Monday, August 31, 2015

35 ways how to speedup your PC

After a while, every PC starts to show its age. Programs that used to be lightning fast suddenly start to go slow. Tasks that used to take five minutes now take 10. Using your computer for anything in fact starts to feel like a chore. In short, a once-lovely machine becomes a liability, dragging your productivity through the dirt and wasting your precious time.

Fortunately, there’s always a way to speed up a PC, whether it’s a 7-year-old clunker or last year’s model that’s just starting to slow. Hell, you can even wring some extra performance out of a brand new PC, if you know what to do. In this article, we’re going to share a whopping 36 ways to get more horsepower out of any PC, covering hardware, software, and operating system tweaks. Best of all, each one of them is completely free. Everyone who’s ever said there’s no such thing as a free lunch is wrong—you can reclaim lost speed without ever spending a cent. Why not start right now?

Sort Out your Software

Transform your PC into a steroid-stacked sprinter by fine tuning your OS and other software

Although a computer is a machine, the most common sources of slowdown are anything but mechanical. Instead, it’s the operating system and software that cause most of the problems that can turn a new computer into a plodding soul-destroying mess. And it’s those same two layers where most of the easiest performance gains are to be found.

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On the following lines, we’re going to look at fixes for common software speedbumps, as well as Windows tweaks that will get your computer running faster than ever before.


The operating system you’re using is the foundation of your computer, which means that even the fastest software will limp slowly if the operating system it runs on is sluggish and simply not up to the task. Accordingly, the first place you should always look for speed-boosting tweaks is within Windows itself.


If your computer seems like it’s going slower than it should, check the Power Options menu in the Hardware and Sound section of the Control Panel and make sure you have the "High Performance" setting selected. On a laptop, Windows will sacrifice performance in the name of increased battery life, by putting components like hard drives to sleep faster, or even capping the maximum output of the CPU. For fine-grained control over your PC’s power settings, click the “Change plan settings” link next to the power plan you’ve selected, then click “Change advanced settings.


First introduced in Windows Vista, Aero is the name for the set of interface eye candy that includes transparent UI elements and animated window transitions. It makes post-XP Windows look slicker and more modern, but it can also have a surprising effect on system performance. In particular, older systems without discrete graphics hardware can get a substantial performance boost by disabling Aero in the Appearance section of the Control Panel. Yes, you’ll miss out on a bit of graphical flair, but the actual functioning of Windows will be completely unaffected.


Nothing will bring your computer grinding to a halt faster than a program that’s monopolizing your processor. Even if your PC isn’t actually locked up, other software you try and use will be miserably laggy. When the resource-hogging program in question is something you actually need to let finish, it can leave you with no good option—you either don’t let the program finish, or you give up on doing anything else until it’s done. Fortunately, Windows has an easy way to manually set processor priority. Just open the Task Manager, click over to the "Processes" or "Details" tab, then right-click on the offending program, and set the priority to "Low." Now Windows will know to allocate resources to other programs first, and your original program will still be able to complete without a fuss.


Speaking of the Task Manager, you should know there’s a more powerful version of that tool built right into Windows 7, 8, and Vista. Just open the Task Manager, then click on the "Performance" tab. Towards the bottom of that menu, you’ll see a button to open the Resource Monitor. The Resource Monitor is an exceptional tool for finding the programs that are slowing down your PC, with very detailed usage charts for CPU, memory, hard disk space, and even network bandwidth that they’re taking up.


A major sign of a computer in need of maintenance is a slow boot time. If your computer takes forever to get started, it generally means you’ve got a lot of software starting up whenever your operating system starts. That’s bad for a number of reasons. First, it means Windows has to get more done before it finishes booting. Also, all that software running in the background drains system resources and causes an overall slowdown. One of the best things you can do to speed up your PC is to use a free program such as Autoruns (Autoruns for Windows) to examine what’s starting up with your PC. Chances are you’ll find a lot of stuff on the list that shouldn’t be there. Have a thorough look through it and disable anything you really don’t need.

Autorun for Windows Screenshot

Software can be part of the problem or part of the solution. Some programs are well-intentioned, but make your whole system slower, while others are actively malicious. On the other hand, the right software can help you reclaim lost speed and keep you safe. In this section we’ll look at both.


It never pays to be a software hoarder. As with the startup folder items described in the previous tip, excess installed software eats up your hard drive space and jams up your Start Menu, context menus, and more. You can try and uninstall unnecessary programs by hand, but it’s a lot easier with the aid of an uninstaller app such as CCleaner, which presents a list of your installed applications, and lets you perform one-click uninstalls.


