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Do It Yourself PC Tune-Up Guide

Slow Computer? Here are 14 ways to get it running faster for free. These tips can help you to go from a sluggish computer to a faster, more efficient one.

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Is your computer running slow and is causing disruptions in your work? We understand the issues a slow computer can cause, and so, we are here with some helpful ways to help you target and solve this issue.

In this article, check out our tips on how you can clean your hard drive, delete temporary files, and add in more memory. We also have several other steps that can help make your computer run at lightning speed.

Before any of these steps, we always recommend you to do a complete backup of your computer. Just in case something goes wrong, we’d hate to see you lose any files. Read our article on How to Back-up Windows 10 to get started.

Step 1: Identify the obvious causes that slow down your computer

It is understandable that your computer has a lot of programs, most of which use a lot of resources. In such cases, it is important for you to decide whether you need them or not.

Casey’s Tip: You only need one virus scanner, if you have more than one, remove the second! Virus scanners such as McAfee, BidDefender, AVG are HUGE HUGE HUGE resource hogs! Review the image below for an example of how much resources MacAfee uses on your computer.

These programs could be high-level apps or something that starts up automatically but which you do not use. There could also be some programs that you have forgotten about. There are certain programs that do not use many resources when you are not using them.

Others, however, use up a lot of processing power and RAM storage. This is especially true if they use the internet for checking updates or are working on a task.

Due to these programs, your computer can start lagging behind and make it extremely slow for you to switch between programs.

You can check which programs are using the most resources by following the steps below:

Step 1: Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete at the same time.

Step 2: Go to Task Manager.

Step 3: Here, go to the Processes tab.

You can see a list of all programs that are currently open. You can also view how much CPU and storage these programs are using. If you do not wish to use these programs, you can close them. Doing this will reallocate the resources to the programs that you are using. Examples below.

Virus Scanner Example Usage 

You can see that McAfee is using 13% of your CPU usage! This sample computer only has 2GB of RAM (Pretty uncommon these days) and it is using 241Mb / 2000MBs or almost 10% of your Ram as well.

Sample Task Manager Computer Usage

This is a screenshot of my Task manager. As you can see, Adobe Creative Cloud (Big resource program) is using the most of my CPU, and I don’t even have the program open! This is just the launcher program to load the programs.

Ensure that you have the latest updates for Windows and Device Drivers

A very simple yet effective way of ensuring that your PC is giving you maximum performance is to make sure that you have updated your Windows with the latest version. When you check for Windows updates, your PC will automatically search for the latest device drivers.

Installing the latest device drivers can also help improve the performance of your PC.

Follow these steps to check for updates:

Step 1: Click on the Start Button. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Check for updates.

This will start looking for the latest updates available for your Windows.

Step 2: You have two options now:

  • When you check for updates and it says, “You are up to date,” you can just move on to the next tip.
  • And if after checking for updates, it says “Updates are available,” you can click on Install now. This will start installing the latest updates for your PC.

Step 3: Here, you can select the updates that you would like to install and then click on Install.

Step 4: Now, you can try restarting your PC to check if there are any improvements in your PC’s performance.

Restart your PC and open the apps that you need

When you have too many apps, programs, and web browsers open on your PC, it can hamper its performance and slow it down. If you think this is causing issues with the speed of your PC, you can close all these programs. This may improve the performance. However, if you think that this did not help, you can restart your PC. After this, open only those browsers, apps, and programs that you need.

Here is how you can restart your PC:

Step 1: Click on the Start button > Power > Restart.

Step 2: Open only the apps and programs that you need after you restart your computer. Also, when you are done using the program, close all of them.

It is also possible that some apps and programs were made for an earlier version of Windows. When you update your Windows, these apps may not work as fine as they did and may even slow down your computer. In such cases, you can check the software company’s website. Here, you can check the updated version of these apps for your updated version. You can also run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter.

Here is how you can run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter:

Step 1: Go to the search bar on the taskbar. Here, type Troubleshoot and then go to Troubleshoot Settings. When you open that, you can see all the System settings that are listed here.

