Think of your average computer as a hose: With time and use, a water hose develops minor cuts along its length, accumulates debris on the inside, and experiences structural degradation. All of these (and other hindrances) combined make the flow of water through the hose slower and the hose less effective at its job.
When your water hose no longer operates at full capacity, you simply go out and buy a new one. Unfortunately, however, spending a small fortune on replacing your slightly slowed down computer every year is not an option. But neither is using a computer that has become agonizingly slow, for that matter.
What makes your computer slow down in the first place
- Registry errors – Errors in the system registry and corrupted registry entries, especially in large numbers, can take a significant toll on a PC and its performance. The registry is quite possibly the most unkempt part of the average computer, silently suffocating your PC from the shadows.
- Malware, adware and other security breaches – An incredibly common side-effect of malware, adware, and virus infections is decreased computer performance and increased process lag. Infections overload your computer and integral system processes with malicious information, causing a massive slowdown.
- Corrupt system files – As time goes on, some of a computer’s system files can become corrupt or damaged. If a large enough number of system files (or any amount of essential system files) get corrupted, the computer will start to feel slower.
- Low disk space – You should ideally avoid using all of the disk space you have, especially on the partition of your hard drive Windows is installed on. The less disk space your computer has, the more likely you are to experience performance loss.
- Unnecessary applications and programs – A computer can also slow down if it has a lot of unnecessary and unused applications installed. Applications configured to launch at startup are especially dangerous. Your computer has to expend resources to run and manage each program installed on it – the more resources it has to use, the slower it will be at performing other tasks.
Steps to Optimize PC for Improved Speed and Performance
Thankfully, everything responsible for slowing a computer down (short of hardware degradation or damage) is reversible. If you find yourself in front of a PC that feels magnitudes slower than it should, here are some of the things you can try to speed it up:
1. Fix Registry errors
- On an internet browser of your choice, make your way to the official CCleaner website and click on Download Free Version.
- When you are automatically scrolled down to the Which CCleaner version is right for you section, click on Free Download under CCleaner Free.
- On the next screen, click on Download under the FREE section.
- Wait for your download to begin.
- Once the CCleaner installer (named ccsetupxxx.exe) has been successfully downloaded, navigate to where it was downloaded to, locate it and double-click on it to run it.
- Follow the onscreen instructions and prompts to complete the installation.
- Once the installation has been completed, launch CCleaner.
- In the left pane of CCleaner, navigate to the Registry tab.
- Click on Scan for Issues.
- Wait for CCleaner to completely scan your computer’s registry for issues.
- When the scan is complete, click on Fix Selected Issues
- If you would like to create a backup of all the registry keys that will be altered in some way as part of this process, click on Yes in the resulting popup and specify a destination for the backup file. If you would like to proceed without creating a backup, click on No.
- Click on Fix All Selected Issues.
2. Run an SFC scan
The System File Checker is a built-in Windows utility designed to check for and repair/replace damaged system files. System File Checker isn’t running round the clock on your computer – it needs to be manually engaged by the user. Since corrupt/damaged system files are forerunners when it comes to slowing down your computer, anyone experiencing a slowdown should run an SFC scan on their computer.
3. Uninstall programs you don’t use
Any applications installed on your computer that you don’t use often are simply a waste of space and resources. The resources your computer allocates to these unused applications will be much better utilized keeping its performance up, which is why you should always uninstall programs you don’t use. When you get to the Apps & features screen, scour the list of installed programs for any you do not recognize or don’t regularly use, and proceed to uninstall them.
4. Check for Malware and Adware
Malware infections can take a massive toll on your computer’s memory and performance. If you suspect your PC might be playing host to some nasty malware, you can use Malwarebytes to check for and deal with malware:
- On an internet browser of your choice, navigate to the official Malwarebytes Downloads page and click on Download Free.
- Wait for the Malwarebytes installer (titled MBSetup.exe) to be downloaded.
- Navigate to where the installer was downloaded to, locate it, and double-click on it to run it.
- Follow the onscreen instructions and prompts to install the application.
- Launch Malwarebytes.
- Navigate to the Scan tab.
- Click on Custom Scan.
- Check all of the boxes in the left pane.
- Select the partitions of your hard drive you want to scan in the right pane. Be sure to include the partition Windows is installed on.
- Click on Scan Now.
- Wait for Malwarebytes to scan your computer. This process may take up to 6 hours depending on your computer’s performance and the amount of disk space the program has to scan.
- Once the scan has been completed, click on Quarantine All to effectively rid your computer of all detected threats.
Once you have quarantined all infections found by Malwarebytes, run AdwCleaner to scan for and remove adware.
- On an internet browser of your choice, go to the AdwCleaner Download page and click on Download.
- Locate the downloaded executable and double-click on it to run it.
- Malwarebytes AdwCleaner should now be running and on your screen. Click on Scan Now.
- Select all of the detected items and click on Quarantine.
- If required to do so, restart your computer once all detected threats have been quarantined.
5. Allocate more space to the system partition
The less space the partition of your hard drive Windows is installed on has, the slower your computer is going to be. That being the case, you should extend your hard drive’s system partition and allocate more disk space to it well before you start running out. A decent waypoint for when you should start thinking about allocating more space to a PC’s system partition is when it is over 60% full.
6. Reinstall Windows
If all else fails, you can always start from scratch by actually starting from scratch. If you clean install Windows, there is a good chance you will get rid of whatever was causing your PC to slow down on the previous Windows installation. Before you perform a clean install of Windows, be sure to back up any data from your current Windows installation that you don’t want to lose.