Security Windows

How To Really Speed Up Your Computer – Common Myths & What To Do Instead

Joe Keeley 21-10-2014

You might have noticed that your computer has never been as fast as it was when you first got it. But do you know why our devices slow down over time? Many of us have a number of misconceptions about sluggish PCs, so let’s crack these open and find out how to actually speed things up.


There are myths about slow computers that still get rehashed to this day: keeping too many files slows your machine down; you need to buy as much RAM as possible Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes When Buying A New Computer I built a new computer a few years ago. I’ve always considered myself above average in the tech field, but looking back, I have a few regrets with the system I built - some of... Read More ; viruses are designed to make everything run sluggish. In actuality, these statements aren’t true. Although they do have nuggets of truth contained within, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Common Myths

Let’s run through some common misconceptions about slow computers. First, however, it’s worth pointing out that you shouldn’t feel foolish if you’ve believed or acted upon them. They’re “common” for a reason and in the past I’ve been under the impression that some of these were correct too.

Also bear in mind that the majority of these misconceptions won’t have actually harmed anything, although they might have caused you to misuse your time or money. But don’t worry about that now: let’s dissect them and see what we can learn.

Misconception 1: Malware is the reason for a slow computer

While it’s certainly true that being infected with viruses and spyware 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer We would like to think that the Internet is a safe place to spend our time (cough), but we all know there are risks around every corner. Email, social media, malicious websites that have worked... Read More can slow things down, more often than not you won’t notice much of a difference if your system has been infiltrated. These programs are designed so that you won’t notice them. The developers don’t want you to realise there’s something untoward going on, else you might attempt to remove it. Malware is mostly designed to steal your information – for as long as possible.



If you do suspect foul play, the best thing to do is to check your machine’s health. In fact, this is something you should be doing regularly; daily is best. We ran a comparison of some free anti-virus tools Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe What is the best free antivirus? This is among the most common questions we receive at MakeUseOf. People want to be protected, but they don’t want to have to pay a yearly fee or use... Read More , checking the performance and interface of products such as AVG and Microsoft Security Essentials. More recently, we also reviewed Avast Stay Protected From Every Type Of Malware With Avast Free Antivirus Comprehensive malware protection doesn't need to cost a fortune. Many reputable free antivirus programs are equally effective as paid ones, and avast! Free Antivirus stands with the best Windows antivirus programs. Read More  separately. Be aware, that you should only ever use one anti-virus program; not only do multiple anti-virus programs not make your computer safer, they can also cause software conflicts.

Misconception 2: Clearing personal data from your hard drive will boost performance

Most often, clearing personal data from your hard drive won’t speed up your computer. This could mean your photos, videos or music – no matter how huge these files might be, it doesn’t matter one bit. Unless…

There is one caveat to this. If your drive is dangerously low on space (like only a couple of GB being free), then your computer will drastically slow down. This is because most programs need room to dynamically grow and decrease in size, usually through the creation of temporary files. If there’s no room on the drive to store these, your system will crawl.



To overcome this, you can delete some of your files or invest in a new drive. You don’t even have to ditch your current drive if you don’t want to. Just get an external drive, attach it to your system and offload some of your less-often accessed data on there.

Misconception 3: Replacing and upgrading components is guaranteed speed

While you might think buying a new hard drive How to Install a New Hard Drive to Replace an Old One Want to replace your computer's hard drive? It's fiddly, but straightforward. Here's how to replace it and install a new HDD. Read More or investing in more RAM is going to get silky smooth performance, this isn’t strictly true. It actually depends on your system and the specific component that you’re buying.

Hard disk drives (HDD) are mechanical devices, meaning they have moving components inside. When you ask your computer to load up some data your hard drive has to physically work; it spins a platter and scans it with a magnetic head to find the data. Hard drives are commonly classed by revolutions per minute (RPM). Simply put, the higher this figure, the quicker your data can be accessed. You’ll notice improvement the greater the RPM, but eventually this becomes negligible for common use.

The real upgrade is going to come from moving from a HDD to a solid state drive The Complete Guide on Installing a Solid State Hard Drive in Your PC A solid state hard drive is one of the best upgrades available for a modern computer. It increases the load times of programs dramatically, which in turn makes a PC feel snappier. Results can be... Read More (SSD). SSDs use flash memory How Do Solid-State Drives Work? In this article, you'll learn exactly what SSDs are, how SSDs actually work and operate, why SSDs are so useful, and the one major downside to SSDs. Read More , like a USB stick or SD card, and don’t have any moving parts, thus can access data quicker. SSDs are currently much more expensive than HDDs, so it can make sense to split your system into two drives. The SSD can hold the operating system (the data that powers your system and is constantly accessed), while the HDD can contain all other files.



RAM is another component that is commonly thought of as providing buttery speeds. RAM is essentially where data in use is stored, so that the system can access it quickly. As you might expect, the more RAM How To Upgrade A Laptop's RAM, Step By Step Is your laptop old, slow, and has the hardware never been upgraded? Working on a slow computer can be a real drag. Before you buy a completely new one, however, you should consider ways to... Read More you have, the more temporary data can be stored on it.

The idea that RAM offers greater speeds for your computer is true – for the most part. As you’ve probably expected, this comes with some pitfalls. 32-bit versions of Windows Do I Have 32-Bit or 64-Bit Windows? Here's How to Tell How can you tell if the Windows version you are using is 32-bit or 64-bit? Use these methods and learn why it is important too. Read More are only capable of using up to 4GB of RAM. You can have as much as you want inside your system, but it’ll never use anything over the limit. Handily, Microsoft provides a list of the memory limits for all versions of Windows.

Misconception 4: Cleaning your registry speeds up your system

This is perhaps one of the grandest myths of all. All over the Internet you’ll find programs advertising the fact they can provide massive performance improvements to your computer by cleaning out your registry. This is utter nonsense. Registry cleaners provide no good use Using Registry Cleaner: Does Is It Really Make a Difference? Advertisements for registry cleaners are all over the Web. There’s an entire industry out there bent on convincing inexperienced computer users that their registry needs fixing, and that, for ten easy payments of $29.95, their... Read More .


