How To Speed Up a Slow Windows PC or Laptop

Introduction:

No matter how much you spend on your computer, and no matter how well you look after it, performance will deteriorate over time.

Part of the equation is the fact that apps and software become “heavier” over time. Even simple apps like a Word processor or Web browser will gain more features, updates and functionalities over time.

Microsoft Word was initially released in 1983, and it’s easy to see why requirements look dramatically different today compared to back then. “Moore’s Law” estimates that roughly every 2 years, computer performance (or more specifically: the number of transistors on a microchip) will double.

The other part of the equation are the things you can fix! Before we get there, let me start with some best practices to follow, which will ensure you’re on a good foundation for the upcoming fixes I’ll be detailing below.

 

Best Practices

  1. Close unnecessary apps and tabs, only keep open the ones you actively need
  2. Bookmark the tabs & webpages you’ll need at a later date.
  3. Restart your computer often. Daily if possible (note: Shutdown, then Power On is not the same as a Restart anymore!)
  4. Ensure your computer’s fans are free of any dust or debris
  5. Ensure your computer has plenty of airflow & reasonable temperatures
  6. Ensure your apps, drivers and Operating System are up to date

 

What Slows Down My Computer & How Can I Fix it?

 

Disk Space

  1. Open File Explorer and navigate to “This PC”
  2. Check the capacity & free space of your C: drive

Typically when under 25% of disk space is free, performance is noticeably worse

Fixes

  1. Remove any other old/unused Users under C:\Users\
  2. Uninstall apps you don’t need
  3. Back up documents to cloud storage (e.g. OneDrive) and remove/unsync the local copy
  4. Run a free app like “WinDirStat” or “TreeSize” as Administrator. It will show you exactly where the largest folders sit

If you’re unsure whether or not to remove something, don’t remove it! Speak with your IT team or colleagues and determine whether it’s necessary or important.

 

Virus or Malware

If performance is way worse than normal, if your search engine suddenly looks different, if pop ups occur, or if task manager is showing very high usage stats with little or nothing open, chances are you might have malware/adware or something else malicious running on there.

Fixes

Escalating to your IT team is highly recommended if there’s any suspicion whatsoever. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Let us help you!

If you’re certain of virus or malware: ensure the computer is isolated from your company network and ask your IT team to wipe it ASAP.

  1. Run a Windows Defender scan, or scan using your preferred antivirus
  2. Download & Run ADWcleaner https://www.malwarebytes.com/adwcleaner to check for known malware or adware
  3. Run all available updates to patch any exploits or vulnerabilities

 

Updates Missing, Bugs, Memory Leaks

In any given week, updates for several of your apps/drivers/Operating System will release. These updates often contain security improvements, bug fixes and address performance issues. This means they’re a frequent fix for many different types of issues. Here’s the best way to ensure you’re up to date:

Fixes

  1. Open Settings > Windows update > Install all optionals, drivers, & regular updates. Restart the PC only when all updates say “Pending Restart”. Repeat this step until you see “You’re up to date”.
  2. Open Microsoft Store > Library > Get Updates / Update All
  3. (Vendor specific) Open HP Support Assistant / Lenovo Update / your hardware provider’s website or tool to install any missing updates

If Windows updates continuously fail, consider jumping right to the latest version with one of the following tools:

Windows 10 update tool: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows10

Windows 11 update tool: https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows11

 

High Uptime

High uptime is a sign your apps have been launched a long time without loading everything fresh. For many computers and apps you’ll get unpredictable issues, slowness and crashing if uptime is too high.

  1. Open Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc)
  2. (Hit “More details” if necessary) then choose Performance tab > CPU
  3. Check for Uptime near the bottom of the window – format is Days:Hours:Minutes:Seconds
  4. If it’s over 1 day of uptime, a reboot is recommended

Fixes

  • Initially, reboot your PC
  • Was your uptime a lot higher than expected? “Fast startup” might be preventing you from shutting down properly:
    • Search for “Power Options” in your Windows Start Menu
    • Choose “Additional Power Options”
    • Select “Choose what the power buttons do”
    • Select “Change settings which are currently unavailable”
    • Ensure “Turn on Fast Startup” is disabled (unticked)
    • Select “Save Changes”
  • Is your PC a remote desktop, or does it need to be switched on permanently?
    • Ask IT to set up a Scheduled task to reboot your computer weekly out of office hours
    • Or click “Restart” or “Restart and install updates” when you finish your workday, so everything is loaded fresh for the following morning

 

Unnecessary Apps & Background services

If you’ve installed a lot of software over the years, chances are, some of those apps are running in the background automatically and harming performance. If you’ve read the “Best Practices” section, you’ll know you should be running as few apps as possible.

Fixes

  1. Open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc)
  2. Go to Startup Tab
  3. Sort by Status
  4. Disable any unnecessary or unwanted apps

 

  1. Open the Windows Start Menu
  2. Enter “msconfig.exe” and press Enter
  3. Go to Services tab
  4. Tick the box “Hide All Microsoft Services”
  5. Untick any unnecessary services
  6. Choose “Apply”

Again, if in doubt – leave it as it is – and ask your IT team!

Typically, if the service or start-up item has “HP / Dell / Intel / AMD / Realtek / Lenovo” or another computer vendor’s name it’s probably related to some of your hardware. Disable at your own risk or consult with IT before adjusting these ones.

 

Final Steps

If you’ve got this far, you will have made a significant impact on most computers out there. The following fixes are less common, but should be considered nonetheless

 

Consider a Hardware Upgrade

  • If your computer is ~5 years old or more, you should soon consider replacing it if you still experience slowness
  • If your budget is tight, there may be ways you can upgrade your existing machine. Consult IT to see whether this is an option for you:
    • It’ll save you from buying incompatible parts
    • There may be room for extra RAM in your PC
    • If you have an “HDD” drive, replacing with an SSD can provide a massive (& cheap) performance boost

 

DISM & SFC

DISM or the “Deployment Image Servicing and Management” command line tool repairs and ensures the integrity of your Windows Component Store, which is a backup copy of your system files. It compares it to known-good copies stored on Windows Update servers.

SFC then repairs your system files by comparing it with the previously repaired Windows Component Store. Make sure you run these 4 steps in order:

  1. Open the Windows Start Menu
  2. Enter “CMD” and right click “Command Prompt”, choose “Run as Administrator”
  3. Enter the following command and press enter. Allow the command to reach 100% and complete before proceeding

dism.exe /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

4. Enter the following command and press enter. Allow the command to reach 100% and complete.

sfc /scannow

 

Consider Reinstalling Windows

  1. Save your important files online somewhere, such as OneDrive. Ensure the upload is complete.
  2. Go To Settings > Update and Security > Recovery > Reset this PC
  3. Follow the next prompts to completely reinstall your machine

 

No matter what your IT concerns or issues are, Jolly are here to help and advise you every step of the way. Give us a call or email!

helpdesk@jollyit.co.uk or 0330 460 9495