Browse down to this key:
In the right panel, find the MenuShowDelay key and double-click it to edit. This number is the amount of milliseconds a menu will delay before it opens; 400 is the default. We don’t recommend setting this to 0 as every menu would become instantaneous, so try changing this to 200 first and see if that feels better for you. Once done, log off and back on to apply the change.
3. Get that Right Click Menu Nice and Snappy
Like running at startup, a lot of software automatically adds its own entry to your right-click context menu. If you notice it takes a long time to right-click, that menu is probably longer than your screen.
The key is removing entries you don’t need from the context menu, and we’ve recently discussed everything you need to know about this. With fewer items clogging up the menu, Windows loads it faster, and you won’t notice such a delay.
4. Defragment Your Drives Quickly
Manually defragmenting your hard drive is much less important than it was years ago because Windows automatically defragments drives on a schedule. Note that solid-state drives (SSDs) don’t need defragmenting! Either way, you probably haven’t opened up the Windows disk defragment utility in years.
However, if you’re on an older version of Windows with a mechanical hard drive, you might not be satisfied with how long the process takes. For a better experience, we recommend Defraggler, an alternative to the built-in tool. This utility from the makers of CCleaner provides more information and a faster process than the Windows default. Remember that if you have an SSD, you should not defragment your drive!
5. Get to this PC Instantly
This PC, formerly My Computer, is a hub for accessing all the drives and devices attached to your computer. Prior to Windows 10, the Windows Key + E shortcut opened a File Explorer window right to This PC, but now it opens to Quick Access.
To restore the old shortcut, open File Explorer and click the View tab at the top. Click Options on the right side to open the Folder Options window, and change Open File Explorer To: to This PC.
Aside from this, you can also prevent Windows from automatically finding devices on your network, which can slow down the loading process. Type Network into the Start Menu to launch the Network & Sharing Center, then click Change advanced sharing settings on the left sidebar.
You’re probably on a Private connection at home, so look for the Turn off network discovery option and enable it. Click Save Changes and This PC should take less time to load.
6. Populate Programs and Features Faster
With dozens or even hundreds of programs installed, the Programs and Features section of the Control Panel might take forever to load. There’s not much that will fix this aside from uninstalling some software, but you can use an alternative uninstall utility if you like.
These tools provide several advantages over the stock Windows method. Most of them automatically create a restore point in case something goes wrong, can uninstall programs in bulk, and remove leftover junk that the Windows utility might miss. With all these benefits, extra speed is just a bonus.
While you’re looking, make sure you don’t have any of the programs you should uninstall on your computer!
7. Prevent Unresponsive Programs from Hanging
Programs (and Windows) crash more often than we like. Everyone has seen the dreaded white sheen over an unresponsive program, and clicked “End Task” to kill it. Sometimes, though, even this takes a minute or more.
We’ve shown how to kill frozen programs without using the Task Manager, which is a great way around these hangups. Using a kill script or the SuperF4 utility to terminate programs forces their closing, instead of asking nicely like pressing the X button does. If you have this problem often with a particular program, it’s probably worth reinstalling it to fix any corruption or damage.
8. Disable Fancy Features for Better Performance
Windows includes all sorts of little visual enhancements that make it more pleasant. However, this eye candy takes up system resources. You can turn these features off if you prefer performance over visuals.
To do so, type performance into the Start Menu and click Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows. You’ll see a list of animation elements that you can toggle on or off. By default, most of them are on; you can click Adjust for best performance to disable them all at once.
This disables small bits like windows moving in real time when you drag them and pop-up animations of windows. After a day or two, you probably won’t even notice these are missing.
9. Speed Up the Shutdown Process
A slow shutdown is almost as annoying as a slow startup. If you’re turning off a laptop and taking it somewhere right away, waiting for the “Shutting Down…” screen for ten minutes is infuriating.
While it might be a bit tougher to diagnose than a slow boot time, we’ve covered everything you should check when Windows takes forever to shut down.
10. Improve Performance with Lighter Software
Though popular, some software weighs heavily on system resources. With only a gigabyte or two of RAM in an older machine, you’ll feel a slowdown with just a few Chrome tabs open. Until you can upgrade your hardware or get a new PC, you should switch up the software you’re using.
Try a cloud-based antivirus program to keep the strain off your system, and look into a different web browser since Chrome is such a resource hog. Midori is a lightweight browser that’s a great choice for less powerful machines; Maxthon Nitro is incredibly fast, as well.
What Are Your Quick Tips for a Faster PC?
We should reiterate that these quick fixes won’t fix major underlying speed issues. If you’re still using Windows XP or have a decade-old machine, you won’t see much of a benefit from these tips. However, if you’re having a problem with a specific area above or want to eek out every bit of speed from your system, these tweaks should come in handy.
If these tips don’t cut it for you, check out more scenarios that could be slowing your computer down and habits you should build to keep slowdown from happening.
Now it’s your turn! What are your bite-sized tips for making your computer run faster? Let us know if any of these boosted your PC’s performance and add your best tips down in the comments!