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The Best Tips for Speeding Up Your Windows PC

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If your computer has started to slow down, there are many options for speeding it up. Below, we show you some of the best tips for speeding up your PC, some from previous HTG articles and some described here.

Turn off Startup Programs

When you install a program in Windows, it may add a small program that runs when Windows starts. After installing a lot of software, your boot up process could become slow. If there are programs you don’t use much, they probably don’t need to start every time Windows does. You can disable startup programs manually or use the free tool CCleaner.

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Clean Up Unnecessary Files on Your Computer

As you use your computer, files collect in all kinds of places. Windows and programs running in Windows create temporary files and log files. Files you have deleted may collect in the Recycle Bin, if you don’t empty it often. When you browse the internet, browsers create temporary files, sites put cookies on your computer, and the download history and form history grows. CCleaner can help you clean up your computer. You can set up CCleaner to automatically run on a schedule and you can also create a shortcut to run CCleaner quickly and silently.

Schedule a Task to Perform Disk Cleanup

Windows provides a built-in Disk Cleanup tool that removes old files and temporary files to help you reclaim hard disk space and possibly speed up your PC. It’s a good idea to run the Disk Cleanup tool on a regular basis, such as weekly or monthly, depending on your computer usage. You can use the Task Scheduler in Windows to set up a task to run the Disk Cleanup tool on a set schedule.

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Remove Malware, Spyware, and Adware

If you have malware, spyware, or adware on your computer, that can affect its performance. The articles below describe some tools that help you get rid of malware, spyware, and adware and also how to get rid of fake antivirus applications that are actually viruses in themselves.

Turn off Windows Features

By default, Windows enables a lot of features that you most likely don’t use and take up valuable resources on your computer. However, these features can be disabled. There are many ways to disable Windows features. We have previously written about the 50 best ways to disable built-in Windows features you don’t want or need.

Disable the Indexing Service in Windows

The Search Indexing service in Windows scans through the files and folders on your system and records information about them in an index file to speed up the search process. However, this also consumes resources on your system and can slow it down. If you don’t do a lot of searching through files and folders, you can turn off the indexing service to free up some resources and speed up your computer.

Open the Start menu and enter “services.msc” (without the quotes) in the search box. Press Enter or click on the services.msc link when it displays.

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In the right pane on the Services dialog box, scroll down until you find the Windows Search service. Right-click on it and select Properties from the popup menu.

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The Windows Search Properties dialog box displays. Select Disabled from the Startup type drop-down list. Click OK to accept the change and close the dialog box.

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You are returned to the Services dialog box. Select Exit from the File menu to close it. Reboot your computer to finalize the change.

Reduce the Delay of the Start Menu Display

By default, there is a delay before the Start menu and its submenus display. If you want to make the Start menu open faster, you can change a key in the registry to accomplish this.

Open the Start menu and enter “regedit.msc” (without the quotes) in the search box. Press Enter or click on the regedit.msc link when it displays.

If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.

NOTE: You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings.

In the tree in the left pane of the Registry Editor, navigate to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop key. In the right pane, scroll down until you find the MenuShowDelay data value. Right-click on the name and select Modify from the popup menu.

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In the Value data edit box on the Edit String dialog box, enter a new value between 0 and 4000. This indicates how many milliseconds it takes for the Start menu and any submenus to display. We don’t recommend you use 0 as the value. It might make it hard to navigate through the menus. Click OK to accept your change.

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Select Exit from the File menu to close the Registry Editor. Reboot your computer to apply the change.

Fully Uninstall Unused Programs

Sometimes, when you uninstall a program, remnants are left behind that the uninstaller doesn’t remove. If you install and uninstall a lot of programs, these files can accumulate. How-To Geek shows you how to use Revo Uninstaller to completely uninstall a program or utility from your system.

