Working with a slow computer is a frustrating experience that hinders productivity. Even if you regularly maintain your computer, there are many factors that can hinder its performance and reliability. For one, it’s normal for computers to slow down over time as more programs and updates are installed. This can result in temporary files being left behind to clog up hard drive space and unwanted services running in the background.
Thankfully, unless your computer is over five years old, chances are you don’t need to replace it just yet. Many common issues can be resolved with regular maintenance and updates. None of these technical operations are particularly complicated either, and contrary to the dodgy advertising on the internet, you don’t need to buy any “registry cleaners” or other ineffective snake-oil applications.
#1. Prevent unused programs from launching at startup
If it’s taking a while to load your desktop, then you probably have too many programs and services set to run at startup. Many programs are configured by default to start alongside Windows, including popular applications like Skype and Slack. Unless you need these apps running all the time, disable them from the Task Manager, which you can access by right-clicking on the taskbar. Consider disabling any startup programs listed with a medium to high startup impact.
#2. Update your operating system, drivers, and apps
Keeping your software up to date brings more benefits other than security, like improved performance and functionality. While some Windows 10 programs can be set to update automatically, most drivers or software need some interaction from the user. It’s often tempting to dismiss pop-up messages and system tray notifications asking you to update, but it’s a bad idea. Staying on top of patches resolves many performance, reliability, and security-related problems.
#3. Find and uninstall resource-intensive programs
Some programs are more resource-hungry than others not just because they’re carrying out more complex tasks. While you’d expect computer-aided design software, for example, to be resource-intensive, you probably wouldn’t think the same of a web browser or messaging app. Unfortunately, some programs are just poorly optimized and older versions might have compatibility issues with newer operating systems. You can quickly identify resource hogs by opening the task manager, selecting the programs taking up space, and clicking End Task.
#4. Adjust your power settings
Windows comes with several customizable power plans. The default one is balanced, which is designed to help maintain a high level of performance while preserving battery life. However, the only point in using the balanced profile is if you’re running a laptop on its battery or if you’re trying to keep your utility bills to a minimum. If neither option suits you, you can also modify an existing plan or create a new one. Regardless of which power plan you’re using, it’s always best to connect your computer to the main power source wherever possible.
#5. Clean up your computer
Most computers have a stock of unnecessary programs installed on them. New machines, particularly those sold to consumers, are often among the worst culprits, since they come full of trial programs, adware, and other so-called “bloatware.” While you must take care to avoid accidentally uninstalling important programs, regularly reviewing the Programs and Features section and removing unnecessary features is a good idea to conserve storage space and maximize performance. Similarly, you should also turn off unused Windows features.
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