Step 2: In this list of troubleshooters, go to Program Compatibility Troubleshooter and then go to Run the Troubleshooter.

Step 3: Out of the list, go to the program that is causing problems. Then, click on Next and continue through the Troubleshooting steps.

Try ReadyBoost to help speed up the performance of your PC

ReadyBoost is something that helps you use a removable drive, most preferably a USB flash drive, in order to improve the performance of your PC. You do not have to open your PC to add more RAM to it. All you need to use ReadyBoost is a USB flash drive or a memory card with at least 500 MB free. The transfer rate should also be high.

Here are the steps that you can follow to use ReadyBoost:

Step 1: Take your USB flash drive and insert it into the USB port of your PC.

Step 2: Go to the taskbar and select File Explorer.

Step 3: Go to USB Flash Drive or SD card, depending on what you are using. Press and hold it. You can also right-click it. Then, go to Properties.

Step 4: Next, go to the ReadyBoost tab and click on Use this Device.

Windows will automatically check if the device can use ReadyBoost. It will let you know if it is not compatible and if you can’t use it.

Step 5: After Windows checks for the free space that is required to optimize your PC’s memory, you can click on OK to reserve this space. ReadyBoost will then use this space.

To check how much space is reserved for ReadyBoost, you can open the contents of the USB flash drive or the SD card. Here you can see a file that is named ReadyBoost.sf cache. This file shows you the information.

Ensure that the page file size is being managed

Windows uses memory from various places, including the paging file. The paging file is located on the hard disk. On Windows 10, you can automatically determine and manage the page file size. This can help to improve the performance of your PC.

Here is how you can ensure that the automatic page file management is on:

Step 1: Go to the taskbar and type Advanced System in the search box. After this, go to View Advanced System Settings. Here, you will find Control Panel listed.

Step 2: Go to System Properties. Then, select the Advanced Tab and go to Settings that are there in the Performance area.

Step 3: When you go to the Performance area, you will find the Advanced tab. Go to it and then to Change in the Virtual memory area.

Step 4: Here, you can see Automatically Manage Paging File Size for all Drivers. Make sure that you select the check box to turn this feature on. When you select this check box, restart your PC by following these steps:

Start > Power > Restart

Check if your disk is low on space and free up space

You can also improve your PC’s performance by freeing up disk space. Another option is upgrading to a SSD from a HDD or installing more storage capacity if you’ve already done this.

Additional Reading: SSDs vs HDDs: Why You Need to Upgrade to Solid State Drive

Here are the steps to let you check for low disk space:

Step 1: Click on the Start Button.

Step 2: Go to Settings. Here, go to System and then to Storage.

All your drives will be listed here. You can check the free space and the total size of these drives here.

You can also delete unnecessary and temporary files using Storage Sense. Doing this can also free up plenty of space.

When you turn on Storage Sense, Windows will automatically get rid of all the files that are unnecessary. These also include all the files in the Recycle Bin. This is done when the PC is low on disk space or at the intervals specified by you. This can help to automatically free up space in your PC and improve its performance.

Use Storage Sense:

Step 1: Go to the Start Button and select Settings.

Step 2: Go to System and then to Storage.

Step 3: Select Temporary Files that you will find here. If you are not able to see Temporary Files, you can click on Show More Categories.

Step 4: It will take a few moments for Windows to determine the files and apps that are using up the most space in your computer.

Step 5: When this has been calculated by Windows, you can select the files that you wish to delete and then click on Remove Files.

You can also go through the files that are in your Recycle Bin to see if you would like to remove all of them. You can open the Recycle Bin from your desktop. If you do not see the icon on your desktop, you can go to the taskbar and type Recycle Bin in the search bar. From the results, go to Recycle Bin.

Configuring Storage Sense:

Step 1: Go to Start > Settings > System > Storage.

Step 2: When you go to Storage, you will see Storage Sense. Click on it. Then, select Configure Storage Sense, or you can also click on Run it now.

Step 3: You will see all your temporary files here. You can delete all these temporary files that my apps are not using.

Step 4: You can select the files that you want Storage Sense to delete. For this, you can prioritize the files in the Recycle Bin and the Downloads folder. After you have selected these files, you can select the time intervals at which you want the cleaning to happen.

