Over time, your PC may get clogged up with files, unused software and other digital debris that can result in a sluggish performance. Yet there’s no need to perform a complete system reinstall or even splash out on a new computer. You can speed up your computer for free. Here are some simple tweaks that can help get your PC back in the fast lane.
Get rid of unwanted programs
Free up storage space and memory by uninstalling programs that you don’t use. These may include trial versions of software that came with the computer when you bought it, out-of-date anti-virus programs, old software or games that you no longer play.
Click Start > Control Panel > Uninstall a program. From the list of programs that appears, click the program you want to uninstall, then click Uninstall.
Remove temporary files
Window’s Disk Clean-up utility can help boost your computer’s performance by removing temporary files and unnecessary system files:
Click Start. In the search box, type ‘disk clean-up’ and, from the list of results that appears, click Disk Clean-up.
In the list of Drives, click the hard disk drive that you want to clean. For most people this will be the C: drive. Click OK.
In the Disk Clean-up box, select the type of files that you want to delete and then click OK and then click Delete files.
Regularly restart your computer
Restarting your PC clears out its memory. It also closes all the programs that are running on the PC, including those running in the background, so it’s a good starting point if your computer seems to be running slow or behaving strangely.
To restart your Windows 7 computer, click the Start button and click the arrow in the bottom-right of the Start Menu. From the menu, choose Restart.
Tidy your desktop
Give your PC a speed boost by tidying up your desktop. Most people’s desktops are cluttered with files, program shortcuts and other icons, but as Windows has to refresh these icons every so often, this can cause a slight slowdown. There’s no need to delete them all - just create a single folder on your desktop called, for example, 'My Icons'. Then, drag and drop everything from your desktop into the new folder, from where they can be accessed any time you need them.
Add Ram or a solid state drive
If you have a bit of technical know-how and confidence with your PC, you can get a serious speed boost by making some physical changes. A relatively easy one is to add more Ram to your computer. This makes it faster to open and close programs.
See our guide on how to add more Ram to a computer
If you're willing to put the time in, upgrading your computer to a solid state drive (instead of a regular spinning hard drive) can have some serious speed results. SSDs help a computer to start lightning-quick and switch between programs in an instant. The upgrade process can be lengthy and technical, but we have a simple guide you can follow.
Learn more about how to install a solid state drive
Turn off Windows 7 visual effects
Windows’ graphical effects look great but they can drain resources and slow down your computer. Disabling them can give you a big speed boost.
In Windows 7, right-click on an empty area of your desktop and from the pop-up menu select Personalize. Scroll down and select Windows 7 Basic – this will turn off most of the snazzy effects. Select Windows Classic for even more of a speed boost.
Empty your Recycle Bin
Your recycle bin is an area of your hard drive where you store ‘deleted’ files. As files can be recovered from the bin they still occupy precious hard disk space. Make your computer work faster by emptying this bin regularly.
First check that there's nothing in the bin that you want to keep. Then double click the icon on your desktop and from the menu that appears click Empty Recycle Bin. A warning box will appear. Click Yes to permanently delete files.
Change indexing options
Windows indexes your hard disk for speedier searching, but background indexing can slow down your computer’s overall performance. If your PC is dragging its heels, consider disabling this feature.
Click Start > Computer. In Windows Explorer, right-click your system drive (usually C:) and then click Properties.
On the General tab, untick the box next to Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties and click OK. In the confirmation box, make sure the option to apply changes to subfolders and files is selected and click OK.
Keep programs in check
It may seem convenient to have many of your programs and windows open at the same time but this will bog down your PC performance. To enjoy a speed boost, it’s worth closing those programs and windows you aren’t really using.