How to Fix a Slow or Sluggish Windows 11 Computer?

Windows 11 is the next-gen OS experience that Microsoft promises. But for all the new bells and whistles that come with the new operating system, there’s a performance cost. If you’re working with a low to medium-end PC, chances are you will experience some sluggishness when using Windows 11 with the default settings.

Windows 11 is slow and sluggish

When looking at all the things that might make your WIndows 11 OS perform slower than usual, there are actually a lot of different potential culprits.

All of them have a small impact on your system’s performance, but when you add them all up on a system with limited resources you’ll end up experiencing general system sluggishness as your PC struggles to find the computing power required to keep things running smoothly.

Here’s a list of optional Windows 11 features and components that are known to cause your Windows 11 computer to behave slower than usual:

  • Unnecessary Ad-related services – Personalized ads and local content is a cool feature on Windows 11, but one that hogs lots of system resources in the background. If you don’t care for ultra-targeted ads, you can disable ad-related permissions to stop their associated services from running in the background.
  • Windows 11 is set to Best Visuals – Windows 11 gives you the option to switch from performance optimization to the best possible Windows 11 visuals and vice-versa. If you have a low-end CPU and GPU, you might speed up Windows 11 considerably by adjusting the Performance Options to Best Performance.
  • Unnecessary startup services – If you don’t keep the startup services that are allowed to run in check, you will eventually get to a point where Windows 11 will slow down, especially immediately after a fresh startup, as your OS has to load a lot of 3rd party services. You can fix this problem by using Task Manager to track down the services with the biggest resource consumption and prevent them from starting along with every startup.
  • Fragmented OS drive – Windows 11 is smart enough to automatically defragment and optimize the drive where the operating system is installed. But if you’re coming over from an older Windows version where this feature was disabled, you can fix the problem by forcing a disc optimization on your Windows 11 drive.
  • Corrupted System FIle Cache/s – Rendeding dependencies like the ones left behind by DirectX or Temporary Internet Files can also lead to a system slow down on WIndows 11. Fortunately, you can take care of them swiftly by using the Disk Cleanup utility.
  • Temporary Files – If your Temp and Prefetch folders are filling up, expect to see your OS perform increasingly slower. Windows 11 is configured by default to regularly clean & maintain these directories by default. However, you can take matters into your own hand by deleting the contents of the Temp and Prefetch folders.
  • Mouse sluggishness bug – Windows 11 users coming over from an older Windows installation might suffer from a weird bug where the mouse seems to lag behind the actual movement due to a Registry parameter that was incorrectly migrated. In this case, you can fix the issue by using Registry Editor to modify the MouseHoverTime string.
  • System File corruption – System file corruption can also be responsible for this issue, particularly if you only started to experience slow down periods after an unexpected shutdown or after your antivirus quarantined some potentially infected files. In most cases, you can get this issue resolved by running SFC and DISM scans from an elevated Windows Terminal window.
  • Failing drive – In case a lot of this Windows 11 slowdown is centered around you waiting for File Explorer to display files and folders as you’re browsing for stuff, a failing drive is also on the table. In case only a few sectors are affected, you can use the Check Disk utility to replace falling sectors with unused ones.

Now that you are familiarized with every element that might make your Windows 11 computer perform slower, let’s go over the various things that you can do to optimize the performance of your operating system.

Disable Unnecessary Privacy permissions

With Windows 11, Microsoft has made a big push with personalized ads and widgets that will display locally relevant advertising content. While this is all great since you’ll be receiving ads that will actually interest you, it’s not great at all for your overall system performance.

Early Windows 11 adopters are beginning to realize that all these extra services used by Windows 11 to display personalized ads and content end up hogging a lot of precious system resources – while this is not an issue on a high-end PC, expect to experience general sluggishness when utilizing Windows 11 on a system with limited resources.

Fortunately, you can alleviate this problem by accessing the Privacy and Security tab in your Windows 11 settings and disable every unnecessary privacy permission.

Note: This will ensure that the services behind these permissions will no longer run and hog your system resources.

