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Tech tips

Slow computer? 9 ways to make it run faster

Anyone who uses a computer has probably experienced PC slowdown. Your programs open sluggishly, web browsing seems pokey, apps are lagging and your computer startup time is worse than you remember.

Even Windows 10 is not immune to these occasional lags, and it could be a bit frustrating trying to figure out what’s going on — especially with a relatively new operating system. Not running Windows 10 yet? Tap or click here to upgrade from Windows 7 to 10.

But before you throw your computer out the door, try these tricks. They might save you some cash and your sanity.

1. Check your hard drive space and temporary files

As you accumulate files and programs, your storage eventually fills up. This could potentially slow down your system as it takes longer to search for the data it needs. It is recommended you have at least 15% free space on your operating system drive for optimal performance.

In Windows 10, the easiest way to check for free space is to open File explorer from the taskbar and click This PC. Look under Devices and drives to see the available space.

Selecting a drive will show you a breakdown of what kind of system data is occupying it. A category you might want to check first is Temporary Files. Here, Windows 10 could automatically clear all the temp files that the system doesn’t require to run, like temporary internet and program files and caches.

Note: You might have a section here called “Previous version of Windows.” It’s quite large, about 30GB, but don’t delete this section if you plan on ever returning to previous versions of Windows.

2. Uninstall programs you don’t use

Most of the time, we have applications we installed, used once then completely forgot about. These programs still occupy hard drive space and may even have temporary files and folders installed.

They could even be running in the background, sucking out memory and resources from your PC, which is why it’s been so sluggish lately. It’s in your best interest to track these programs down and uninstall them.

To do this in Windows 10, there are actually a few ways:

  • To uninstall from the Start menu: Click the Start button and look for the app or program. Press and hold (or right-click) the app and select Uninstall.
  • Uninstall from Settings: Start button >> Settings >> Apps >> Apps & features >> select the app you want to delete and click Uninstall.
  • From the Control Panel: Open taskbar and search Control Panel. Select it from the results >> Programs >> Programs and Features. Press and hold (or right-click) the program you want to delete and click Uninstall or Uninstall/Change. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process.

3. Turn off visual effects

With all its visual effects and gimmicks, Windows 10 could be pretty. Too pretty. If your computer is not up to par, it might struggle to render all the fancy transitions and transparencies, siphoning resources from the more important processes.

Thankfully, in Windows 10 you can choose what visual effects to run or even let the system decide for you.

RELATED: 7 ways to customize your Windows computer

Open the search box on the taskbar or Start menu >> type performance >> select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows. Under Visual Effects tab, click Adjust for best performance >> Apply.

Restart your computer to see if this trick helps speed things up.

4. Prevent unnecessary startup programs

If your computer takes its sweet time to start up, giving you the infamous spinning wheel of patience before you can take control, then there might be a few non-essential programs clogging your startup process.

Windows 10 makes it easy to check your startup programs. Just click the Start button >> Settings >> Apps >> Startup. In this area, find the program you don’t want to start automatically and set it to off.

For Windows 10 (Version 1709 or earlier), press Ctrl + Alt + Delete >> Task Manager >> Startup, select the program you want to stop from starting automatically >> Disable. Be careful what you remove though. Some essential programs, like anti-virus or firewall software, may not run properly if you disable them on startup.

To see which version of Windows you’re running, press the Start button >> Settings >> System >> About.

5. Clean out malware

Another reason your computer may be running slower than usual is malware. This is the worst kind of slowdown since malicious programs may be sucking up resources while stealing your personal data. A slow computer is the least of your concerns if this is the case. Removing said malware should be your top priority.

There are free online tools that will assist you in checking and removing malware, spyware and virus infections. Microsoft offers the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool.

It was designed to help keep your PC free from malware and it can remove threats, reverse changes these threats made and comes with Windows updates by default. But if you don’t regularly update your device, we understand. Tap or click here to learn about the Windows 10 updates issues.

To install the latest version of Windows Malicious Software, visit Microsoft’s website and click Download, then either start the tool as soon as it downloads by clicking Run, or save the download to your computer and launch it later by clicking Save.

Note: This option is for computers running 64-bit operating systems.

When you’re ready, open the tool to start scanning. This does need to be done while you’re logged in with local administrator privileges.

6. Defrag your drives

Defrag Win 10

If your hard disk is fragmented, then your system will take more time finding the resources it needs. Defragmenting rearranges the data on your hard disk to make it more efficient.

Windows 10 optimizes and defragments drives automatically, according to a schedule. But if you want to perform a manual defrag, click Start >> search for Disk Defragmentor >> Click Disk Defragmenter and under Current status, select the disk you want to defrag.

If you’re not sure how to tell if a disk needs to be defragmented, click the Analyze disk option. You may be prompted for an administrator password or confirmation.

Once Windows analyzes the disk, you can check the percentage of fragmentation in the Last Run column. If the number is higher than 10%, you need to defrag. From here, click Defragment disk. Again, you may be prompted for administrator password or confirmation.

7. Hardware solutions

If you have tried all the previous free system tweaks and your system is still not running as quickly as you would want it to, then it’s time to look into hardware solutions, like adding more RAM (Random Access Memory).

Extra RAM is extremely affordable and adding a stick or two to your system configuration is easy. If your computer lags and freezes when you have multiple programs open, adding more RAM will definitely help you out.

How much RAM you need depends on how you use your system. Just to be safe, we recommend adding anywhere from four to 16GB. The Timetic Hynix IC 4GB RAM module is very affordable on Amazon.

if you want 16GB, we recommend the Corsair Vengeance 16GB RAM module. With nearly 25,000 ratings and a score of 4.5/5 stars, this is definitely the RAM you want to go with.

If you’re not sure how to install RAM, here’s a FAQ and how-to video from Corsair.

8. Restart occasionally

Believe it or not, as simple as it seems, restarting your computer at least once a week does wonders for your system. It flushes out the RAM and ends processes and services that did not close out gracefully.

Restarting may be a hassle sometimes but it could also be the only thing you need to speed up an abnormally sluggish PC. There’s a reason IT members always ask, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

9. Clean your computer – literally

If you have had your computer for a while, chances are dust has accumulated and it is grossly blocking your computer vents and airflow. This might lead to overheating and your computer is slowing down to lessen the load on your CPU.

A blast of compressed air may do the trick, but for heavy-duty cleaning, use a specialized vacuum or a blower to get rid of those nasty dust bunnies. Try the XPOWER A-2 Airrow pro multi-use electric computer duster.

This handy device is perfect for pushing the dust out from electronics and comes with customizable tips to help you clean your computer or even blow up air mattresses and inflatable pool toys. Tap or click here for more ways to properly clean your computer.

Now that you have all the tips you need to speed up your device, you’ll have it up and running like new in no time.

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