If your computer has experienced a sudden and dramatic slowdown, the most likely culprit is malware. Even if you’re sure you never installed anything untoward, it’s a good idea to periodically run a malware scan. You can’t go wrong with Malwarebyte Anti-Malware (


These days, commercial antivirus is likely to cause as many problems as it fixes. If you keep Windows current, then the included Windows Defender antivirus will be enough to protect your computer from common attacks. Practice basic web safety (don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know, etc.) and you’ll stay safe without any security bloatware.


As described previously, you have to keep Windows current in order for Defender to do its job. Automatic updates might be a pain when they happen, but you’ll save time in the long run if you keep your computer secure. You can find Windows update settings in the System and Security tab of the Control Panel.


Most drivers are handled automatically these days, but you should still regularly check your video driver is up to date, especially if you plan to do any gaming. The video driver is performance-critical, and can be the source of a lot of in-game glitches. Additionally, updates are frequently published that increase speed in newly released games, so check back often and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Software Tweaks

From Linux to LibreOffice, don’t be scared to try the alternatives

Most of the issues that slow your computer down can be fixed with a little TLC. As we’ve been discussing, malware can be cleaned up, application clutter can be pruned, and so forth. Still, sometimes a computer can become so completely, utterly hosed that no amount of maintenance can fix it. The only way to unhose such a machine is to start fresh with a new Windows installation. If you’ve reached that point with your computer, here’s a few things to keep in mind as you reinstall Windows.


It’s frustrating to reinstall your OS only to realize you’ve forgotten a CD key and can’t reinstall important software. A program such as Enchanted Key Finder can automatically find most or all of the active CD keys on your system. Especially for industry-level applications like Photoshop, you should manually deactivate your software before uninstalling, in order to save yourself time later on.


Make your life easier next time you have to reinstall by creating a recovery disc of your newly clean PC. In Windows 8, you access the recovery media utility by opening the Start screen, typing "recovery" and selecting the option labelled "Create a recovery drive." The recovery drive will allow you to restore your computer to exactly this lovely fresh state without having to do a full reinstall.


This goes without saying, and is something you should be doing anyway. Make sure you’ve got all your important files backed up to an external drive or the cloud. Even if your files are on a separate partition from your Windows install, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Though we’re generally big fans of Windows, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that reinstalling Windows isn’t the only way to get a clean start.


You could also try a shiny new installation of a free alternative OS from the Linux family. Linux OSes are lighter-weight than Windows, and generally have much easier system requirements. You can install one as a secondary OS, and only boot to it when you want a more minimal desktop experience. If you’ve never tried Linux before, it might seem daunting, but it’s actually not that tricky with today’s user-friendly Linux distros. In fact, the hardest part might be picking which distro (a specific Linux-based operating system) to install. For years, the standard recommendation for newbies has been Ubuntu, which is polished, well-supported and very user friendly. It’s still a great option, but lately we’ve taken to recommending Linux Mint instead.

Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, and offers the same professional-quality experience and easy installation. Where it differs is in the user interface—the UI in Mint is a little more minimalist and will be more familiar to those coming from Microsoft OSes. There will obviously still be a learning curve, but you can generally get set up with a fully functional Linux desktop in an afternoon.


Sometimes the best way to get a quick performance boost is to replace an often used piece of software with a speedier alternative. That can mean giving up some functionality, but more often than not that’s a tradeoff worth making. Here are five common apps you might replace:


It used to be the case that the best advice you could give someone regarding their web browser was to drop Internet Explorer as fast as humanly possible. Fortunately, IE isn’t the absolute stinker it used to be, and IE 11 is actually very competitive in some benchmarks, such as JavaScript performance, where it blows away the competition.

Still, for most common browsing, you’re going to see a speed increase if you switch from IE to Chrome or Firefox. Chrome is arguably the fastest of the bunch overall, but it’s also noticeably more system resource intensive than Firefox, so if you’re trying to speed up an old PC, the latter might be a better choice.


Microsoft Word is the industry standard for text editing, but its expansive feature set comes at a hefty price to your system’s resources. Ask yourself if you really need everything that Word has to offer, and if you wouldn’t be better off using an alternative.

If you need a full-featured word processor with a smaller footprint, you can try Writer, part of the LibreOffice suite of free Office replacement applications. It offers nearly all the features of Word, with a much lighter set of system requirements. If you want to do some very light writing or note taking, consider the WordPad app that comes installed with Windows—it’s low on features, but very fast.