Follow the instructions below for a step-by-step guide on disabling every unnecessary ad permission service on Windows 11 in order to improve the performance of your system:

  1. Press Windows key + I to open up the Settings menu on Windows 11.
  2. From the Settings menu of Windows 11, click on Privacy & Security from the context menu on the left-hand section of the screen.
    Accessing the Privacy and Security tab

    Note: If the vertical menu on the is not visible by default, click on the action icon (top-left corner of the screen) to make it visible.

  3. Inside the Privacy & Security tab, move over to the menu on the right and click on General.

    Accessing the General tab on Windows 11
  4. Next, disable the following options from the General tab of Privacy & security:
    • Let apps show me personalized ads by using my advertising id
    • Let websites show me locally relevant content by accessing my language list
    • Let Windows improve Start and search results by tracking app launches
    • Show me suggested content in the Settings app

      Disable Personalized ads and local content on Windows 11
  5. Next, hit the back icon and click on Speech from the list of available options.
  6. Inside the Speech menu, go ahead and disable the toggle associated with Online speech recognition.

    Disable Speech Recognition on Windows 11
  7. Hit the back icon once again to return to the Privacy & security menu and scroll all the way down to App Permissions.
    Accessing the App permissions on Windows 11
  8. Inside the App permissions menu, go ahead and disable every permission that you’re not really using or care about:
    • Location – disable it if you’re not using SmartLock or a similar location-based feature.
    • Camera – disable it if you don’t have a built-in camera.
    • Voice Activation – disable it if you don’t use voice commands.
    • Contacts – disable it if you don’t maintain a list of contacts on your Windows 11 computer.
    • Phone Calls, Call History, and Messaging – disable them if you don’t make phone calls or send texts from your PC.
  9. Once every unnecessary service and permission has been disabled, reboot your PC and see if the performance of your Windows 11 computer has improved.

If you’re still experiencing slowness and general sluggishness when using your Windows 11 computer, move down to the next method below.

Adjust Performance Options for Best Performance

If the modifications enforced above have only improved the performance of your Windows 11 computer marginally, one more thing that you can adjust is the Performance Options.

As you know, Windows 11 has a lot of new animations that give it that modern aesthetic. But while all of these effects are very pleasing to the eye, they can also have a big impact on your system performance – especially if you’re using PC with a low-end dedicated GPU.

In this case, a trip to the Performance Options (inside System Properties) will allow you to improve the performance of your Windows 11 computer by disabling every unnecessary animation and optimize the UI for the best performance.

Note: Keep in mind that by default, Windows 11 is configured to adjust these settings for the best appearance.

Follow the steps below for the complete instructions on adjusting the Performance Options on Windows 11 for the Best Performance:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘sysdm.cpl’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the System Properties screen.
    Open up the System Properties screen
  2. Once you’re inside the System Properties screen, click on Advanced from the menu at the top, then click on the Settings button associated with Performance.
    Accessing the Settings screen of Performance
  3. Once you’re inside the Performance Options screen, go to Visual Effects using the ribbon bar at the top, then select the Adjust for best performance toggle.
    Adjusting Windows 11 for the best performance
  4. Click Apply to save the changes, then restart your PC and see if the performance of your Windows 11 computer improves.

In case you’re still experiencing general system sluggishness even after making this modification, move down to the next method below to learn how to disable startup services that might affect the performance of your Windows 11 computer.

Disable unnecessary startup services

If you’re only experiencing general sluggishness associated with Windows 11 a few minutes after your computer boots up before the OS finally starts to perform normally, chances are the startup services you presently have configured are hogging a lot of system resources.

In case you find yourself in this particular scenario, you should be able to fix this issue by taking a look at your fleet of Startup items and disable every entry that you don’t actually use.

If you have a lot of unnecessary startup services that have a medium or high impact, this change will dramatically improve the time it takes until your Windows 11 OS start behaving normally once you boot it up.

Follow the instructions below for some step-by-step instructions on disabling every unnecessary startup service on Windows 11:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open up Task Manager on Windows 11.
  2. If you see the simple interface of Task Manager opening, click on Mode details (bottom of the screen) to bring up the expert interface.
    Accessing the Mode details screen

    Note: If the expert interface opens by default, skip this step altogether.