The registry is a database that Windows and other programs use to store settings. Your registry may have some outdated files in it, perhaps from software you’ve used in the past and have since uninstalled. You might think that you need to get rid of these, but fact is they’re kilobytes in size and you’d never notice a difference even if they got removed.


The problem with registry cleaners is that they can end up removing things that are needed. Messing with the registry is not to be done lightly. You can severely break your system and it isn’t worth the risk.

Misconception 5: A fresh install of the operating system is the ultimate way to gain speed

It’s entirely possible to just wipe everything on your system and do a completely fresh install of your operating system. Some computer manufacturers will have this function built in as a recovery partition, allowing for a few simple button presses and reverting everything back to how it was when it left the factory. You can factory reset your Windows PC 4 Ways to Factory Reset Your Windows Computer Want to know how to factory reset a PC? Here are the best methods to reset a Windows computer. Read More  in a few different ways.

Naturally, this is going to help speed up your system because it’ll remove everything How To Restore, Refresh, or Reset Your Windows 8 Installation In addition to the standard System Restore feature, Windows 8 has features for "refreshing" and "resetting" your PC. Think of these as ways of quickly re-installing Windows -- either keeping your personal files or deleting... Read More you’ve ever stored or installed on the computer since you got it. While you might fancy the idea of nuking your system and going back to day one, it’s not entirely advisable for a number of reasons.

First of all, perhaps most obviously, you’ll have to go through the effort of putting data back on and reinstalling programs you need. It goes beyond that, though – think about any tweaks you’ve made to your system in getting it set up just how you like it.


Following on from this, unless you actually change the way you use your computer then it’s eventually just going to slow down again anyway. All those programs will build up once more and you’ll be left in the same position as before the wipe. While a fresh install can be advisable when nothing else speeds up your system, it shouldn’t be the go-to choice.

A more advisable approach to take is to create regular images of your system. Lots of programs will let you do this. Creating an image of your system How to Use Clonezilla to Clone Your Windows Hard Drive Here's all you need to know about how to use Clonezilla to clone your hard drive in the easiest way. Read More essentially means making a mirror copy of absolutely everything. Unlike data backup, which usually just copies your personal files, a system image will replicate every single bit of data stored on the drive. You can choose how often you want it to take an image, but every month is a good place to start. That way, if you experience severe system slowdown, you can revert back to a former copy of your system.

The Best Ways To Speed Up Your System

We’ve covered misconceptions on how to provide speed, so let’s now turn to methods that actually will provide enhancement. Handily, we’ve already published lots of content on how to accelerate your Windows machine.

Windows 7 Speeding Up Windows 7: Everything You Need to Know Read More

Most of these tips are ones that any user can carry out, regardless of their technology proficiency. For example, you might not be aware that some programs have been given permission to start automatically and constantly run in the background. Some of these you might not even use that often, if at all (in which case uninstall them), so keep your eye on start-up programs.


Additionally, some of the more fancy visual elements of Windows 7 can be disabled to offer greater performance. If you can forgo things like animations and Aero Peek How To Enable & Troubleshoot Aero Effects In Windows 7 Read More , get turning them off. Besides, there’s no use in something looking good if it doesn’t work as well as it could. You’ll especially notice a benefit if you’re on an older system.

Windows 8 How to Make Windows 8 Go Faster: 8 Tips For Improving Performance Whatever you think of Windows 8 (at MakeUseOf, our opinions are mixed), it’s certainly speedy. Windows 8 boots faster than previous versions of Windows, has lower memory usage, and has a desktop that feels nice... Read More

The Task Manager in Windows 8 The Windows 8 Task Manager: A Gem Hidden In Plain Sight While many parts of Windows 8 are debatable (maybe Modern is the future; maybe it's not), one element of Windows 8 that has undergone a massive overhaul and made it unequivocally more awesome is the... Read More is great for determining what programs are using up the most of your system’s resources. It’ll break every program down to show how much CPU, memory, disk and network juice they drain. The old processes list is still available for those who prefer it, but the new task manager allows you to see at a glance what might be causing issues.

Windows 8 Task Manager Processes

Another great benefit about Windows 8 is that it includes its own security applications Five Tips For Managing Your Security In Windows 8.1 Read More , meaning you don’t have to bog your system down with third-party suites. Not only will it check for viruses and spyware, but it’ll also analyse how trustworthy the programs you download are.

How Do You Ensure Your Computer Runs Smoothly?

We all love having speedy computers, right? Although it can sometimes be difficult to find the root cause of system slowdown, it’s always worth hunting down what the problem is. Life’s too short to be sitting around waiting for Windows to slowly decide its next step.

Just remember not to get caught up with some of the misconceptions discussed. There certainly are ways to make your computer faster, but things like registry cleaning and personal data deletion aren’t usually the way to go.

What are some system slowdown myths you’ve come to realise aren’t true and how do you speed up your system?

Image Credits: magician Via Shutterstock, Mr Robot has some RAM by isherwoodchris, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Computer Memory.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Emily
    January 23, 2018 at 7:19 am

    I recommend Dataownerclub Speed Up which can increase your computer speed by 20% - 30%

  2. Mihael
    August 8, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Reinstalling Windows IS ultimate speed up process. Not only speed up, but it will free tens of gigabytes of junk it acumulates in WIN directory that can not be cleaned in any other way - winsxs for instance that will grow outrageously after time.

    June 5, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Another reason is that over time, hardware components start to fail. And it's not always complete failures. Sometimes a component fails just enough to cause problems but doesn't completely die.Even ones with no moving parts wear down from the friction caused by moving electrons across conductive metal circuits, causing heat. That causes mathematical errors,which causes the chips to keep checking the math over and over again,thus causing more compute cycles(thus causing me to make run-on sentences).Keeping your computer as cool as possible for the span of its life will help keep it running smoothly.

  4. Thulf
    June 3, 2016 at 4:25 am

    No1 mentioned "cleaning" as in actually cleaning out the dust from the PC itself...

