How to Fix Your Slow PC: 16 Expert Tips to Speed Things Up

If you’ve wanted to learn how to clean up your computer to run faster, this article is your new guide.
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Everything you do on your PC is competing for its limited resources. Over time, the accumulated files and active apps will slow it down to a crawl. So, what can you do to speed up your PC?

Simply restarting your computer or cleaning its housing will solve a lot of your issues. You can also delete old files, turn off unused apps, and use good anti-malware software. Check our top 16 beginner-friendly tips to learn how to clean your computer and make it run faster.

In this article
Clean the inside of your PC
Keep your software up-to-date
Uninstall unused programs and bloatware
Use cloud storage or an external hard drive
Disable unnecessary startup programs
Optimize your browser
Perform regular security checks
Use a good PC optimization tool
Run defragmentation and Disk Cleanup
Turn off unnecessary visual effects
Adjust power settings
Upgrade your RAM
Switch to a solid-state drive (SSD)
Overclock your PC
Reinstall Windows
Warning signs you need to optimize your PC
FAQs for how to speed up your PC
Bottom line

Restart your PC regularly

Leaving your PC in sleep mode can feel like you’re saving time. However, it doesn't cancel any running processes or clear the RAM. If you never restart your PC, you can experience lag, system instability, and crashes.

Here are other reasons you should restart your PC regularly:

  • Increases application loading speeds
  • Stabilizes network connection
  • Keeps your device safe by installing security patches
  • May resolve peripheral and hardware problems
  • Gets rid of temporary files

We also recommend shutting down your Windows PC at least once a week. It allows it to cool down and clears the memory. You'll also save a bit on the power bill each month. If you never shut down your device, it’s similar to humans never getting sleep. It simply won’t function as well.

Clean the inside of your PC

Sometimes, boosting your Windows PC is as simple as cleaning it. Dust can overheat your hardware and impact your computer’s speed. It can also cause short circuits and even start a fire. The most common warning signs include overheating and loud fan noises.

We don’t recommend using blow dryers or vacuum cleaners. They don’t have enough power or reach to get all the dust out of your PC. They can also cause static electricity, which will damage your computer's components.

Here’s the safest way to clean the inside of the PC:

  1. Power it off and unplug it.
  2. Dust the outside of the housing with a clean, dry cloth.
  3. Remove the side panels to get to the interior.
  4. Use compressed air to remove dust from filters, fans, and vents.
  5. Place the panels back on the PC.

Keep your software up-to-date

You should always get the latest software updates. They bring new features, improvements, and bug fixes. Updating your drivers and operating system (OS) also ensures better performance and security.

Checking to see if your software is up to date is easy:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Locate the Windows Update section.
  3. Select Check for updates.
  4. Here, you’ll see if your software needs updating.

Some antivirus programs, like Avast, will look for needed updates automatically. This can be a great time saver for you in the long run.

Uninstall unused programs and bloatware

One way to improve your PC speed is to uninstall unused programs and bloatware. Some apps are always working in the background and can cause your system to slow down. If you haven’t used something in ages, you should remove it to save space and resources.

Bloatware is an umbrella term for unwanted apps. The most common ones are low-value programs pre-installed on your device, such as games, toolbars, and weather apps.

However, they can also accompany downloads you actually want (bundleware). For example, you might install an antivirus program that comes bundled with a hard-to-remove toolbar. Sometimes, you won't even know there's an additional drain on your system.

Although it’s not always a security issue, you should remove bloatware to create more space on your device and speed up your PC. Here’s how to quickly get bloatware off your computer:

  1. Go to Start.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Click Apps.
  4. Go to Apps and Features.
  5. Select the app to remove and click Uninstall.

Screenshot of bloatware.

Use cloud storage or an external hard drive

You can take the burden off your hard drive by using cloud storage or an external hard disk. Google Drive syncing can also cause lag, so we recommend turning it off.

Some antivirus programs include cloud storage. Norton, for example, has this feature with all plans, ranging from 2 GB to 50 GB. There are numerous features for better privacy and performance, depending on the Norton subscription you choose.