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Change the Number of Recent Items Shown on the Windows 7 Start Menu

If you have a lot of recent documents displaying in the Recent Items menu on the Start menu, it can slow down access to the menu. It is a quick and easy task to change the number of items that display on the Recent Items menu.

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Delete Unnecessary Items from the Send To Menu

Some programs may add items to the Send To menu when you install them. If so, your Send To menu may become slow to access. However, you can easily customize the Send To menu in Windows and remove items you don’t use or even disable the Send To menu completely.

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Limit the Number of Items in Each Folder

If you have lots of files in a single folder, it can slow down Explorer. It’s best to create multiple folders and spread out the files among the folders.

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Thoroughly Clean Your Computer

The fan in your computer that draws in air to cool the components may become clogged with dust, pet hair, and other forms of dirt. This can cause your system to overheat and run sluggishly and maybe even eventually break down. How-To Geek shows you how to thoroughly clean the inside of your desktop computer.

Install Programs into a Virtual Machine

Installing programs in a virtual machine to test them using a virtualization program like VirtualBox or VMware Workstation or Player keeps your host machine trim and fast and can prevent it from slowing down. When you uninstall them, any remnants are left in the virtual machine, not on your host machine (although, you can also use Revo Uninstaller, as mentioned earlier in this article, to uninstall software completely). Also, you can test how the program itself, when running, affects system resources.

Now, you can be faster and more efficient when working or goofing off!

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/3/12

Comments (31)

  1. Frank

    At the part to reduce delay the Start Menu, I think you made a small mistake. Regedit is an executable file, nota MMC console.

  2. shemul49rmc

    I am going to apply all those, its a lot actually. Bookmarked the page for future purpose !
    Thanks for the post.

  3. r

    yup, regedit is not a snap-in service at all.

    Take care when tweaking some of the stuff mentioned here…or people like me might have to eventually charge you $120.00 an hour to redo what you mess up.

  4. Kent

    I really, really like your summary articles. It can be difficult at times to remember all the related articles and your summary articles bring all your timely information together into one place that is easy to refer to others.

  5. LMFAO

    CCleaner, defrragger, avast or avg free, malwarebytes run them twice in a month

    rock and roll and rollllll

  6. Steve-O-Rama

    How about installing a solid-state drive? They’ve made even some of the slowest and oldest computers I own perform acceptably well.

  7. Brian

    The best way to accelerate a PC is by gravity.

  8. Aurora900

    Brian: What if your PC has hit terminal velocity?

    Anyways, good list. My tools of choice are Ccleaner and Malwarebytes for regular maintenance. They’re pretty good at what they do and work relatively fast too.

  9. Chris

    I’m very fond of Advanced System Care since it does everything Ccleaner does plus it does the job of Defragger, Revo uninstaller, and Disc Cleanup among others. Am I the only one who likes this free program or is anybody out there have problems with ASC?

  10. Ferre

    And the best solution of all : turn to Linux :)

  11. Stijn Verwaaijen

    Or use Linux, BSD and at the same time put the fun back into computing! =]

  12. Jack Cooper

    It should be mentioned that disabling the Windows Search service will cause the search capability in Outlook to not work. This, for me at least, is a bad thing.

  13. Gerald Pratt

    Why doesn’t apple accept adobe flash player?

  14. Robyn

    Yep: Linux. Now my PC is brilliantly fast.

    I did pretty much everything on the list quite some time ago – except for limiting files in a folder and making the Start thingie delay shorter – but Firefox still stuttered for a long time after bootup before it settles down … sort-of. I even did the Soluto thing, and would wait over three minutes at least for the PC to be ready to use.

    Linux: everything works now. Immediately. No delays, no waiting, no stuttering.

  15. Charlie B

    I recommend “Startup Inspector” to decrease start time

    Find it at http://www.windowsstartup.com/

    I t also finds and lets you disable those applications that run from commands in the registry.
    It will also tell you if the things it identify are required or optional.