  3. Once you’re inside the expert interface of Task Manager, click on Startup from the horizontal menu at the top.
  4. Next, click on the Startup impact column to order all your startup services based on the impact they have on your system.
    Order services via Startup Impact on Windows 11
  5. Once every startup service is ordered based on the impact they have on your system, right-click on every service that you don’t really need to start along with every startup and click Disable from the context menu.
    Disable every unnecessary startup service on Windows 11
  6. Once every unnecessary service has been disabled, reboot your PC and see if the slowness issues with Windows 11 have been fixed.

In case your Windows 11 installation is still slow and unresponsive, move down to the next potential fix below.

Optimize your OS drive

If most of the slowness associated with Windows 11 happens when you’re using File Explorer or when you’re attempting to copy, move or replace files on your OS drive, chances are you’re dealing with a heavily fragmented drive.

In this case, the best course of action is to use the Optimize Drives feature on WIndows 11 to defragment the drive where Windows 11 is installed to make sure you get the best possible performance out of your HDD or SSD drive.

Several affected users that also utilized this fix have reported that the sluggishness happening when using File Explorer has all but disappeared.

Important: This method won’t do much for you if you just clean installed Windows 11 after formatting the drive. However, it’s known to be very effective in situations where the PC was upgraded to Windows 11 from an older Windows version.

Follow the instructions below for a step-by-step guide on optimizing the drive that is currently storing Windows 11:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘dfrgui.exe’ and press Enter to open up the Optimize Drives window.
    Accessing the Optimize Drives utility
  2. In case you’re prompted by the User Account Control window, click Yes to grant administrative privileges.
  3. Once you’re inside the Optimize Drives window, select tour Windows Drive from the list under Status.
    Selecting the OS drive

    Note: You can recognize the Windows Drive by checking which entry has the little Windows icon.

  4. Next, once you’ve made sure that the correct drive is selected, click on the Optimize button and click Yes to grant admin access.
    Optimizing the drive
  5. Wait until the operation is complete and don’t restart your PC until the operation is complete.
  6. After the drive is optimized, reboot and see if your system performance improves.

Cleanup System Files

If you haven’t done this yet, you should also attempt to utilize the Disk Cleanup utility to make sure you have no unnecessary DirectX Shader Cache, Delivery Optimization Files, Temporary Internet files or Downloaded Program Files that might make your Windows 11 computer perform slower than usual.

If the problem only started to occur recently, follow the instructions below to run a Disk Cleanup scan to remove every unnecessary system file:

Note: Make sure you’re not running any resource-demanding task before following the instructions below.

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘cleanmgr’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the Disk Cleanup utility.
    Opening up the Disk Cleanup Utility
  2. When you’re prompted by the User Account Control prompt, click Yes to grant administrative access.
  3. At the first Disk Cleanup utility, make sure you select the OS (Windows) drive using the Drives drop-down menu.
    Performing a Disk Cleanup on the OS drive

    Note: You can distinguish between a regular drive and the OS drive by looking if for the Windows icon.

  4. Once you’re inside the Disk Cleanup tab, ensure that you select the following items from the box unde Files to Delete:
    • Downloaded Program Files
    • Temporary Internet Files
    • Direct Sharder cache
    • Delivery Optimization Files
  5. Once every type of file mentioned above has been selected, go ahead and click on Clean up system files.

    Cleaning up temp files via Cleanup Manager
  6. When you’re prompted by the User Account Control prompt, hit Yes to grant admin access.
  7. Wait until the operation is complete, then reboot your PC and see if the performance of your Windows 11 computer improves.

If you’re still facing the same kind of issues, move down to the next potential fix below.

Delete Temp and Prefetch items

Another potential culprit that might be causing general system slowness on Windows 11 is corrupted data present in the Temp or Prefetch folder.

Both of these directories are vulnerable to hosting corrupted system files on Windows 11, especially if you’re using insider build versions.

Several users that we’re also noticing that Windows 11 was performing increasingly slowly have confirmed that the Windows 11 became ‘snappy’ again after they cleared both of these directories.