  5. alsen
    April 6, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Use a GiliSoft RAM disk to boost performance and speed up access to data. Unlike your system hard drive, a RAM disk contains no moving parts to generate noise and heat. Because your computer's memory is so much faster than the hard disk, a RAM disk greatly improves application performance.

  6. Tom
    December 18, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    I have worked in the computer repair and been a system administrator for 18 years.. These Myths are a very real problem for many users. The system registry is a database, the more you add to the database, the more memory it uses, and the more time it takes to search.. bad entries can slow the computer down, especially if the registry has an entry for a missing file.

    Also the drive becomes fragmented with the more files you add to it.. so running defrag tools are very useful, and tools that remove temporary files will help in the defrag process.

    Also, malware is a very real threat to many computers, they act very much like a virus, I have seen computers that can't even boot to a desktop without going into safe mode and removing multitudes of malware application... so be careful of viruses/malware they do slow down the computers very much.

    More memory can help a computer greatly, but remember the 4gb limit mentioned above for 32bit systems, and remember, for all the physical memory you add (RAM) the paging file will grow (Virtual memory) This use to be a big problem on older systems before fast harddrives like SATA drive came along, it could be a problem having too much memory on some computers with limited drive speed or drive space. (However Rare)

    So most of this is very useful info, and a good post, but don't forget about the exceptions, where the myths are very real, and should be dealt with properly. Thank-you and God Bless!

  7. Anonymous
    September 17, 2015 at 2:23 am

    I honestly felt that the 'misconceptions' mentioned within this article were not misconceptions. First and foremost, registry cleans do work. I saw major improvements after download Total System Care on my computer. Whether the registry files are kilobytes, over the years they do add up and make a mess of your computer. A new operating system also does wonders for your computer. I recently bought a new computer with Windows 8.1 and so I decided to give Windows 10 a try, it boosted my computer's speed a lot... so yeah, a new OS can do wonders! There are just so many things I don't agree with in this article. Sad thing is, persons who aren't experience might choose to follow the advice. My advice is to use this infographic [ ]as a guide when making attempts to boost your computer.

  8. Anonymous
    July 24, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks for such a knowledgeable post.

  9. KennyDee
    November 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Use Disk Clean Up, Defrag your HDD on a regular basis. You don't need to add more apps to your system. these come with the windows os.

  10. bolgwrad
    November 12, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    May not be relevant to Win 8/7 users but I used to see every non-savvy XP user running Windows Messenger and Norton AV side-by-side, so that Norton checked everything Messenger did, pretty much in real time. That was slowdown 101.

  11. Lee Hamilton
    November 6, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    A too small page file can cause "thrashing" where tasks are constantly being swapped out and in and it seems that nothing can be done. The default page file settings for windows tend to expand the page file as needed which also leads to disk fragmentation and page file fragmentation.

    I tend to keep programs and web pages open instead of exiting and reentering.

    A few tweaks to the page file settings can improve the situation.
    - First disable the swap file (temporary) and reboot
    - defrag your disk if it is a standard hard drive to maximize the contiguous area for your swap file. (Solid State Drives (SSD) would not benefit from defragging due to the wear leveling block reallocation.)
    - change the System Performance Properties (SystemPropertiesPerformance.exe) of your paging file to 4095 MB for 32 bit windows, or possibly larger for 64 bit systems: turn off “automatically manage…” and “system managed size” and specify the same initial and maximum size for the paging file on your system drive (usually C:). Apply and reboot.
    - I recommend using Sysinternals pagedfrg (Page file Defrag) and another reboot.

  12. WillD
    November 1, 2014 at 3:58 am

    Why no mention of disabling unnecessary services? By default, Windows starts a lot of services that most people don't need.

  13. Shore Patrol
    October 31, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Everything being said here is relevant to certain users within their configured system. I have win/7 x 64 with 2 TB storage and back up to external USB then make a disc. I have Norton Suite thru Comcast running at 105 mbps and a raid 5, I boot up in 30 sec and my computer is a flash. Watch what you install and use all the tools at hand that YOU deem necessary. Having a computer that works well is just like owing a car, take care of it and it will serve you well, wait for it to SNAFU and you get what you deserve. Just installed a water cooled video card, that is faster than my processor, and a 1300 watt power supply. If this thing had wings it could fly!
    I do not know if using things like password mgr, ABP , no script, Ghostery, VPN and a secure email, Hushmail, delete cookies when browser closes etc. helps but I have NEVER had an issue with slowing down. Use Make Use Of and Gizmo's, support EFF and I hope you can be as happy as I am.

  14. Paul Delaup
    October 29, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    George Edward Purdy: Could you please tell me how you market your business of speeding up computers? An in-home office has limits, traveling to individual’s places to do the work, which can take a few hours, can be an inconvenience, having workshops can be difficult without being able to set pricing without knowing the number to show, and working at businesses for groups to bring their computers will almost always draw objection from any IT department. Working through TeamViewer is practical, but seldom has a use. Any suggestions….from anyone?! Any advice would be greatly appreciated

  15. B.Stanisforth
    October 28, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Shocking misconceptions throughout the article. Too many for me to be bothered to point them out, however fresh users to Windows would be best advised to ignore this article and seek Professional advice from a good, solid independent I.T. retailer.

  16. Kent
    October 24, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    All of this and no one mentioned that the registry reference is just wrong. The registry does NOT contain files...of any size. It contains entries that set operational configurations for most everything...from the desktop background settings to the way things work. The reason that a registry cleaner CAN help with the speed and performance of a system is really simple...when you uninstall an application it's not often a clean uninstall and part of all of the registry entries remain. This can include references to file locations that are no longer valid or even application settings for applications that are no longer installed. Every time the registry is read (loaded) and the invalid references become a part of the operating environment, it's like you speaking and getting to a spot where you have to stop and think because the word you want doesn't come to mind. Granted, it may not be a huge performance improvement, but then again it may depend on just how much irrelevant junk is there. I have found and will continually clean my system registry along with cleaning out cache and other crap files on a somewhat regular basis. My personal favorite is Glary Utilities...but the ones mentioned here are all excellent.