Adobe’s Photoshop is another widely-used app that can put a major strain on your system resources. If you’re using an older system that’s not up to running Photoshop CC (or if you just want to save a lot of cash), check out GIMP ( It’s an open-source image editor that can do almost everything Photoshop can. The interface is a little clunky and has a stepish learning curve, but GIMP will run much better on old PCs than newer versions of Photoshop.


Not to spend too much time harping on about Adobe, but the basic PDF Reader is one of the slowest, most frustrating pieces of software on your computer. You wouldn’t think something as simple as displaying a multimedia document (which your browser does in fractions of a second) would be slow and require a bulky install—and it doesn’t have to.

To reclaim lost speed, install the alternative, a free version of Foxit reader ( It has a nice interface, takes up very little disk space, and runs faster than your chunky old Adobe Reader.


Speed is only one of the many reasons to replace the default Windows Media Player with a different application, such as the excellent VLC ( Though VLC is quicker to start playback on media files, the real time savings come from the app’s flexibility. Watching a video in other players can be a stop-and-go experience involving tracking down codecs or differently formatted media files. With VLC, you know most any file will just work, and it’ll work fast.



If you’re experiencing slowdown in games, make sure you’re taking advantage of customization options available in the preferences menu. Lowering resolution is the obvious way to get better performance, but make sure you’re looking at other options as well—turning down anti-aliasing or shadow quality can make a huge difference.


Try out GeForce Experience (for NVIDIA GPUs) or AMD Gaming Evolved, both of which automatically tweak game settings. They profile your hardware, then consult a constantly refined database of hardware data to suggest optimum settings, without any trial and error.


Introduced in Windows 7, jumplists are a fast way to access recent or frequently used documents or features of programs. Instead of left-clicking on an icon to open it, right-click on it instead—you’ll see a context-sensitive list of shortcuts or documents for that program.


Freeing up hard drive space won’t always make your computer faster, but it can make a big difference if your drives are almost at capacity. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to delete, use a free drive visualizer such as WinDirStat ( to pinpoint greedy programs and docs.



It’s great how extendable modern browsers are, but it’s easy to slow down your web browsing by installing too many add-ons and extensions. Go into the settings for your browser, and make sure you actually use any active extensions. If you have a toolbar that you can’t figure out how to uninstall, try CCleaner.


If you’ve ever found yourself trying to select all but a few files in a large list, you know it can be an exercise in tedium and frustration. Rather than wearing your left-click button out, try this neat trick: Just hold Control and select the files you don’t want, then click on “Invert Selection” in the options menu.


Windows search has gotten a lot faster over the years, but it can still be slow, particularly if you’re searching for a file outside the User folder. For near-instant searching through every file on your PC, download the free program Everything from


There’s a fast way to open up a second window or document in a program that supports multiple simultaneous instances (like your web browser, or Microsoft Word). Instead of manually creating a new doc, just hold down the Shift key and click on the taskbar icon for the program. Clicking the middle mouse button will do the same thing.


A lot of users overlook one of the handiest features in the File Explorer: the favorite locations list in the upper left. If you find yourself frequently navigating to the same file location, save it to the Favorites for easy access. All you have to do is drag the folder to the Favorites area, and it’ll be saved forever.


Become an expert in getting the most out of your hardware

If you’ve never done it before, overclocking might seem like black magic. The practitioner delves into the shadowy, mysterious world of the BIOS, tweaks some arcane symbols, and when they resurface, the PC is somehow faster

But the truth is, anyone with the right hardware can overclock with just a little patience. Here we’ll talk about overclocking every part of your PC, from the CPU to the GPU to the RAM.

We should mention that the guides presented in this section are very cursory —there’s just not enough space to really get into the details of the overclocking procedure. That said, we’ve tried to give you a good idea of the basic process involved. There’s a ton of information about overclocking available online, and we encourage you to search for info pertaining to your specific hardware before jumping in.

If you follow these procedures you’re very unlikely to damage your hardware, but a component-specific guide can reduce the guesswork required.


Before we get into the process, we should point out that only certain CPUs can be overclocked, so you should do a search to see if you have an "unlocked" processor. The basic rule for recent Intel processors is that CPUs with model numbers ending in the letter "K" are unlocked.


For space purposes this guide will only discuss Intel CPUs, but the basic process is the same for AMD chips. You’ll also need a motherboard with overclocking capabilities. The Intel mobos with model numbers starting with “Z” are overclocking-ready, but for other brands you’ll have to search to find out if yours can overclock. Finally, for all but the smallest overclocks, you will almost certainly want an aftermarket CPU cooler.


