We explain easy ways to speed up a slow Windows 10 PC, including disabling slow Windows 10 features you don’t need and cleaning up your slow computer to give it a massive speed boost.
A few tweaks can help Windows 10 come flying out the blocks the moment you switch your computer on.
Fix slow Windows 10 startups
Windows 10 computers can get bogged down right from the start if programs, apps and other items are set to launch automatically whenever you boot your PC.
1. Open the Task Manager
Right-click on a blank area of the taskbar and select Task Manager from the menu. If you see More details at the bottom of the window that opens, click this to expand the Task Manager view, then click the Start-up tab.
2. Disable unwanted startup items
The window will display all the items that are set to launch automatically when your PC starts. In the right-hand Start-up impact column, you’ll see how much of a detrimental effect each one has on your boot speed. Browse through and click on any you don’t need, then click the Disable button.
3. Choose wisely
The trick is knowing which programs to disable and which ones to leave enabled. If you’re not sure about an item, right-click it and select Search online. This will open a web page of search results about the item, which should help to provide you with the information that you need to decide whether or not to disable the startup item. Crucially, never disable your security software from launching automatically.
Turn off Windows 10 visual effects
By default, Windows 10 uses visual effects, including shadows that give program windows the appearance of depth, animations that make on-screen motion appear smooth, transparencies, thumbnail previews and more. The trouble is that these effects all use up system resources, which means they can slow your PC down.
1. Open System Properties
Right-click the Start button in the bottom-left corner and select System from the Start menu that appears. In the new window that opens, click Advanced system settings on the left-hand side.
2. Access the Visual Effects options
In the System Properties window, click the Advanced tab. In the Performance section, click Settings. In the Performance Options window, click the Visual Effects tab.
3. Choose which effects to disable
Choose Custom to untick individual effects you may not need, such as thumbnail previews. To disable all effects at once, choose Adjust for best performance at the top. Click OK.
Want some more help with Windows 10? Our friendly tech team can help you with one-to-one support on a range of tech issues. Find out more here.
Close background programs in Windows 10
A chief culprit for slow speeds can be too many programs running in the background. This can use up memory, processing power, laptop battery life and internet bandwidth.
Click Start > Settings > Privacy, then click the Background apps option at the bottom of the left-hand pane. Here, you’ll find a list of all the apps that are allowed to run in the background automatically – switch off any you don’t need.
Turn off Live tiles
Even if you leave some of the background apps enabled, you may wish to turn off their corresponding Live tile in the Start menu, as these constantly update in the background.
Click Start, then right-click a tile you want to disable and select More then Turn Live tile off.
Turn off app notifications
To stop apps from sending you notifications, click Start > Settings > System > Notifications & actions.
Scroll through the list of apps here and switch off any you don’t want. For example, you may wish to leave your email and calendar notifications switched on, but you could consider switching off News, for instance.
Turn off Cortana
Microsoft is keen that you use its new voice-controlled digital assistant, Cortana. But, in order for it to work, Cortana needs to run in the background on your computer all the time, listening out for your spoken commands and gathering information about your activities. These processes can slow down your computer. It's not possible to entirely turn off Cortana without taking some very technical steps, but you can limit its background activity.
If you’d rather disable this and free up the resources Cortana uses, click inside the Start menu search box, then click the Cortana icon, then click Settings (cog icon). Switching off all the options shown here will limit the impact Cortana makes on your system resources.
Uninstall unwanted programs
Right-click Start and select Programs and Features from the menu. The Uninstall or change a program control panel will open.
Scroll through the list of programs and click to highlight any that you no longer need, then click Uninstall or Uninstall/Change and follow any remaining prompts to complete the process.
Clear out junk from your hard drive
Click Start > File Explorer > This PC to see a list of your drives. Click the drive you want to clean (usually C:). Click Drive Tools then Clean-up.
In the new window, tick the boxes next to the items you want to clear out. Most can safely be ticked. Leave thumbnails unticked, or Windows will need to recreate these next time you open a folder of images.
Clean up Windows 10 system files
To remove temporary and junk files created by Windows, open Clean-up (as described above), then click the Clean up system files button. Tick the boxes for the items you want to clear out, then click OK.
If ‘Previous Windows installations’ is an available option listed, you can delete this to free up a lot of space. This contains an older version of your operating system that's kept when major system updates happen. If you delete it, you won't be able to revert to this previous version.
Turn off update file sharing
Click Start > Settings > Update & security > Windows Update. Click Choose how updates are delivered on the Advanced options screen.
An option called Updates from more than one place is set to On by default. This setting allows your PC to share any updates it has downloaded with other PCs on your network. This uses up bandwidth and slows down your broadband connection. If you’re on a capped broadband package, it could push you over your monthly data allowance and cost you money. Switch it Off instead.