    I think IMHO, that a system that is 2 or 3 years old also suffers from the constant maladies of Microsoft Updates. MS seems to think it's just fine to continually update your system (and fix problems of course)...but the impact is that the updated file is ALWAYS larger than the one it's replacing (well, most of the time anyway). So all the parts of the "guts" of the operating system that were nice and tidy and efficient when the OS was first released end up much larger, no where near as neat and tidy, and though they fix holes and problems, they are often not nearly as efficient just by the nature of adding the additional complexity to "fix" the bugs. Just my opinion you understand...but you know LINUX never seems to have this problem because they "recompile" the kernel and make it sweet again :)

  17. A41202813GMAIL
    October 24, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    "...Software Is Getting Slower More Rapidly Than Hardware Becomes Faster...".

    Since Internet Sites Are Being Built For Tomorrows Hardware, Let Alone Yesterdays, The Only Way To Always Have A Nearly Quick Machine Is To Buy Individual Custom Specs With Lots Of PCIEXPRESS16 Slots, Every Few Months Or So - No Matter What OS We Are Talking About.


  18. Doc
    October 24, 2014 at 2:20 am

    "Misconception 1: Malware is the reason for a slow computer" Only partially a misconception - some malware is used to turn your computer into part of a botnet, which will do things like use your computer to send spam, use your computer for a DDOS attack, or even to mine bitcoins, all of which run processes in the background and turn your computer into a slave.

    "32-bit versions of Windows are only capable of using up to 4GB of RAM. You can have as much as you want inside your system, but it’ll never use anything over the limit."
    Partly true. Since a large section of the 4GB memory range is used for a framebuffer (a mirror of the graphic card's memory), you'll never get to use more than 3.75GB at most, and often less, especially if your graphics card is built into the motherboard (the framebuffer in this case is the actual memory taken from the 4GB).
    It's possible for 32-bit Windows to actually have more than 4GB with Physical Address Extension (PAE), but Microsoft never enabled it in any non-server version of Windows.

  19. Dave Vallo
    October 23, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    When you examine the startup menu, how do you identify the programs by their cryptic names. Most of the time I cannot determine if a program is important and needs to be on the startup menu, or if it is something that got added in without my knowledge.

    Specfically, how do I identify each program on the startup menu and determine its need to be there?

  20. Ian Scot
    October 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    If you are going to suggest and post a screenshot of modifying msconfig, you might want to add verbiage that explains that is what you are doing in that section of the article and tell people how if you're going to use that as an example.

  21. Kai M.
    October 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Sorry, I have to agree with Darryl Kirby, George Edward Purdy, and many of the other comments on this one. As a computer tech in some capacity for the past 13 years, I've seen all of the things mentioned in this article slow down computers, and things like malware and lack of sufficient RAM are usually at the top of the list of reasons my clients computers are running slow when they bring them to me.

    Also, do those of us in the IT industry that deal with nasty infections on a daily basis a favor and please don't recommend Microsoft Security Essentials in your articles. Sure it's free and doesn't use many system resources, however, year after year in antivirus tests it scores in the bottom percentile for malware detection and removal.

    • Frank
      November 4, 2014 at 2:49 am

      Kai M.: Could you please tell me how you market your business of improving clients' computers? An in-home office has limits, traveling to individual’s places to do the work, which can take a few hours, can be an inconvenience, having workshops can be difficult without being able to set pricing without knowing the number to show, and working at businesses for groups to bring their computers will almost always draw objection from any IT department. Working through TeamViewer is practical, but seldom has a use. Any suggestions….from anyone?! Any advice would be greatly appreciated

  22. John Williams
    October 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I think we should all just chill out a little. Learn to relish those moments when Windows is "thinking".
    Personally, I treasure the time when my PC is rendering or scanning for nasties.
    Go and have lunch with a friend or walk the dog ....

    In reality, the only way to speed up Windows and get maximum productivity is to have 2 computers side by side. Now you can assauge your computer speed addiction by using PC number 2 while PC number one has gone out for a virtual "smoke".

    If you still find yourself drumming your fingers on the desk waiting for both computers it really is time to go for a walk. You could walk to the store and buy a faster PC ....

  23. lott
    October 23, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Man I have read lots of things over the years.
    But you have got to be ignorant or mistaken on your OS, if this was Linux I would say yes.
    Windows dose not manage well its resources.
    1 Windows loads as much as it can at start up.
    2 Temp files are one of the biggest problems that windows has.
    3 There is no memory dump on windows on less it is out of memory or swap space.
    4 The anti-virus & anti-malware and firewall that windows use are a joke. If you use them you are looking for problems.
    5 Cleaning temps, history & registry is a must, granted not every day.
    Most people do not know how much memory they have much less if there OS is 32 Bit or 64 Bit.
    Most of them just used there PC's and are happy that it works.
    For the bast majority they would not even care what OS is running, just that they have to learn how to use it ones.
    Ones that is done most people got stuck with windows or OSX, and now android.
    Windows users the first thing they should do is get rid of the crap that PC's come with 50 useless demos.
    To start go to ninite being by picking revo, terracopy, malwarebites, spy bot, avira or avast basic even avg, and what ever internet explorer they would use.
    As well IM like trillian or pidgin a all in one and everything for a windows search.
    This are just the basics for a start, minus well get all that they need at this time.
    Them get started uninstalling with revo all all garbage that is not needed or that they don't used.
    Install a firewall that works like private firewall fresh disk, and puran utilities.
    Ones all the trash is removed clean of temps them registry, remove empty folders, disable windows search, and all the things that are not needed at start up.
    Ones all this is done reboot and there you see the difference.
    Next move your files to another partition or create one for them an encrypt for security.
    Install all other of your software that may use.
    Update all software including drivers, run malwarebites and your anti virus.
    run the puran cleaner again reboot.
    Run spy bot run it and immunize system, them you can backup all your system.
    If you like you can run an off-line windows update for the next time.
    For windows partition 256 GB minimum use a USB drive for swap 8GB minimum.
    If your use video, or audio editing or play games you need at list 8GB in 64 bit OS.
    If your do any of the above you need a graphics card, not your Intel graphics.
    If you have 32 bit windows just get 4 GB of Ram since that is most you can have.
    Maintaining windows desk top clean is a must, no file on the desk top just shortcuts.
    File on the desk top mean longer boot ups and start time, this also applies to OSX.
    All of the tips apply for both Windows 32 & 64 bit.