Note: While Temp is a directory used by Windows to store temporary system files related to your applications and system processes, Prefetch is dedicated to storing temporary launch data that is used to improve boot times and program launch times. Both of these directories can be cleared without affecting other OS components.

Follow the instructions below for steps on clearing both the Temp and Prefetch folders on Windows 11:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘temp’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the Temp folder.
    Opening up the Temp folder
  2. When you’re prompted by the User Account Control window, click Continue to grant admin access.
  3. Once you’re inside the temp folder, click inside the folder, then press Ctrl + A to select everything inside, then right-click on a selected item and click on Delete from the context menu that just appeared.
    Deleting the Temp folder on Windows 11
  4. Once every entry present in the Temp folder is cleared, close the File Explorer window.
  5. Open up another Run prompt by pressing Windows key + R. Inside the text box, type ‘prefetch and press Enter to open up the Prefetch folder.
    Opening up the Prefetch folder
  6. At the User Account Control prompt, click Continue to grant admin access.
    Granting admin access
  7. Once you’re inside the Prefetch folder, click on an item inside the folder and then press Ctrl + A to select inside the directory.
  8. Next, once every item is selected, right-click on any selected item and click on Delete to confirm the deletion of every temp file present in the Prefetch folder.
    Deleting the Prefetch folder
  9. Wait until every temporary file is deleted, then restart your PC and see if the performance of your Windows 11 installation has improved.

If the problem is still not fixed, move down to the final fix below.

Adjust the MouseHoverTime (if applicable)

If you feel like the on-screen cursor is lagging behind your actual movement of the mouse, your Windows 11 installation is most likely suffering from the ‘MouseHoverTime bug’ that’s affecting a lot of upgrade PCs that make the transition to Windows 11 from an older Windows installation.

This is most likely the case if only your mouse seems slow but the overall system performance seems normal.

What happens is a Registry value gets incorrectly migrated to WIndows 11 and displays a value that is the wall over the normal parameters. Fortunately, you can fix this issue and resolve the ‘laziness’ of your mouse by using the Registry Editor to modify the MouseHoverTime string to an acceptable value.

Follow the instructions below to enforce this fix:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘regedit’ inside the text box and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open up the Registry Editor tool with admin access.
    Opening up the Registry Editor
  2. At the User Account Control prompt, click Yes to grant admin access.
  3. Once you’re inside the Registry Editor, use the menu on the left to navigate to the following location:
    Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Mouse

    Note: You can either navigate to this location manually or you can paste the full path inside the nav bar at the top and press Enter to get there instantly.

  4. After you’re inside the correct location, move to the right-hand side menu and double-click on the MouseHoverTime string file.
  5. If the value data is 400, change it to 10 and click Ok to save the changes.
    Adjusting the value of MouseHoverTime
  6. Reboot your PC and see if there is an improvement in how your mouse behaves on Windows 11.

If this method was not applicable in your scenario, move down to the next method below.

Running SFC, DISM, and CHKDSK scans

In case none of the methods above have proven to be expective in your case and your hardware should be more than capable of running Windows 11 smoothly, you should start considering a potential issue caused by corrupted system file components or a faulty drive.

First things first, you should do a CHKDSK scan & repair and see if your current storage device has some block issues. In case the drive begins to fail, the Check Disk utility is capable of replacing data sectors going back with unused sectors (if available).

Performing a Check Disk Scan & Repair

Once the Check Disk scan & repair scan is complete, reboot your PC and wait for the next startup is complete before initiating an SFC scan.

Deploying an SFC scan

Note: SFC will replace local file corruption using healthy equivalents from a local storage cache. An internet connection is not required.

Once the SFC scan is complete, reboot your computer once again and wait for the next startup to complete.

Finally, go ahead and deploy a DISM scan.

Deploying a DISM scan

Note: Make sure you have a stable internet connection before deploying a DISM scan. This tool uses the WU component to download healthy system files that will be used to replace corrupted equivalents.

Kamil Anwar
Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.

Expert Tip

How to Fix a Slow or Sluggish Windows 11 Computer?

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