Step 5: Select Clean Now to start the process of removing these files from your PC.

Step 6: It will take a few moments for Windows to clean these files. Once it is done, you will see a pop-up that will show you how much disk space has been cleared.

In case your PC does not have Storage Sense, you can use Disk Cleanup to free up space in your system.

Here is how you can use it:

Step 1: Go to the taskbar. In the search bar, type Disk Cleanup and then select the corresponding result.

Step 2: You will see a list of all your files here. You can select the ones that you want to delete. The Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, and Thumbnails are automatically selected for removal. If you do not want to delete these, you can uncheck the boxes.

Step 3: You can go to Clean up system files to free up additional space in your system. It will take a few moments for Disk Cleanup to estimate the amount of space that this step will help clear up.

Step 4: Now, you can select the files that you wish to delete. When that is done, simply click on OK and then Delete Files. This will give confirmation, and the cleanup will begin.

If even after cleaning up, your computer is running slow, you can try uninstalling the apps that you do not need and use anymore.

Here is how you can uninstall the apps:

Step 1: Click on the Start button. Go to Settings > Apps > Apps & Features.

Step 2: If you have a particular app in mind that you do not need, you can search for it. You can also choose the app from the list there. Once you have selected, you can proceed by clicking on Uninstall.

Step 3: When the uninstallation is complete, you need to restart your PC to see if there is any improvement in performance.

If you feel like there is no change in the performance and your PC is still lagging, you can try moving photos and music to removable media. You can connect the media to your PC when you need access to them, but since they will not be stored in the system anymore, they will not take up space.

Here is how you can move your files:

Step 1: Connect a removable media to your system, for instance, a USB drive.

Step 2: Go to File Explorer and look for the files that you would want to move to the USB drive.

Step 3: Select all these files. Go to Home > Move to > Choose the location.

Step 4: From the list of locations, choose your USB drive or any other removable drive that you are using. Then, select Move.

Step 5: Restart your PC after this step to see if there is any improvement in performance.

Change the appearance and performance of Windows

There are several visual effects that are a part of Windows. These include animations and shadow effects. Using these can have an excellent aesthetic impact on your PC, but they also use extra system resources and slow down your PC. This is evident in PCs that have a lower RAM.

Here is how you can adjust the visual effects on Windows:

Step 1: Go to the taskbar and type Performance in the search bar. Here, go to Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.

Step 2: Go to the Visual Effects tab and select Adjust for best performance. When you have selected that, click on Apply.

Step 3: When you are done with it, restart your PC to see if these changes have caused your system to speed up.

Pause OneDrive syncing

With the help of your system settings, you can choose where you want to save your files by default. These files can be saved either on your PC or to OneDrive. This is done by syncing the files between the two locations.

This option lets you have access to your files no matter which device you are using. The only requirement is that you should be able to connect to the internet. This is an excellent way to back up your files in case your PC is damaged or lost.

However, the syncing process between your system and OneDrive can seriously impact the speed of your PC.

You can pause this syncing by following these steps:

Step 1: Go to OneDrive, which you can find near the notification area on the taskbar.

Step 2: Go to More and then go to Pause syncing. You can then choose the amount of time for which you want the syncing to be paused.

Step 3: When you have done this, you can restart your PC to see if your PC’s performance is better.

Disable Unnecessary Startup Programs

Some programs start up automatically every time you turn on your PC. These programs also keep running in the background and hence take up valuable system resources. You can disable these startup programs to stop them from running every time you turn on your PC. There are many programs that automatically run, and you will not even realize that they are running. These programs also open quickly when you go to open them.

Find which programs start automatically when you open your PC

You can easily check which programs start automatically simply by checking out the program icons. You can find these programs in the notification area of the taskbar. You can check for these programs there and see if you do not want them to start automatically. If you want to know the name of the program, you can bring your mouse pointer to this icon. You also need to click on Show hidden icons so that everything is in front of you and you do not miss out on anything.