  24. Pip
    October 23, 2014 at 11:33 am

    I agree with Vinod, could you please advise what are the causes of a reductions in bootup speed and performance. My bootup can take up 5 or 6 minutes but this is with XP using 1 x 500Gb HDD and 4Gb RAM. I also use Win 7 but I'm a XP fan.

  25. Muhammad Adil
    October 23, 2014 at 8:16 am

    When you create a system image, the primary drive(C drive) is copied and not just "everything". Also when you reinstall Windows the drives other than the primary remains unchanged.

  26. Sukhen
    October 23, 2014 at 2:16 am

    I use a Win 8.1 x64 machine 2 GB RAM+1GBPS Athlon x64 Dual Core. A few days ago Wow3264 got messed up. As a result, 64 bit applications were running at an amazing speed although 32 bit applications were not working at all. I had to restore anyway and I am back to the same earlier sluggish speed.

    Wonder if there is an way to get that speed back.
    (I regularly use MalwareBytes Pro, CCleaner Biz version, Regcleaner and Glary Utilities Pro, Defrag once in 2 weeks. Only MalwareBytes All Time protection, rest as and when basis, I also clean Prefetch and Temp)

  27. CityguyUSA
    October 23, 2014 at 1:50 am

    People often confuse disk space with speed. They really don't understand the underlying concept of how a computer works.

    Most of what was suggested in the article is acceptable enough. The only part I really disagree with is the backups. Yes you should absolutely back up but to suggest that going back to last month as a speed up solution is just as messed up as stating that going back to the initial state is a bad choice.

    Most casual users rarely accrue any real data and it's usually not much of an ordeal to recover/restore the system and then either from a current backup or offloading the data prior to the restore is simple enough.

    My preference is to split the hard drive into 3 logical drives. C, D and E. On C of course you have your system, on D you install any programs that you would like to add to your system and E finally is the drive to store your data. This does a couple things. First you can backup your 3 drives separately making each on a different day and preventing your computer from having to backup static data more than necessary. It also makes recovering quicker as you only need to recover what you need. Drive C doesn't usually change except for following a windows update or installing some new software which may create registry data so back it up after you have these types of changes. D should rarely change except when you install some new program. Again backup as necessary. Finally if you're successful at saving all of your data on the E drive (that may mean creating links for your desktop and some programs that like to store things under your c:userusernameappdata{localroaming}[program] and can also be diverted by creating links to your E drive) you would pretty much want to back it up on a daily basis using a differential type backup to make it run as quick as possible.

    I have also built systems for other people where there data is so small that I have them buy 2 thumb drives and have them copy their data onto the thumb drive on a weekly or daily basis and then exchanging the thumb drive every month and storing the other in a fire safe box.

    Finally, someone recommended buying memory. You can use your task manager to evaluate how much of your memory you're really using. If you're constantly hitting the peak and your swapping a lot of data from memory to disk and vice-versa then this definitely will be a huge benefit to you. Other than that don't waste your money.

  28. Grcoeeg
    October 23, 2014 at 1:50 am

    I was a good article, I learned things from the writer and from those of you who posted replies. Thanks to all.

  29. Vinod
    October 23, 2014 at 1:30 am

    You have just listed myths which do not slow the machine. What are the items which slow the machine and what is the solution? You have not provided this.

  30. Jerry Boor
    October 23, 2014 at 1:18 am

    I used to think that just about all slow-downs in older computers were due to software issues. However, now having experienced a myriad of problems with older computers, I now believe that it is almost as likely that older computers will eventually just slowly begin to falter as the electronic circuitry simply begins to wear out over time. After all, that part is physical...

    • Shane Williams
      October 23, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Or maybe China designed circuitry to fail after some years by inserting microscopic bacteria that eats away at it slowly. After all a business that sells reusable items can't really win, nobody would need a new one. Maybe the small bacteria eating your circuitry starts to make driver issues due to the hardware not quite being perfect or maybe it become slow because your CPU pins are being thinned. Lol.

  31. Jono
    October 23, 2014 at 12:30 am

    How about some help for Mac OS slowdown?

    • Eric
      October 23, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Wait! Mac's have problem's?!

  32. James Benzer
    October 22, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Thanks I plan to try several of your suggestions. I have been looking for a reason that my boot slows down. I have a 256 GB ssd as my c drive. If I use just it my pc boots really fast. But when I add my other hdds, (2 60 GB, 1 250 GB, and 1 3 TB it slows to the speed I was getting with just the HDDs. Any Ideas?

    • Shane Williams
      October 23, 2014 at 10:33 am

      Enable quick boot in your bios, your computer is checking for bootable drives (operating systems on all your drives) when first turned on before defaulting to the primary drive which has an operating system. Even if another drive has a system on it the computer will default to the drive plugged into the first Sata ports on your motherboard or the partition marked as primary. Quick boot disables all minor operations when booting such as searching other peripheral devices. To enter BIOS turn on PC and wait for a message that would say something similar to "Press F2 to access boot option/BIOS". This would be different for every PC so could be F10, F4,F6 etc or something else. Your PC should tell you. Quick boot/fast boot should be in one of the menus on screen use your keyboard arrows and enter to navigate. Hope this helps!

  33. D Harries
    October 22, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Does having ReadyBoost enabled on a USB stick help at all?

    • Doc
      October 24, 2014 at 2:21 am

      Yes, since any USB drive of any decent size is many times faster than a swap file on a mechanical hard drive. No use at all if you have an SSD, though.