There are several apps you need while you overclock your CPU. First, you’ll need CPU-Z (, an application which allows you to view detailed information about your CPU from within Windows. The actual overclocking will be done in the BIOS, but CPU-Z will let you make sure your settings are properly applied during testing. You’ll also need RealTemp (, which shows you your CPU temperature, and Prime95, to stress-test the CPU.

Once you’ve installed the necessary software, reboot and press whatever keys are required to get into your motherboard’s BIOS. If you don’t know those keys and it doesn’t say during the boot sequence, you’ll have to do a web search.


Once in the BIOS, you’ll need to find the settings menu for adjusting CPU performance. This will probably be easier if you search for documentation about your particular motherboard, but you can also just look for the menu that features options like "baseclock," "core voltage," and CPU Ratio. That last option is what we want to increase. Upping the CPU Ratio by one (from 34 to 35, for instance), increases the final clock speed of the CPU by 0.1GHz (from 3.4GHz to 3.5GHz). To successfully overclock the CPU, we’ll increase this multiplier by one, save, and reboot the OS.


Now that we’ve performed a small overclock, we need to make sure everything’s still working. In Windows, launch CPU-Z and check the ratio (also called a "multiplier") is what you set it to. Next, load up RealTemp and then run Prime95, while watching your core temperature. If your CPU temperature rises above 80 ° C, then your overclock is unstable and may degrade your CPU—you’ll have to boot back into the BIOS and return the multiplier to its previous setting. On the first test, this shouldn’t be the case. Alternatively, Prime95 might throw up an error, or your computer might crash. If that happens, your voltage is too low.


Whatever happens, restart your PC and boot back into the BIOS. If you had no issues whatsoever, just increase the multiplier by one more and go back to Step 3. If you experienced a glitch or a crash, you need to crank up the CPU voltage, so increment that value by 0.05. It’s a good idea to do a search for the maximum safe voltage for your particular CPU. Return to Step 3 and repeat the process, increasing the multiplier when possible and voltage as needed, until your temperature gets too high or you approach the maximum safe voltage.


For a gaming PC, your GPU performance may well be more important than your processor’s. Most modern games are GPU-bound, so eking a little more performance out of your GPU will have a more dramatic effect on your gaming experience than a similar improvement in the CPU.


Fortunately, basic GPU overclocking has become incredibly simple in recent years, thanks to very userfriendly overclocking tools that do most of the heavy lifting for you.

If you have an NVIDIA card, grab EVGA PrecisionX from (note it doesn’t have to be an EVGA card), or if your card is AMD you can actually overclock it directly from the Catalyst Control Centre.


Before you begin, you’ll need to download a suitable benchmark, which serves two purposes. First, it will allow you to quantify your computer’s graphics performance, so you can tell how much of a difference your overclocking actually makes. Second, running the benchmark acts as a stress-test on your graphics card, so that as you tweak your overclock settings you’ll quickly see if you’ve pushed things too far.

Visit UNIGINE to download Heaven, the current standard for graphics benchmarks. Set a baseline by running through it once at full-screen resolution. Record your results.


In your overclocking software, you’ll see sliders for power limit, memory clock and core clock. We’d adjust all of these, starting with the power limit. Simply set it as high as it will go.

Next, we’ll overclock your graphics card’s RAM. All you have to do is run the Heaven benchmark in a window, and gradually start increasing the memory clock setting until you see glitches or visual artifacts in the benchmark. Increase the memory clock in increments of 5-10MHz. If you go too high too fast you might crash the system (though it will be fine after a reset).


After you’ve found the sweet spot for your memory clock, set it back to default and shift your focus to the core clock. Again, up the clockspeed in small increments, until the Heaven benchmark starts to show the strain. The telltale visual artifacts can take a number of forms, including colored blobs, full-screen flashes or stray pixels. When they start to appear, dial the GPU clock back until the benchmark is once again stable. Also keep an eye on the temperature of your graphics card. Even if no visual artifacts appear, you’ll want to keep the average GPU temperature below 80 °C, or you’ll wear your expensive chip out much faster.


Once you’ve found the ideal overclock for both the video memory and the GPU, you’re ready to activate both at the same time and run the benchmark in full screen again. There’s a good chance that with both active you’ll see new artefacts or your PC will crash. If that happens, just tweak both overclocks down by a small increment and keep trying to run the tests.

