Everybody loves a quick fix and, thankfully, a lot of simple Windows optimizations are easy to apply. If you’re dealing with a sluggish Windows PC, you owe it to yourself to try one (or all!) of these tweaks.
Audit Your Startup Programs
You know how letting your web browser get bogged down with a pile of extensions just ruins the browsing experience? Well, Windows isn’t much different. Except instead of extensions, the dead weight comes from loading everything and the kitchen sink when Windows starts.
Performing a startup program audit is really simple, and you’ll see immediate results on your next boot. You can even get results immediately by closing any unneeded apps piled up in the notification tray.
Disable Windows Animations
This one is more of a psychological hack than an actual performance hack. Windows has a plethora of little animations that you may have never really paid much attention to (like the animation for minimizing and maximizing windows).
When you see the animation, it feels like something is happening (and taking time in the process). When you disable the animations the action appears to happen instantly. You’re not going to see a performance change at the CPU-utilization level or anything, but the computer will feel faster.
Check Disk Utilization
Just like your phone starts acting weird when you pack it too full of apps and photos, your computer does the same. Windows needs a certain amount of free space for daily operations, saving files for hibernation, and so on.
Now’s the time to take advantage of Window’s disk space management tools and free up some space.
Updates in early 2022 to the popular disk cleaning app CCleaner make it even more useful, so if you’re a fan of the app, make sure you’re running the most current edition to give your PC an even deeper clean.
And it’s never a bad time to consider upgrading a small hard drive to a bigger one. There is no time like the present to swap your small or old mechanical HDD with a spacious SSD.
You might not be able to pull off an upgrade in our suggested 5-minute window, but it’s worth putting aside a few hours on Saturday as an HDD to SSD upgrade is about the single most effective speed upgrade you could ask for short of buying a new computer.
Remove Unused Apps and Purge Bloatware
If you have the space to spare and the apps don’t load on startup, there isn’t much harm in leaving an app just sitting there if you think you might need it in the future.
But, if you have applications you don’t use that come with a slew of “helper” apps that give you a performance hit at Windows startup or that just have huge files clogging up your disk, uninstalling them is a great way to get a free performance boost. Windows will load faster, extra space on the disk makes everything run more efficiently, and there’s just not much downside.
In addition to the apps you installed, be sure to look at the apps you didn’t. If you bought a prebuilt machine from a major manufacturer like Dell, HP, and so on, there is a good chance that it’s packed with bloatware apps you don’t need. Manufacturers love packing prebuilt Windows PC with bloatware.
You can manually remove bloatware, but if you run into some really tricky and enmeshed bloatware that won’t budge, consider using Window’s “Fresh Start” function.
Scan for Malware
Old school viruses and malware tended to have a dramatic effect like your computer crashing because critical files were deleted. While those kinds of viruses never went away entirely, the new motivation behind releasing malware isn’t primarily mayhem but access to resources.
In the case of your computer, the resource is computing power and the internet connection. So often times a malware infection will make your computer feel sluggish because even though you’re not using all the system resources up, somebody else is.
Make sure Windows Defender is up to date, and it never hurts to tack on an additional tool like Malwarebytes.
While Windows Defender is a solid antivirus solution, Malwarebytes does an excellent job not just catching malicious software but also notifying you of Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs)—software that isn’t explicitly a virus but that you probably don’t want on your computer.