How Can I Speed Up my Computer? 10 Ways to Improve Performance

There is little more frustrating in the modern world than a computer that is ‘running slow’. It can prevent data from being saved, emails being sent, can make collaborative working difficult, and generally frustrates members of staff who are struggling to complete basic tasks.

In this guide, managed IT support services experts CIS offers guidance on how you can improve your PC speed and performance. Increased PC performance can improve productivity, workflow, and output, saving frustrating setbacks to your working day. Read on for 10 tips on how to speed up your computer.

How important is PC Performance? 

The Central Processing Unit (CPU) of a PC enables the PC to work. The CPU manages the instructions and demands that allow you to get your work done, saves your files and carries out important day to day tasks. The PC speed determines how quickly the Central Processing Unit (CPU) can process instructions – these are the simple tasks you carry out on your PC; hitting return, typing or sorting on a database. 

If the CPU can’t carry out these demands in a specified period of time, it can result in error messages, or the PC crashing; all of which is not aided by the users’ frustration at the delay causing them to repeat the demand again and again which just backs up the CPU further.

This is something we have all experienced at some point. Generally speaking, the older the machine, the more processing power it requires to run updates for software or to process the software’s basic functionality.

But if you have a slow PC it is not just frustrating it can actually be detrimental for your business. It can result in: 

  • Poor productivity. 
  • Lost man-hours.
  • Lost data.

Such lost time mounts up – from waiting for the PC to load, to IT support calls and the time taken and money spent to ‘fix’ the problem. A study carried out by SanDisk showed that in the UK a PC user in one year can spend more than 130 hours waiting for their PC to load which when considered at an hourly rate could be a substantial loss for your business. 

Sometimes hardware is simply too old to be fit for purpose in a modern business environment and there is little choice but to replace the PC, but before doing that there are numerous things you can do yourself to improve computer speed and squeeze a few more years out of your machine.

How to improve PC Performance

Shut down your PC properly

It’s a common joke about IT professionals that their mantra is “have you tried turning it on and off again?” Whilst amusing, there is a reason why it’s important to shut your PC down properly, and with laptops to shut them down fully at least once a week. When a PC is left running, even if the software is closed there are always processes running in the background which can slow your machine down. By turning your PC off, those processes are also shut down, until you open the software again. Rebooting frees up RAM used by these background processes and can therefore make your machine work faster. Additionally, by powering your PC down every night you are actually extending its life span. All computer parts have a limited lifespan, for example, the LED screen will only last for about 15,000 hours and a battery will take about 300 charges. When the PC is left on it is generating heat meaning the fan is working even if you are not and the heat itself can wear down certain elements within the system. 

Remove the Power Saver plan

The majority of PCs are set by default to Balanced power mode, and you may feel that with Windows 10, if you activate the Power Saver Plan, you are doing your bit for the environment. However, the Power Saver Plan actually reduces the performance of the PC to save power – therefore slowing your machine down. To speed up the processor it is preferable to change the setting to High Performance or Balanced instead. The Balanced plan, on the other hand, increases the speed of the CPU as and when necessary. The High-Performance plan increases the speed all the time even when it isn’t being used.

Disable programs to run on start up

A number of programs are pre-configured to run on start-up and will be running in the background. However, unless you are going to use it straight away it is best to disable programs which run on start-up. By having a number of programs automatically launch when you turn your PC on will dramatically slow down the system. Depending on which programs you disabled and the age of your machine you should see a marked difference in PC performance speed. Windows 10 has the additional feature of relaunching apps used on a previous session on start up. Although it is designed to be more convenient for the user it has the side effect of slowing down your PC. Therefore, it is advisable to disable this feature as well. Windows 10 also has a number of apps working in the background even if you are not using them which can affect the performance of your PC. This entire feature can be disabled which could improve the performance. 

Upgrade your RAM

While businesses using Windows 10 may not have Random Access Memory (RAM) issues as it uses less RAM than previous editions, it is possible to increase the RAM on a PC and therefore improve computer speed. RAM is the memory on the machine and as it reaches capacity your PC will slow down, and some tasks may no longer be possible. Installing extra RAM to a desktop PC is relatively straightforward and would take an IT professional less than an hour to do so. It is trickier to add RAM to a laptop, but not impossible. But doing so would improve your PC performance. The faster the RAM the faster the CPU speed and therefore your PC will be much more efficient.

Clear history

Essentially your history stores a number of temporary files, cookies, and caches which all take up space on your hard disk but don’t actually offer a great deal of value. They can, however, slow your PC down. Running the Windows disk cleaner or the Mac CCleaner will remove a number of these files. It is also possible to clear your registry which may also have residual files from deleted applications. To do this will require another tool such as Avast Cleanup or Norton Utilities 2020 but can be set to run automatically and will help speed up your PC.

How to improve PC Speed

Disk clean up

All PCs have an automatic tool for disk clean-up, and de-activating it at least once a month is a good habit to get into. Once a hard drive is 70% full, it will start to affect the PC performance and you are likely to notice that saving files takes longer and completing other tasks is sluggish. This tool will remove all unnecessary files from the hard disk including temporary files, old versions of Windows as well as emptying the recycle bin and removing thumbnails. If this isn’t done regularly it can slow your PC down substantially. In addition to a disk clean-up it is also advisable to schedule a disk defragmentation if you are using an HDD drive (there is little benefit to an SSD) which will clean up your hard disk and inform you of how much disk space you have left. The defragmentation tool essentially reorganises your files so it doesn’t spend so long looking for them next time and therefore means you can see quicker response times to task demands.

Upgrade to an SSD Drive

A Solid State Drive (SSD) will make everything faster on your laptop from booting up to shutting down and there will be no more waiting for apps to open. This is an inexpensive hardware upgrade which will give your PC a new lease of life. Upgrading to SSD is particularly effective if you use a lot of programs at once or are using photographic software which takes a lot of processing power.

Restore previous working state

If you are installing updates regularly (as you should be), new drivers, or new apps you may find a reduction in your PC performance speed. By restoring a previous work state (like a back up of when the PC was working well) you can undo recent changes that have slowed down your PC. Your PC should then return to a time when it was working at optimal capacity.

Uninstall unwanted software

When buying a new PC, it will come pre-loaded with numerous apps which you are unlikely to use. However, they still take up valuable disk space and therefore contribute to your machine slowing down. By removing these pre-loaded apps as well as old and unused programs and apps you will be freeing up a lot of disk space, which will speed up your PC. You should also consider when downloading new apps that they are good quality and don’t come with a number of add ons and toolbars. Be aware of what you are downloading to ensure you maintain good PC performance.

Scan for any viruses

This should be something that you do regularly as a matter of course in order to keep your PCs safe from potential viruses, malware, and ransomware but it can also be useful to try this if your PC is running particularly slowly. In addition, malware clean-up software is particularly effective at dealing with pop-ups and speed issues. There is a myth that running anti-virus software can actually slow down your PC by as much as 50% but this is no longer a factor. If you find that your anti-virus software has slowed down your PC is could be due to the memory being full, meaning there isn’t enough room for the anti-virus processes to run effectively. However, should your machine be infected with malware, adware, spyware, or other viruses it can use a lot of PC resources resulting in diminished memory, hard drive function, and processor performance.

If you have tried all of these tips to speed up PC performance and it is still slow and sluggish give the team at CIS a call and we can discuss how to improve your business PCs and ultimately improve your working day. We can start with a system audit to identify the problem and then device an ideal solution.


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