Disable unnecessary startup programs

Some programs are configured to start when you power on your PC. When you have multiple applications opening at the same time, it puts a strain on your system’s performance. Your PC will slow down and may frequently freeze.

You may allow some programs to continue to load automatically for convenience. Disable the ones you don’t need to improve device performance by following these easy steps:

  1. Go to your Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Escape.
  2. Click the Startup tab.
  3. Right-click the apps you want to disable.

Screenshot of task manager.

Optimize your browser

Browsers like Chrome can hog your system resources. Running a lot of extensions can also tax your memory and cause lag. We recommend keeping the most useful add-ons and removing everything else.

The more tabs you keep open, the more your computer's performance will suffer. Limiting idle pages will avoid web browser congestion and speed up your PC. Microsoft Edge puts the tabs you’re not using to sleep, which boosts the performance of your web browser.

Here’s how to check if your web browser is using a lot of RAM:

  1. Open the Task Manager.
  2. Go to the Processes tab.
  3. Inspect the Memory column.
  4. See how your RAM is being used.

If you see a large memory spike, consider deleting some browser extensions and keeping fewer tabs open. You can also run a malware scan and get rid of viruses. Malware can occupy huge amounts of system resources.

Perform regular security checks

As mentioned, malware like viruses, spyware, or adware can be system hogs. You can usually recognize them by a sudden change in your PC performance.

Adware simply throws ads on your screen, which sounds harmless enough. However, it can also hijack your browser, slow down your PC, and install spyware or viruses. We recommend removing adware as soon as possible, no matter how innocuous it may appear.

Some of the best antivirus programs include Bitdefender and McAfee. Use these tools to perform regular security checks and keep your computer malware-free.

Use a good PC optimization tool

Using an antivirus program with optimization tools can save you a lot of time. We recommend TotalAV. Their software comes with many useful features, including:

  • System tune-up tools
  • Disk cleaner
  • Browser manager and cleaner

In other words, TotalAV can free up space by deleting unnecessary files, junk, duplicates, temporary internet files, and even unused apps. It can also optimize your browser by cleaning cookies and search history. It even empties your Recycle Bin for good measure.

Screenshot of TotalAV disk usage results.

Run defragmentation and Disk Cleanup

Over time, parts of files become scattered throughout your hard drive. It will take your PC longer to open a file when this happens. Defragmentation groups the scattered pieces in one place, making the file easier to access. You won’t need to run a defrag if you’re using a solid state drive (SSD).

Using the Disk Cleanup option will remove temporary files from your device. These can cause memory issues and slow down your computer. If you need to free up space, try running a Disk Cleanup to eliminate files you don’t need. To use the Disk Cleanup option, follow these steps:

  1. Type disk cleanup in your search bar.
  2. Select the drive to clean and click OK.
  3. Under Files to delete, choose the ones to remove.
  4. Click OK.

Screenshot of disk cleanup.

Turn off unnecessary visual effects

Visual effects may look appealing, but embellishments like animations can tax your computer’s performance. If you’re trying to save resources, one surefire way is to turn off unnecessary visual effects.

If you're an advanced user, you can adjust the performance options to your liking. Most people will want to configure the visuals for best performance. Here’s how to do it:

  1. In the search box or taskbar, type performance. Go to Adjust the Appearance and Performance of Windows.
  2. Choose Adjust for best performance in the Visual Effects tab, then click Apply.
  3. Restart your PC.

Screenshot of performance options.

Adjust power settings

Power Options is a feature that controls power management on your PC. The option allows you to customize how the device conserves and uses power. You can change the settings for optimized performance or, when needed, adjust them to save energy.

PCs have three preset profiles to choose from:

  • Balanced: Best suited for low-intensity actions on your PC. It's a default option on many laptops.
  • High Performance: This plan will use more power but offer the best performance. We recommend switching to this mode to speed up your PC.
  • Power Saver: We never use this profile, but you could activate it in a pinch if your laptop battery is running low.

