Computers are becoming faster all the time, so how can they feel so sluggish? The issue is that, while CPU manufacturers are constantly increasing their speeds and adding more cores, the software load we expect our PCs to bear is increasing as well. Most high-end processors don’t show their true capabilities unless they’re used with software designed to push them to their limits and take advantage of their unique architectures. Even the best home computers wear out and must be replaced every few years.
Windows 10 is designed to run on low-spec PCs as well as massive gaming rigs, and it includes a plethora of automatic systems to adjust the load it places on your hardware so that it doesn’t need to spin up its cooling fans just because you’ve opened a web browser. It does, however, require assistance from time to time, which is where our information comes in.
A lack of updates
Windows Update does more than just download potentially harmful updates. It rarely does that any longer. Windows 10 updates provide free upgrades to the operating system, including tweaks and efficiencies that can speed things up. You also get updated drivers where Microsoft provides them (check under Optional Updates), which can speed up everything from Bluetooth turning on and connecting to cooling fans acting more efficiently and thus allowing the CPU to work harder for longer. If you have a discrete graphics chip, its manufacturer (Nvidia or AMD) will regularly release driver updates, which you should install even if you’re not using the card for things like gaming or 3D modeling.
A lack of restarts
According to TV, most people just leave their laptops in sleep mode all day so they can flip them open when they get home to continue working/chatting/planning the demise of civilization. We admit that it wouldn’t make for good TV if these PCs had to restart every time the characters stood there and watched, but leaving your computer in sleep mode all the time is one of the leading causes of a slow computer.
They require a restart every now and then – shutting them down at night is ideal – to clear out the number of processes that are running. If these do not exit cleanly, which they frequently do, they will consume processor time that could be better spent on making your PC respond faster. So, what’s the solution? If possible, shut down your computer every night.
There are too many startup apps.
When Windows 10 boots up, it is joined by a slew of other programs, all of which can have an impact on how fast your PC feels. Some of these programs may be useful, but others you may never use or recognize. Windows includes a Start-up Apps screen (Settings > Apps > Startup) that displays which apps start with your computer and measures their impact.
It also allows you to turn them off, so go in hard and turn off everything you don’t recognize or use, as well as those that are negatively impacting your PC’s performance. After restarting, you’ll notice a difference, and if turning off apps has an unanticipated consequence, such as affecting the performance of an app you use frequently, you can always go back and turn it back on again.
Windows 10 occupies about 20GB of your hard drive; the rest is taken up by your documents, applications, temporary files generated by the operating system, and virtual memory, which is what happens when your RAM overflows and Windows needs a place to store the data. Virtual memory is slow, but what’s even slower is not having enough space to use it, so it’s recommended that you keep at least 10% of your hard drive free. External hard drives are inexpensive and simple to use, so dumping a bunch of old documents onto one and freeing up some space can make a significant difference.
Transparency and graphic effects
Windows 10 has some nice effects, such as the ability to see your desktop wallpaper through a semi-translucent window that’s laying above it, but these things consume processor time. Turn off all effects if you want the best possible performance.Normally, Windows handles these things, but you can disable transparency effects by going to Settings > Personalization > Colors. Then, go to the Control Panel, type ‘Performance,’ and click on the Performance Options button. In the Visual Effects tab, select ‘Adjust for best performance.’
This is getting close to buying a new PC, but if you can open up the case and get inside with a screwdriver (which is easier with desktop models than laptops), you can add a few bits to speed things up. The absolute best thing you can do for a failing PC is to replace its hard drive with an SSD.
The new solid-state drives are so much faster than old spinning hard drives that it’s like night and day and installing Windows 10 and your apps on an SSD will give your PC a new lease on life. The best part is that, as long as your PC isn’t so old that it still uses ATA hard drives, you should have no trouble finding an SSD that fits the SATA sockets on your motherboard.
Adding RAM is more difficult because it must match the slots on your PC’s motherboard as well as any existing sticks if you intend to keep them. However, adding more RAM is a good way to boost performance because it prevents Windows from using your hard drive as ‘virtual memory’ when it runs out of RAM to use, and virtual memory is extremely slow. Windows 10 requires only 2GB of RAM, but 8GB makes a significant difference. New sticks simply snap into empty slots, but you must be certain that you are using the correct type, or it will either not fit, not work, or actually slow down your PC.
Third, if you’re working with photos, videos, 3D, or games, a discrete graphics card can help. It doesn’t have to be a high-end gaming one, but anything that relieves the integrated graphics processor in your PC’s CPU will help. To do this, you’ll need an empty PCIe slot of the appropriate speed, as well as a power feed from the PC’s PSU, so make sure you know what you’re doing before you start.