Windows seems to be so sluggish. How do I make it fast like it was when I first bought it? Is it possible to make it faster than when I first got it?
There are several things you can do to make your computer run like new, perhaps even faster. Remove bloatware to prevent unnecessary programs from running in the background, and install utilities that will clean up and maintain your computer. Top it off by installing more RAM and an SSD drive.
In this article I am going to show you 6 ways in which you can speed up your computer to make it much faster than it currently runs, which in turn, will probably extend the life of your computer, perhaps for a couple of more years. The software solutions are easy to implement, and the hardware solutions are not that difficult either.
Let’s get underway and get your computer back to running in tip-top shape.
Remove or Disable Applications from Running in the Background
The first thing you can do to speed up your computer is to disable any nonessential software application that launch is upon booting up your computer. There are really only two types of applications that should be running in the background on your computer. The first is an antivirus software program, and the second is anti-malware software. All other non-Windows applications really have no business running in the background without your express consent.
The Arrogance of Software Developers
One of my biggest pet peeves is when a software developer forces their program to automatically launch every time the computer starts, so that it runs in the background, which takes up valuable resources.
Now consider for a moment, if every software company did this. Naturally, your computer would run slow . . . v-e-r-y s-l-o-w. Why do companies do this? Because they want you to think that their software is much faster than it really is.
If system resources are already dedicated to running a given program in the background, those system resources can not be utilized on other programs that you run. In other words, one of the biggest reasons why it takes forever for your applications to launch, is because other programs (that you probably are not even using), are already running in the background.
This is why applications ask you to reboot your computer after installing their software. Again, any Windows program that asks you to reboot your computer after having installed their application, only want you to reboot so that their software will run in the background after rebooting your computer.
Some of the biggest offenders are listed below:
- BitTorrent Sync (or any other torrent program)
- Google Chrome
Of course, there are dozens of programs that can have a high impact on the performance of your computer, and every user uses the computer differently. For example, you may not use DropBox, while others might, but you may use Skype while others do not.
The point is that EVERY one of these “Startup” programs do not need to be running in the background unless they are programs that are specifically designed to run in the background to protect your computer from viruses or malware. Everything else is simply sucking the life out of your system resources, causing your computer to run slower than it needs to.
There are several software utilities that will easily let you manage the start-up programs that are running in the background every time you launch Windows, but there is a free easy way to manage these startup applications by simply utilizing an application that is already built into Windows. It is called Task Manager. If you follow the instructions listed below, you will be able to view and disable Startup programs as necessary.
To begin, click on the START button and type Task Manager and hit the ENTER key. This will bring up the Task Manager utility. When you click on the STARTUP tab, you will see all of the programs that start up when you boot up Windows.
To disable any of these applications, simply select the application in question, and then click the DISABLE button at the bottom right of the Task Manager utility. That’s all there is to it. Now reboot your computer and these programs will not run in the background taking up valuable system resources.
Why is it the computer manufacturers think that they know how you use your computer? Why do they think that they know better than you do? How can I make such a claim? Because computer manufacturers add there a proprietary software onto the computer that you purchased. Most often, they disguise their bloatware in the name of “Support”, or “a better way to assist our customers”, but in reality, the “support software“ is really an advertisement to purchase other products that they, or their business partners offer.
For example, HP is notorious for this practice. They install printer software on your computer for you, (even though you don’t even on an HP printer). HP and other manufacturers will bundle software solutions that run In the background every time you turn the computer on. I for one, find this incredibly frustrating, and I’m sure you do too. In fact, let’s address that very issue right now.
To see a list of all of the software applications that are running on your computer right now, simply click on the START button, then click SETTINGS > PROGRAMS AND FEATURES. You will then be presented with a list of all of the applications that are found on your computer. It is my recommendation that you uninstall any and all bloatware from your computer, as this will free up disk space, and potentially (probably), also remove some programs starting up when booting up your computer.
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Software Utilities That Will Speed Up Your Computer
As I have already mentioned, there are numerous software utilities that you can install on your computer to help maintain your computer. These software utilities can be categorized into two groups:
- Software Utilities that will protect your computer.
- Software utilities that will maintain the health of your computer.
Before moving on, it can not be over emphasized just how important brand recognition is when it comes to software utilities. So important is brand recognition, that con-artists will mimic everything a legitimate software vendor offers, including the name of the product, to the look and feel of the legitimate website. These con artists will even go so far as to create a website, changing the spelling of the domain real domain by one character in the hope of getting you to visit their website instead of the real software vendor.
Many times, you will find that suffer utilities will either do one thing excellent, or you will find a suite of utilities that work in concert with each other for the overall health of the computer in question. One thing you do not want to do is to install more than one software utility suite on your computer. The reason for this is that one suite will inevitably have conflicts with the other software suite. The same also applies for individual software solutions. For example, you do not want to install two different antivirus programs on your computer. Choose one of high repute and stick with it.