Even if your benchmark is stable for now, there’s a chance it will overheat during longer sessions. We recommend you loop the Heaven benchmark for 15-20 minutes to make sure that this isn’t the case.


Is it worth it?

It’s possible to overclock your memory if you have the right hardware, but it’s much less commonly done than CPU or GPU overclocking. So, should you overclock your RAM? In our opinion, no.

The reason we don’t recommend overclocking RAM is a simple cost-benefit analysis. The cost, like with any overclock, is in stability. Especially with an aggressive overclock, you run the risk of wearing your part out prematurely, or of making it unstable and causing system crashes. The GPU can recover from a glitch without crashing the whole system, but not your RAM. Also, because RAM overclocking isn’t quite as common, there are fewer resources available to help you.

On the flip side, the benefits to overclocking your RAM just aren’t very substantial. Overclocked RAM has faster throughput, but memory throughput is almost never a bottleneck, and will have a negligible effect on gaming performance. The risks of overclocking memory aren’t huge, but there’s just not much reason to do it.

More Hardware Tweaks

Five more ways to get your PC back to its speedy best


One of the oldest computer tricks in the book, defragging your hard drive isn’t quite the performance booster it used to be. For one, more and more computers now come with SSDs, which do not benefit from defragging. Also, Windows 7 and 8 defragment on an automatic schedule, so it’s unlikely your drives are fragmented if you use one of those systems. On older versions of Windows, fragmentation can still slow your hard drives down, so it’s worth running a disk defragmentation program, such as the built in Windows Dfrg.msc or the free Defraggler (


SSDs don’t need to be defragged, but there is one optimization that can make a big difference, called TRIM support. TRIM prevents an SSD from slowing down as it gets filled with data, and increases its expected life span. The good (or bad) news is that Windows 7 and 8 automatically enable TRIM for SSDs, so you won’t be able to get a speed boost there. However, if you’re running Windows XP or Vista, it’s definitely worth enabling it. To do this, you’ll have to use the third-party management software available from the manufacturer of your SSD.


Not every problem that slows your PC is a high-tech one. Old-fashioned dirt and dust can build up, blocking fans and vents. It may seem trivial, but a jammed vent can cause your PC to overheat and chug. Airflow obstructions are especially likely in homes with hairy pets. In the worst cases, high heat will cause your components to degrade faster. Get in there with a can of compressed air and make sure nothing’s blocking your vents, fans or the fins of your CPU cooler.


If you have an external USB drive you frequently transfer data to or from, you can get a small speed boost by disabling write caching on the drive. The drawback is that write caching protects USB drives from data loss if they’re removed in the midst of a transfer. If you’re willing to make sure to press the “safely remove drive” button every time, you can improve performance by opening the Device Manager, navigating to the drive, then right-clicking it and opening the Properties menu. In the Policies tab, click "Better Performance."


Hard drive failure is one of the most alarming things. Even with a back-up strategy (which you have, right?) the temporary loss of your data is a major inconvenience. Save yourself some time down the line by running a SMART test on your hard drive—a process that will help you identify soon-to-fail drives. Just download a free SMART diagnostic tool like CrystalDiskCheck, and run it to test your drive. If the drive fails any of the tests, it’s time to get a new one.


Stay lean, get mean, and keep it clean

If you’ve made it through all the tips in this article, you’ve probably noticed that none of the steps individually are that big or difficult. Instead, what it really comes down to is cultivating a set of habits that keep your PC organized and efficient. To try and contextualize it a little more, here’s a big picture look at how to keep your PC running as fast as it can.

On the hardware level, basic maintenance is all you really need. There are a few tweaks to be made, but as long as you keep your system physically clean and occasionally run a test to check the integrity of your hard drives, you’ll be fine. You can get a significant speed boost by overclocking your hardware, but only if it’s a good component to begin with.

There are lots of ways to improve your system at the OS and software level, but they basically boil down to a few central principles. For one, try and keep things lean. The more software you install, the more things start up with your PC. The fuller your hard drives are, the slower your computer’s going to run. Don’t stress about every little thing you install, but if you can delete a few programs every now and then your computer will be better off. Similarly, consider replacing some of your more heavy-duty programs with lightweight ones, if you don’t need all the features of the former.

Finally, you have to acknowledge that sometimes the best thing you can do is to just start fresh. We described when you should reinstall, the best way to do it, and even how you can start again with a whole new operating system. Hopefully your computer isn’t at that stage yet, and you’ll be able to put some of the tips from the last 10 pages to good use.

By PCmatter

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