    • Joe
      October 24, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      ReadyBoost is most beneficial when you have small amounts of RAM and a decent USB stick. But if you can, it's better to just buy actual RAM.

  34. Glenn
    October 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    I disgree on the cleaning registry. I run a registry clean every few weeks
    I have seen ccleaner more than double the speed of a computer.

    • Jackson Pollack
      October 23, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      Double? Really? Just from cleaning the registry?

      Sure - why not...I also believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause (sic)

    • Joe
      November 1, 2014 at 12:04 am

      I'm not sure if clearing the registry can honestly double the speed of your system! Are you sure ccleaner isn't performing other activities too that might be helping?

  35. Clarky
    October 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Have you tried turning it off and on again?

  36. Stuart Mountjoy
    October 22, 2014 at 9:55 pm - it is Revolutions Per Minute, and it IS talking about rotations per minute.

  37. Stuart Mountjoy
    October 22, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Re Misconception 3 - IF the latest drive you are upgrading to IS NOT moving parts, and IS faster, then "Misconception 3" is proved wrong.

    Re Misconception 4 - IF the computer is looking for a file that does not exist, and looking for it because a registry entry says so, and the computer takes time looking for file, before giving up, THEN it will be faster with that registry entry removed.

  38. Paul D Pruitt
    October 22, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    How about cleaning up your desktop of everything but folders. I read somewhere that Windows keeps files on the desktop in RAM in case you need them. If you just downloaded a big program to your desktop and it stays there it will clog up you RAM.

    Also if you install a lot of programs that add choices to your Context memory, it takes Windows longer to rebuild the menus each time you right click. Get rid of those programs or using a context menu editor I would think would speed up your Windows experience.

  39. sandeep
    October 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks all for the posts!! think it helps a lotz!!!

  40. michel
    October 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I wonder what you think the difference is? We're talking hardware, not politics.

  41. Grnfinger
    October 22, 2014 at 11:31 am

    This article is nothing more than click bait for there windows speed up guide.
    George Edward Purdy's post contains more useful information than this article.

  42. Palash
    October 22, 2014 at 10:25 am

    32 bit version of Windows can support only upto 3 GB of RAM. You are actually wasting atleast about 800MB of RAM when you use 32 bit windows with 4GB RAM.

    • Ben
      October 24, 2014 at 1:47 am

      Quite the contrary, read this. For example, Windows ME could only handle one and a half gigabytes of RAM, whereas Windows Server 2003 R2/SP1 Enterprise/Datacenter supported up to 64GB ram, both are 32 bit versions of Windows.

    • Doc
      October 24, 2014 at 2:23 am

      Actually, only the graphics framebuffer, BIOS (copied to RAM for speed), and some other I/O ports take a chunk out of the 4GB address space. It's possible for Windows to actually use up to 3.75GB of the 4GB, but it varies from computer to computer.
      If your graphics card uses shared memory (like almost any onboard graphics), it will be less because part of it will be used by the graphics card.

  43. Sarthak Ganguly
    October 22, 2014 at 6:47 am

    'revolutions per minute (RPM). ' Sorry mate, it's rotations per minute. :)
    Please correct that in the article.

    • Charles
      October 22, 2014 at 8:06 am

      Revolutions per minute (abbreviated rpm, RPM) is a measure of the frequency of a rotation. It annotates the number of turns completed in one minute around a fixed axis. It is used as a measure of rotational speed of a mechanical component.

  44. Alexis C
    October 22, 2014 at 2:29 am

    Maybe not the best thing to point out but Antivirus slows down the Pc A LOT!
    I have tested that a couple of days ago. I was using my new laptop without antivirus and it was amazing. Then I had to install the antivirus and I felt the slow-down. For example, now Autocad 2014 hangs very often, HD videos won't play as smooth as they should be, some programs (like Word 2007) froze for some seconds... So, I f you want your computer to work fast, you should disable your antivirus
    I believe that you should be safe as long as you know what you download from the internet and how secure are the pages you visit .

    • Soothsayer
      October 23, 2014 at 4:36 am

      You're a damn fool. The recent malware distribution through Google ads should be evidence enough for anyone that "knowing what you download" doesn't provide any real safety. Malware can come from known and allegedly "safe" sites.

      But go ahead, continue to surf the net without antivirus protection. We won't have to listen to your nonsense for too much longer, if you do.

    • Doc
      October 24, 2014 at 2:26 am

      Anyone who disables their antivirus (or doesn't use one) is a damn fool. I've seen a Windows 2000 Server get hacked in a matter of hours without antivirus (and there was no budget where I worked for server-grade antivirus). MIRC bots, spambots, and fake user accounts cropped up on a machine that NEVER was used to surf the only shared files and printers.
      Thank you so much for being a spambot and contributing to DDOS attacks by leaving your PC unguarded. Any day now your ISP will cut you off for helping to spread malware.

  45. KT
    October 22, 2014 at 2:28 am

    Great advice. Here's some more:

    The first thing I tell people to do with a new Windows pc is uninstall all the prepackaged bloatware or have a pro do it for you.

    The second thing is to keep clicking 'deny' when installing new software you actually want until the final 'install' tab pops up. You'll end up with 10 toolbars on your browser and lord knows what else in your files if you don't.

    Finally, not to be "that guy", but my 2006 pc with an AMD fx-60 2.6 gig dual core and 4 gigs of old ddr 400 RAM and a mid range GPU does everything but gaming faster than my modern quad core Windows 7 gaming rig. So depending on need, other operating systems are an option too, especially for older systems.

  46. qwertinsky
    October 22, 2014 at 12:05 am

    LOL this article debunks your own recomended "Speed up guide".

    2. Why does Windows slow down?
    2.2 Running Software and RAM (Misconception 3:)
    2.3 Space on System Drive (Misconception 2:)
    2.4 Malware (Misconception 1: )
    2.5 Windows Registry (Misconception 4:)

    • Stuart Mountjoy
      October 22, 2014 at 9:56 pm

      That's what I thought, why recommend a guide that contradicts what you are recommending people do?