Below, are a few of my favorite software solutions that I would recommend that you run on your PC.
cCleaner originally was called, “Crap Cleaner” because he cleaned all the crap out of your computer. As the product matured, so did the name, which is now why it is simply called cCleaner. cCleaner has been downloaded millions of times and trusted by millions of users over the years. It is one of those utilities that I install and every PC that I use because it is light weight and does a really good job at what it sets out to do. With cCleaner, you have the ability to back up your computer before it removes any clutter that it finds. You also have the ability to tell her where you do not want to clean and where you do want to clean. Frankly, I trust this software and I delete whatever clutter it finds without questioning its integrity. To date, it has never let me down since it first came out in 2004, and that says a lot.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
The term, “malware” is short for “malicious software,” which describes any malicious program or code that is harmful to your computer.
The Malwarebytes website describes malware as bing “hostile, intrusive, and intentionally nasty”. It “seeks to invade, damage, or disable computers, computer systems, networks. . . . by taking partial control over a device’s operations.” Basically, like the Coronavirus, it interferes with your every day life.
Malwarebytes is by far the most popular software utility on the market right now that will find and remove malware from your computer. They offer a completely free version, (which is fantastic), and a paid version for $39.99, which comes with its own antivirus software as well.
AntiVirus Software Solutions
There are many antivirus solutions available. Some of the following are worthy of note, but understand that these are not listed in any particular order. When it comes to Antivirus programs, (or utilities for that matter), recommending one brand over another can be cause for a fight. 🙂 Each of the following have a good reputation, and each has their strengths and weaknesses, but you’ll need to decide which one is a right fit for you and your needs. Again, these are not listed in any particular order.
- Windows Defender
- Avast Free Antivirus
- AVG AntiVirus FREE
- Avira Free Antivirus
- Norton AntiVirus
- Panda Free Antivirus
Keep in mind that when finding an antivirus program, you are really looking for 3 things. First, you want to make sure that they will aggressively hunt for viruses or potential viruses. Second, you want to make sure that it is very lightweight, meaning that it does not take a lot of system resources to run, and does so unobtrusively.
Software Utility Suites
I must admit, I am guilty of trying to find the best overall utility suite (and I have for years), ever since I got bit by the “Norton Utilities for Windows 95” bug back in 1995. I was impressed with the eye candy, and continued to be with every new utility suite that I tried over the years. Below are a couple that I have personally tried in recent years:,
I don’t use Windows Software Utility Suites anymore, primarily because there are many very lightweight software utilities that have one mission and execute their intended focus exceptionally well. A suite of utilities has to do everything perfect, and that does not happen very often, and if they do, you will be charged an annual subscription fee, ranging anywhere from $39 to $99 a year.
Are there other software utilities out there? Absolutely. There are thousands of them if not tens of thousands of them. Just be certain that you need the utility before you install it, otherwise it’s just sucking resources from your computer.
Where Can I Download Software Utilities from Reputable Websites?
Reputation is everything. I could talk about software all day long, but you can’t just download software utilities from anywhere. You want to download them from a reputable website. You might even be tempted to download a specific software utility from their website, but how do you know the name of their website is the real website and not some wanna-be scam site?
So how do you tell if a utility is reputable or not? Visit a reputable website and read the reviews. Below are 5 reputable websites that you can visit to download software from. The first two sites listed below have what you need, but are not my first choice . . . anymore. The remaining three sites are better places to get your software titles from, and in a minute, you’ll see why.
Softpedia is a very popular site where you can download software for a variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and software that is specifically designed for web browsers. The one great thing about this website is that they offer phenomenal reviews, comparing software (and services), against one another.
The downside of using Softpedia.com is that they make it VERY difficult to actually download the file you are trying to download. They have green “Download” buttons in multiple places where you think you should click, only to be presented with download managers that you have to pay for in order to download the software in question. To their credit, there is a way to download the software you want to download without paying for one of these “download managers”, but finding the link is not obvious, and I find this very frustrating. For this reason, I personally do not use Softpedia to download software unless I can’t find it anywhere else.
FileHippo has been my “Go To” for several years. They categorize their software and let you know what the most popular software downloads are. Additionally, they check for the latest version of for every software title every 2 minutes, which will ensure that you will be downloading the latest version of the software title in question. However, as of late, they are making it increasingly difficult to navigate through their pop-up ads, and also make it difficult to know exactly which green “Download” button is the correct download button. This is a major turn-off for me. It’s not as bad as Softpedia, but very close.