    Charlie

  16. Vejay

    Delete even Temp, %temp%, prefetch, Increase Virtual memory, MSConfig – remove unwanted startup items, Finally run Disk Defragmenter / Defraggler from Piriform, Publisher of CCleaner. Increase Memory / RAM to max 4 GB on x86 systems and 16+ GB on x64 systems

  17. jpbrogan

    Great tips but – I’m Curious!!!

    You say “Limit the Number of Items in Each Folder”, BUT with no guidance as to what that limit should be!

    I thought Explorer only discovered, and displayed, the highest level of the directory structure; until you worked your way down to expand a folder? It would seem that fewer initial folders would be faster – UNTIL you selected the folder with a large amount of files? Could you please expand upon your reasoning – and maybe a little about how YOU think Explorer works?

  18. Harvey Hawley

    “Disable the Indexing Service in Windows”

    Oh good grief, that old chestnut…

    That may have been vaguely sensible in XP, even then is was doubtful. It is simply stupid in later versions. Once the initial index is built it only runs when new stuff gets added. If you don’t build an index your searches will take forever and the whole point of this article is to speed things up.

  19. Chris

    My main problem with you right now is that you’re using AutoHotkey Basic :P
    I mean come on, it hasn’t been updated since ’09!

  20. Guest

    So there’s a “Basic” Autohotkey and some other more advanced version?

  21. Ron

    Chris – ASC looks as if it is only free to do the scan, any actual corrective actions need the paid for version.

  22. myron

    Thanks for giving the more information about the The Best Tips for Speeding Up Your Windows PC

  23. ChuckTheGeek

    Chris – I also use Advanced System Care and love it! I run it every two weeks and do a deep clean. My only objection is that sometimes it will whack a login cookie and I’ll have to reenter a password, but that’s trivial.

  24. Richard Laughton

    THANK YOU for these! I did it one at a time to make sure no problems.

    Most important, I had not seen the previous posting about REVO UNINSTALLER and it seems to really work great. If I was not sure, I did not delete that specific part – as most were clearly labelled.

    FINALLY I was able to get the three UNIBLUE files off my computer that have been stuck there for years. Those were the last of anything like that I would ever purchase.

    You might want to search for REMOVE UNIBLUE on Google and then insert your comments that your system works.

    Stopping the INDEXING should be a big help.

    Now I am going to reboot and hope everything is still working!

    Richard

  25. Dave

    Do NOT use msconfig to manage startup programs. It causes more problems than its worth. Use Autoruns or CCleaner. Here is an explanation of why.

    http://forums.majorgeeks.com/showthread.php?t=149804

  26. Brdi

    Iobit uninstall is an excellent alterative for revo.
    Extensively tested recently

  27. Sazerac7

    QUOTE
    “Chris
    I’m very fond of Advanced System Care since it does everything Ccleaner does plus it does the job of Defragger, Revo uninstaller, and Disc Cleanup among others. Am I the only one who likes this free program or is anybody out there have problems with ASC?”

    I agree completely! I had been using Ccleaner for 3 or more years until I found Advanced System Cleaner 5. It’s an amazing piece of software that’s FREE! The Pro version only has 4 additional tools. ASC5 found tons of stuff wrong with my system that Ccleaner missed. I highly recommend it

  28. joe

    I use ASC regularly. I have the paid version. The difference in it and the free version is the deep registry error repair. Smart ram and turbo is also the same, but the paid version optimizes better. Both versions actually clean, but I still use CCleaner to clean my browsers. Effective combo….

  29. Eva Putnam

    There is a program written by Andrew Ziem
    http://bleachbit.sourceforge.net/
    that will free cache, delete cookies, clear Internet history, shred temporary files, delete logs, and discard junk you didn’t know was there.
    I have used it many times and highly recommend it.
    Eva

  30. kenedy123

    Thanks for giving the Best Tips for Speeding Up Your Windows PC

  31. ::jake::

    Very good article

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