  47. MauriveAvis
    October 21, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    @AdamB: Download an app called CleanMaster. It's the CCleaner (and more) for Android.

  48. stevedude
    October 21, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Be careful about stating Windows 8 has its own security applications for the casual PC user who reads this article. Even Microsoft admitted that Windows Security Essentials / Bitdefender is only provided to make sure Joe Average user has at least some protection. 3rd party AV programs are a necessity. There are those that bog down your system and others that have a small footprint and resource requirement. I use BitDefender that provides good protection, small footprint, and small resource use. Thank you for pointing out the difference in RAM use on a 32-bit system. Out of all of the myths, adding over 4 GB of RAM on a 32-bit system is the one that is most believed by users in my experience.

    • Doc
      October 24, 2014 at 2:28 am

      Couldn't agree more. I've seen so many articles about how MSE repeated failed antivirus tests. It's the last line of defense for people like the idiot commenter here who said antivirus doesn't do anything but slow the computer down, and he turns it off because he "web surfs safely."

  49. George Edward Purdy
    October 21, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    If this article is about speed, not space, something like CCleaner isn't going to speed you up either.

    This is what I do for a living. I make slow Windows machines fast again. Despite the assertion of this article, malware is the number one reason systems slow down. I routinely see systems that are crippled due to heavy infections of spyware and viruses. Rootkits are the worst offenders, of course, but even just a few unauthorized running apps in the background can slow a Windows machine to a crawl. Anyone that tells you different is selling something.

    Typically I run at least 3 scans, and 2 immunization programs to eliminate spyware problems, and if I believe there is a virus or rootkit I have specialized tools just for those purposes.

    Some other things I do to speed up a system. Sometimes this is "real" speed and sometimes it's perception of speed.

    1. Disable visual effects life window fade and zoom. A few seconds of effect are essentially wasted time.

    2. Disable Windows Search. Although it's designed to speed up searches by pre-indexing files, do you really search often enough to waste that many clock cycles in the background on indexing? It's a stupid feature. Disable it in Services.

    3. If you have more than 4 GB of RAM, disable the swap file. You can argue all day long about whether or not this really speeds things up, but I've been using this trick for years without fail on many systems, and it feels snappier on many system. If you notice a problem you can always re-enable it.

    4. Alternative trick: Repartition the hard drive and put the swap file on a dedicated swap partition. I especially like to do this as a 4 GB FAT-16 partition because it's a faster file system. This also gets the swap file out of the way of other file write operations, preventing file corruption and fragmentation problems.

    5. If you're going to defrag the hard drive, use Auslogics and move the system files to the front of the disk.

    6. If you can afford to upgrade, switch your main volume to an SSD. They've come down in cost, and this is one upgrade that will give you a real speed increase.

    7. If you have 4 GB or less RAM, get some more RAM. Windows isn't efficient with RAM, so you need as much as possible, and it's so cheap now compared to the old days.

    8. Update drivers, especially graphics drivers. Look for system devices that don't have their own drivers. The default VGA driver is slow as crap. Make sure you have a real graphics driver installed.

    9. Disable or uninstall anything that runs on startup that isn't essential. There are so many of these things. Even anti-spyware programs use these. It's annoying, and the more of these things you're running, the slower your system is. Winamp and Spotify and Nero and so many other programs have little components designed to run in the background or in the tray area. Disable all that crap. You don't need it. It's drag factor on your system. Use either Autoruns or the Anvir Task Manager to check and see what's running.

    10. Use Fasterfox Lite for Firefox, and TCP Optimizer for your Internet connection.

    These tips will give you a ton more result than this article.

    • Spooky Ghost
      October 22, 2014 at 11:11 pm

      I'm also more inclined to agree with George here, over the article.

      Malware is the number one cause of a slow-running computer for most neophytes. The problem is that people search for programs like 'youtube downloaders' and most of them are infected with malware that installs MORE malware. And yes, I classify most of the software like 'registry cleaners', 'shopping assistants', 'search bars', etc as malware because of the way that they piggyback onto minimally functional software pretending to be the software that the user wants. Even if it doesn't steal user data, many are not coded to be efficient with system resources, and some use unnecessary disk I/O or bandwidth, or present a barrier (like a popup advertisement, system notification, nagware screen, etc) that gets in the way of the user and his content -- and some of these are non-straightforward to remove as well. They don't need to actually steal data to be an impediment to a fully functioning system.

      And upgrading RAM is nearly a guaranteed increase in speed if the system is short-handed on RAM. A 64-bit OS will easily see a large improvement from 2GB->4GB of RAM, a moderate improvement at 8GB (which is more noticable with advanced users who tend to multitask) and a negligible improvement at 16GB unless the user runs heavy programs like AAA games, or RAM-hungry content creation software like Photoshop.

      Come to think of it; I think the stuff that George wrote here is better than this entire article.

    • Carla Pollard
      October 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm

      George - novice here - I found your comments to be invaluable. Unfortunately, I don't know how to manually do most of what you recommend. Any guidance for people like me?

    • Ben
      October 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      How would I do what you mentioned, in points 3 & 4 of your comment?

    • Ben
      October 24, 2014 at 1:36 am

      I agree right on with Carla.

    • Paul
      October 27, 2014 at 4:04 am

      George Edward Purdy; Could you please tell me how you "market" your business of speeding up computers? An in-home office has limits, traveling to individual's places to do the work, which can take a few hours, can be an inconvenience, having "workshops" can be difficult without being able to set pricing without knowing the number to show, and working at businesses for groups to bring their computers will almost always draw objection from any IT department. Working through TeamViewer is practical, but seldom has a use. Any suggestions....from anyone?!

    • Bruce Epper
      November 13, 2015 at 10:17 pm


      Regarding point 3, it all depends on what is being done with the system. I have seen people follow this type of "tip" blindly on systems with 8 GB of RAM and then complain that their video editor is now running like a dog. If no memory-intensive processing is done on the system, disabling the swap file is a viable option, but something like this needs to be thought through first for any potential ramifications.