MajorGeeks.com has been around for the last 20 years, and their website looks like it, but don’t let that outdated site fool you. In fact, that is a bit of the allure of their site. The design of their website is almost a badge of honor in that it speaks to how well versed these “Geeks” are, and how long they have been around. These guys actually test the software before recommending it. The one thing that I love about this site is that they do not bundle the software title you are looking for in a “custom installers” (with bloatware, of course), or subtlety try to trick you into downloading or installing software that you did not ask for.
Ninite takes a very different approach to downloading and installing software. Instead of going to 10 different websites to download 10 different software titles, with Ninite, you simply download their small software package. After launching it, you select the software programs that you want to install from within Ninite, and it will download the software titles that you have selected and install them for you automatically. It does all of this without installing any other software. That means, no bloatware, shareware, or freeware, and no ads to navigate around in order to install the software. On top of that, it installs the very latest version of that software title for you. This is the perfect solution for those who have several software titles that they want to install all at once. For example, when you first get a brand new computer or build a brand new PC.
Snapfiles has two great strengths. The first is that they make it very easy to download what you are looking for without bundling it with any bloatware, so you only download and install what you intended. The other great thing about Snapfiles is that they do a great job at helping you decide which is the best software solution for you. They do this by categorizing software into the “Top 100”, and then rate software titles by user reviews. Snapfiles does have ads on their site, but you know that by clicking on the BLUE Download button on the left site at the top, is THE download link. I love the consistency, and I’m confident that you will enjoy getting your software titles from here as well.
Kids Installing Games (and the Kitchen Sink)
Computers that are used by some or all family members are notorious playgrounds for kids to install and play games on. If your children are installing (or downloading and installing), software on your computer, there are a few potential problems that you almost certainly will encounter. You would be wise to take ownership of maintaining the computer in question so that it can continue to run optimally.
Kids may install games that require several gigabytes of disk space and a lot of system resources to run. Additionally, all too often, parts of these games run every time you reboot the computer, running in the background, so that they will launch faster IF you choose to play the game.
Because kid’s also have a short attention span, you may find that a game that they installed months ago (one that they have long since forgotten about, is still running in the background taking valuable system resources.
One of the biggest problems with kids having free reign over installing software, is that they don’t read the fine print, and they almost certainly are unaware of what other software they may be installing that is “bundled” with the game in question. That “other software” could potentially be dangerous to the privacy and integrity of the information on that computer as well.
Upgrading the RAM in Your Computer is a Good Start
RAM stands for Random-access memory, and it’s purpose is to store data short term that can be quickly accessed. In theory, the more you have, the more data can be stored for quick access. However, there are diminishing returns the more you have. For example, you will see a noticeable difference between 4GB of RAM and 8GB of RAM. You will also see a noticeable difference between 8GB of RAM and 16GB of RAM, but it won’t be as noticeable as the jump from 4GB to 8GB. Likewise, if you upgrade the RAM in your computer from 16 GB to 32GB, you won’t see near the difference in speed as you did when jumping from 8GB to 16GB of RAM. In other words, simply jumping from 16GB to 32GB of RAM will not give you the same thrill as jumping from 8GB to 16GB did.
As things sit today, 16GB of RAM provides a lot of power now, and well into the future, so if you are considering adding RAM to your PC, it’s a good choice, but there is an even better hardware option. Upgrade your hard drive from a mechanical hard drive in your old computer to an SSD drive.
Replacing Your Mechanical Hard Drive with an SSD is a Win-Win
Mechanical hard drives have bene with us since the home PC became a thing back in the late 1980’s. In recent years, the SSD drive has become the norm when purchasing a new computer. But can one squeeze life out of an older computer by installing an SSD drive into it? Absolutely.
It used to be that it took well over a minute (maybe a minute and a half?), to boot up Windows. After having installed an SSD drive, you can boot up Windows in about 20 seconds. Today, that is normal, but not normal for a computer that was purchased 5 years ago. By simply replacing the mechanical hard drive in your old computer with an SSD hard drive, in effect your old computer becomes new. You can pick up a Samsung SSD 860 EVO 250GB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD on Amazon.com for only $69.99. Or, you could get a Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD 250GB – M.2 NVMe Interface Internal Solid State Drive with V-NAND Technology for $79.99 on Amazon.com. Because the prices have dropped dramatically, it may be wiser to simply replace your hard drive with an SSD drive which will not only make your computer faster, but it will breathe at least a couple of years of life into your computer.
Whether you are looking to breathe life into an older computer, or to ensure that your new computer continues to run in tip-top shape, you should run utilities that will protect your computer from viruses and malware, and other utilities that maintain the health of your computer. Choosing a lightweight utility that does its job without interruption makes for a great experience.
Adding RAM to your computer is a time-tested solid upgrade option, but an even better hardware upgrade would be to replace your mechanical hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD), so that your computer will boot up faster and your applications will respond with intent.
Tim ChesonisTim has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Tim, click here.
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