You can also tinker with different settings and create a fully customized power plan. There's plenty of room to optimize each premade profile and get more out of your slow computer. You can access Power Options by right-clicking Start > Power Options > Additional Power Settings.

Screenshot of power options.

Upgrade your RAM

RAM allows your device to run multiple tasks at one time. If your PC is running slow, try upgrading your RAM. You’ll notice the computer becomes faster, as you have more resources to support active programs.

If you want to see how much RAM your PC is using, you can go to the About your PC feature to find out. The following steps will show you how to check your RAM.

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Type about your PC.
  3. In Device Specifications, your RAM will be displayed next to Installed RAM.

Depending on your version of Windows, you’ll have minimum memory requirements. For instance, with Windows 11, the minimum RAM is 4 GB. For Windows 10, the requirement is only 1 GB.

Switch to a solid-state drive (SSD)

Investing in a solid-state drive will boost the overall speed of your PC. They’re faster, produce less heat, consume less power, and are more shock absorbent.

Keep in mind that you may pay more for this convenience and durability. SSDs are typically more expensive than traditional hard drives. You can expect to pay twice what you’d shell out for an internal hard drive.

Hard drives, on the other hand, offer much more space on a budget. So it all comes down to your specific needs.

Overclock your PC

Overclocking is another way to boost PC performance. This will increase the clock rate in the central processing unit (CPU). Making the clock rate faster will allow for a faster PC speed. Some users want their computers to be more powerful than the factory settings allow, so they use overclocking to help.

We only advise overclocking if you’re an advanced PC user. Even when performed perfectly, overclocking can cause stability issues and overheating. Melting your CPU is unlikely, though, due to built-in safety measures. You shouldn’t overclock laptops since it’s harder for them to maintain stable temperatures.

Unless you know how to use a Google system stress test and can fly through your system BIOS settings like a pro, you shouldn’t overclock your PC without help. Otherwise, you may be in the market for a new PC faster than you’d like!

Reinstall Windows

If none of our tips have worked, one way to speed up your device is to uninstall and reinstall Windows. It’s like a fresh start for your computer system.

Before you reinstall Windows, you should back up your files. A fresh OS will delete everything on its partition, so you should prepare for that. You can do this quickly with Windows Backup. You’ll need a Microsoft account to do this, as it comes with OneDrive cloud storage.

  1. Go to the Start menu.
  2. Type windows backup, then select Windows Backup from the options.
  3. Select Folders and choose the folders you want to back up.

Screenshot of Windows Backup.

Warning signs you need to optimize your PC

You’ll notice if your PC needs optimizing. Your computer will show signs like application crashes, the spinning wheel that pops up when your PC freezes, slow performance, and fan noises when your device overheats.

FAQs for how to speed up your PC


How can I speed up my PC for free?

If you want to speed up your PC without spending any money, we suggest trying things like regularly restarting your device, closing out unneeded tabs, and utilizing cloud storage. You may also want to disable cookies to make more room on your computer.


Why is my PC running slowly?

Your PC may run slow for many reasons. It could be that you need more RAM or something as simple as not restarting your device often enough. You can run a defragmentation and disk cleanup to make some space and see if it improves system performance. If you’re using an antivirus, check to make sure it’s not causing any performance issues.


How do I clean my PC to run faster?

Your PC collects dust and debris, which can also cause the internal unit to get dirty. To keep your PC clean, use a soft, dry cloth to clean the unit and try compressed air to spray the inside areas you cannot reach.

Bottom line

When your PC begins to slow down, there are many strategies you can try to remedy the problem. Some are more in-depth and should be considered by advanced users only. Other options are simple and effective for everyone.

Having a slow PC can be frustrating, but you don’t have to run out and purchase the newest model. Try to implement simple techniques like restarting regularly and using the best antivirus software for keeping malware off your device. With the tips in this guide, your PC speed will increase, and you’ll have a device that runs like new.

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Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer specializing in technology, with three years of experience. With a B.S. in Computer Science and a background as a technical analyst and security specialist, she covers a range of topics like data security and parental control software.