Here is how you can stop a program from automatically starting up when you open your PC:

Step 1: Click on the Start button. Go to Setting > Apps > Startup

Step 2: When you reach the Startup Apps area, you need to look for the program that you would wish to stop from starting up automatically. Set the program to Off.

If you turn a program off, but it still continues to start up when Windows start.

Sample to the right: I have Cortana turned off (never use it), and I also keep Google Drive (big data hog on, because I work exclusively in that app). In addition, I leave all my Adobe programs open, because I load those frequently. If I didn’t use QuickBooks, or Adobe often, i’d set them to off, and they wouldn’t automatically launch on start-up.

Remove Viruses and Malware from your system

Your PC could also be running slowly due to the presence of viruses and malware in your system. The symptoms include unexpected pop-ups, programs that start up automatically, and the sound of your hard disk running constantly.

Additional Reading: How to Tell if Your Computer Has a Virus

The best way in which you can get rid of viruses and malware is to prevent them by running in your system. For this, you can use anti-malware and antivirus software. You also need to ensure that these are up-to-date. Even after you take all precautions, your system can still get affected by these malicious types of software.

You can use Windows Security to scan for the presence of viruses in your system.

Here is how you can scan for viruses using Windows Security:

Step 1: Go to the Start button. Go to Settings and then click on Update & Security. Next, go to Windows Security and select Open Windows Security.

Step 2: On the page now, click on Virus & threat protection. After this, go to Check for updates under the Updates section of the Virus & threat protection.

Step 3: When the Protection Updates screen opens up, go to Check for Updates. Here, you can ensure that you have the latest updates for security.

Step 4: Now, go to Virus & Threat protection and click on Quick Scan.

All you need to do now is wait for Windows Security to do a quick scan of your system and detect any viruses or malicious software.

Step 5: Depending on the scan results you get, you can follow either of the following steps:

  1. Start running the recommended Advanced scan. This is a complete scan of your PC and so will take longer than a quick scan. However, this is beneficial as it thoroughly checks your PC for all kinds of threats.
  2. If the scan results in a virus or malware that cannot be removed from the system or even quarantined, you need to contact Microsoft Support for assistance.
  3. If there are no viruses, you can restart your PC.

Increase the RAM

Your computer may also be running slow due to insufficient RAM storage. This can cause the system to lag even when performing the simplest of tasks.

You can follow these steps to see how much RAM does your computer currently have:

Step 1: Click on the Start button.

Step 2: Go to My Computer. Here, right-click on the main drive, which usually is the C Drive.

Step 3: Go to Properties and then to System. Here you can see the amount of RAM space you have.

Use System Restore Point to restore your PC

When you restore your PC, you undo all the recent changes that you made to your system. These changes could be the main reason for your PC slowing down. If you suspect that an app, driver, or update you recently installed on your system could be the reason for the lag, you need to restore your PC. This will help your system run more smoothly. The restore happens to an earlier point, which is known as a restore point.

Here is how you can restore your PC from a restore point:

Step 1: Go to the taskbar. On the search bar, type Restore point. When you do that, go to Create a restore point from the list of results that you get.

Step 2: Then, go to the System Protection tab and then select System Restore.

Step 3: Go to Next and select the restore point related to the app, driver, or update that you believe is causing problems with your PC. When you have identified the problem area, you can select it and click on Next and finally on Finish.

Step 4: After this process is complete, you will need to restart your PC to see if these changes have improved the performance of your system.

In case you do not see any restore points, it is possible that your PC does not have system protection turned on.

Here is how you can turn on system protection:

Step 1: Go to the taskbar, and in the search box, type restore point. Then, you can select Create a restore point from the list of results that you get.

Step 2: Next, go to the System Protection tab and then select Configure.

Step 3: From here, you can turn on system protection. When you have turned it on, click on OK.

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A slow system can make working on it extremely frustrating. In order to fix your system, you do not need to make huge changes to your PC. You only need to follow these small steps mentioned above to see an improvement in your PC’s performance. Cleaning your disk, uninstalling unused apps, removing viruses, using removable media, amongst others, are some tips that you can follow.

Now, if all these seem too much for you, then just get in touch with your friendly and local computer repair services provider, Gophermods. We are fast, and we are affordable.