      And for point 4 ("This also gets the swap file out of the way of other file write operations, preventing file corruption and fragmentation problems.") Repartitioning a drive for use in this manner *does not* do anything to prevent file corruption, nor does it get the swap file "out of the way of other file write operations". These I/O operations are not just happening to the partition, but the drive. So, your OS and swap file being in different partitions *on the same physical drive* just has the read-write heads moving greater distances in most cases, tending to slow the system more than just keeping it on the same partition.

  50. AdamB
    October 21, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Thanks for this! I'm pretty familiar with Windows, so I already new most of this.
    What I really need help with is Android -- my two-year-old tablet running ICS has been crawling and crashing lately. Any chance you would write a similar guide to Android?

    • Arben
      October 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      The problem is android in itself, and the fact that it's made in java. The performance of an OS made in C compared to that of an OS made in Java is huge, because Java has too many dependencies, it's too fragmented, and that's why we see an iPhone with a much worse CPU and RAM memory performing as well as if not better than the top android smartphones today.

      I love my android, but that's how it is, if it was made in C, it would never lag like it does, and we'd all be living happily ever after with it, but we won't.
      Only thing I can suggest you is to use Clean Master to clean things like you do with cleaner, and boost your RAM from time to time, it really does make a difference, but you have to use it frequently as the way android works is apps relaunch themselves even if you kill their processes.

    • Larry McC
      October 23, 2014 at 1:36 am

      For Android try Clean Master.

    • Angie Brazier
      October 23, 2014 at 2:54 am

      if you would feel comfortable doing so, I would try rooting and flashing a ROM with appropriate kernel..

    • Gee Deezy
      October 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Arben: Only the UI of Android is written in Java, the core OS is in C and C++.

    • Kevin M.
      October 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      Not sure where you got your info Arben, Android is Linux at the core. You know, the same software that runs the best things in the world. Perhaps you are confusing the fact that applications that extend the functionality of Android are developed primarily in the Java programming language? There are some application frameworks which include Java-compatible libraries but at its core it is still Linux kernel. While Google is your friend so is the wikipedia on Android. Perhaps some time reading would prevent you from confessing your ignorance out loud?

    • Ben
      October 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      I'm fairly proficient with Android, what are you having problems with, specifically?

    • AdamB
      October 23, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      @Ben, kind of everything. Apps take forever (sometimes several minutes) to load, often freeze or crash, sometimes when I didn't even know they were running. (Examples: I will launch PlayerFM, it will take 3-4 minutes to open, and crash when I try to play a podcast. Or, I might randomly get a message the Amazon Kindle app has crashed, when I haven't opened it since restarting the tablet. etc, etc.)
      Everything works eventually, if I'm patient enough, and I'm willing to restart the app if necessary. I've got 5.5/32 GB free space.

      I looked at Clean Master on the recommendations above, but I don't think I need a space manager or general task killer. I just installed WatchDog, so I'll see if that helps at all, but I'm open to suggestions.

    • Doc
      October 24, 2014 at 2:35 am

      @Arben: Only the Android runtime for apps is a Java interpreter (Dalvik or ART), the core OS (including device drivers) is compiled native code running on a Linux kernel. Many games and utilities are actually written in C/C++, which is why my first tablet (a Velocity Micro Cruz T301, which had a MIPS processor instead of ARM) was incompatible with many games that required native code.

    • Caio
      November 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

      First: android memory management sucks as of now (4.4.4) hope lollipop (5.0) will shed some light.
      Second: yes architecture AND goddamn vanilla kernel and it's dalvik suck too. on a vanilla kernel, just for using a x86 processor, you'll see the diference, those ARM fuckers are garbage. Today's snapdragons have a BRUTAL overkill (octa-cores and having as much as 4gb of RAM) to run smoothly
      Third: no. i'm not saying it's a bad OS, just saying that better roms+kernels and the x86 architecture makes it as good as a linus should be. Obviously you can't be all too happy about running on java vm coded apps, but it's changing, and, getting more and more optimised.
      ps.: don't get me wrong. i LOVE my android devices, it's just the truth. ARM sucks.

  51. laurelnev
    October 21, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Good article! The one tip you overlooked is using something like CCleaner to clear out your temp files. I have seen folks regain literally gigabytes of space just by cleaning up temp files.

    • Alan
      October 22, 2014 at 10:24 am

      CCleaner is good for cleaning temp files, but that has nothing to do with what the article is about - Speeding up your system!

    • Jerry K
      October 22, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      I have to disagree with that Alan; temp files are indexed in Windows. The larger the index, the more your system must look through when it needs to access those temp files. While it's not always the best practice to clean them out, doing so can definitely give a performance boost when running applications.

    • L MHtfd
      October 22, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      CCleaner is related to what the article is about if cleaning out the temp files provides enough extra space for dynamic storage during program operation. The article states that lack thereof can cause system slowdown. I've used CCleaner and other file cleaner programs to maintain some last gigs of hard drive space (and thwart slowdown) when i'm not able to immediately buy more drive space.

  52. Darryl Kirby
    October 21, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Well .. this is all a bit vague! While I agree that the start-up configuration is one key area, I see on a daily basis as a call-out engineer 'slow-downs' caused by all of the above. Of course this depends on your description of a 'slow-down' I think of it as 'any symptom leading to a loss of expected productivity'. Malware can cause pop-ups, search engine hijacks, and a raft of other 'slow-downs' while browsing, errors in Explorer and other embedded components serve to hinder .. and of course complete system lock-outs! What are these if not 'slow-downs'.
    Component upgrades certainly do make a great difference, many PCs sold today, and over the years; have nowhere near the fastest, or most core/cache equipped CPU, supported by their respective mainboard model. If a users' software use has diversified and increased over the years, leading to much greater CPU/RAM use, upgraded components will offer a boost in speed and productivity. And no mention of fragmentation!?

    • Gee Deezy
      October 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Thank you for being a voice of reason. While this article had some truth to it, it is vague and shallow.