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Windows 10 quick tips: 11 ways to speed up your PC

Want Windows 10 to run faster? Take a few minutes to try out these tips, and your machine will be zippier and less prone to performance and system issues.

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It's easy to turn them off. In the Windows 10 search box type sysdm.cpl and press Enter. That launches the System Properties dialog box. Click the Advanced tab and click "Settings" in the Performance section. That brings you to the Performance Options dialog box. You'll see a varied list of animations and special effects.

performance options

The Performance Options dialog box lets you turn off effects that might be slowing down Windows 10.

If you have time on your hands and love to tweak, you can turn individual ones on and off. These are the animations and special effects you'll probably want to turn off, because they have the greatest effect on system performance:

  • Animate controls and elements inside windows
  • Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing
  • Animations in the taskbar
  • Fade or slide menus into view
  • Fade or slide ToolTips into view
  • Fade out menu items after clicking
  • Show shadows under windows

However, it's probably a lot easier to just select "Adjust for best performance" at the top of the screen and then click OK. Windows 10 will then turn off the effects that slow down your system.

8. Launch the Windows troubleshooter

Windows 10 has a very useful, little-known tool that can sniff out performance problems and solve them. To launch it, run Control Panel and select System and Security > Security and Maintenance > Troubleshooting > Run maintenance tasks. A screen titled "Troubleshoot and help prevent computer problems" will appear. Click Next.

The troubleshooter will find files and shortcuts you don't use, identify any performance and other issues on your PC, report them to you and then fix them. Note that you may get a message that says, "Try troubleshooting as an administrator." If you have administrative rights to the PC, click it and the troubleshooter will launch and do its work.

troubleshooter

Windows 10's troubleshooter can perform maintenance and housecleaning tasks to help speed up your system.

9. Get help from the Performance Monitor

There's a great tool in Windows 10 called the Performance Monitor that can, among other things, create a detailed performance report about your PC, detail any system and performance issues, and suggest fixes.

To get the report, type perfmon /report into your search box and press Enter. (Make sure there's a space between "perfmon" and the slash mark.) The Resource and Performance Monitor launches and gathers information about your system. It will say that it will take 60 seconds, but I've found that it takes several minutes. When the Monitor finishes, it will launch an interactive report.

performance monitor

The Performance Monitor reports details on system and performance issues.

You'll find a lot of extremely detailed information in the report, and it can take a lot of time to go through. Your best bet is to first look at the Warnings section, which details the biggest issues (if any) it found on your PC, such as problems with Windows, with drivers and so on. It also tells you how to fix each problem -- for example, how to turn on a device that has been disabled.

It is also worthwhile to scroll down to the Resource Overview section, where you'll find an analysis of how well your CPU, network, disk and memory are performing. Each result is color-coded, with green meaning no problems, yellow meaning potential issues, and red showing a problem.

Beyond that, the Resource Overview also reports performance metrics and explanatory details. For example, for the CPU, it might show green and a utilization of 21%, with the details, "Normal CPU load." Or for Memory, it might show yellow, with 62% utilization and the details, "1520 MB is available." Based on what you get, you might want to do something about your hardware -- for example, add more memory.

10. Kill bloatware

Sometimes the biggest factor slowing down your PC isn't Windows 10 itself, but bloatware or adware that takes up CPU and system resources. Adware and bloatware are particularly insidious because they may have been installed by your computer's manufacturer. You'd be amazed at how much more quickly your Windows 10 PC can run if you get rid of it.

First, run a system scan to find adware and malware. If you've already installed a security suite such as Norton Security or McAfee LiveSafe, you can use that. You can also use Windows 10's built in anti-malware app -- just type Windows Defender in the search box, press Enter, and then click Scan Now. Windows Defender will look for malware and remove any it finds.

It's a good idea to get a second opinion, though, so consider a free tool like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. The free version scans for malware and removes what it finds; the paid version offers always-on protection to stop infections in the first place.

malwarebytes

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a useful application that will scan for and fix Windows 10 PC  problems.

Now you can check for bloatware and get rid of it. Several free programs will do this for you; your best bet is to run several of them, because no single one will find all the bloatware on your PC. Good choices are the PC Decrapifier, Should I Remove It? and SlimComputer.

For more details about removing bloatware, check out Computerworld's article "Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it."

11. Shut down and restart Windows

Here’s one of IT’s not-quite-secret weapons for troubleshooting and speeding up a PC: Shut it down and restart it. Doing that clears out any excess use of RAM that otherwise can’t be cleared. It also kills processes that you might have set in motion and are no longer needed, but that continue running and slow your system. If your Windows 10 PC has turned sluggish over time for no apparent reason, you may be surprised at how much more quickly it will run when you do this.

Try just some of these tricks, and you'll find that you've got a faster Windows 10 PC -- and one that is less likely to have any reliability problems.

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