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Tips to improve PC performance in Windows 10

Tips to improve PC performance in Windows 10

Applies to: Windows 10

The following suggestions can help your PC make the most out of Windows 10. The tips are listed in order, so start with the first one, see if that helps, and then continue to the next one if it doesn’t.

  1. Make sure you have the latest updates for Windows and device drivers

One the best ways to get the most of your PC is to make sure you have the latest version of Windows 10 installed. When you check for updates, your PC will also search for the latest device drivers, which can also help improve your PC’s performance.

To check for updates

  1. Select StartSettingsUpdate & Security  > Windows Update  > Check for updates.
  2. Look under Update status and do one of the following:
    • If the status says “You’re up to date,” go to the next tip.
    • If the status says “Updates are available,” select Install now.
  3. Select the updates you want to install, then select Install.
  4. Restart your PC and see if it seems to run better.

For more info about updates, including how you can have them installed automatically for you, see the Windows Update FAQ.

If your PC still runs slow, continue to the next tip.

  1. Restart your PC and open only the apps you need

Having more open apps, programs, web browsers, and so on can slow down your PC. If this is happening, restart your PC and then close the apps, programs, and windows you’re not using.

To restart your PC

  1. Select StartPowerRestart.
  2. After your PC restarts, open just the apps you need, then close them when you’re done.

Sometimes apps that were made for an earlier version of Windows will still run on Windows 10, but they might slow down your PC. If this happens after you open a certain program, check the software company’s website for an updated version, or run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter.

To run the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type troubleshoot, and then select Troubleshoot, which has System settings listed underneath it.
  2. In the list of troubleshooters, select Program Compatibility TroubleshooterRun the troubleshooter.
  3. Select the program that you’re having problems with, then select Nextand continue through the troubleshooter.

PC still running slow? Continue on.

  1. Check memory and memory usage

With memory, one of the first things to do is find out how much memory (RAM) you have and how much of it is currently being used. You can find out these things and much more in Task Manager.

To check memory and memory usage

  1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete, and then select Task Manager.
  2. In Task Manager, select More detailsPerformanceMemory.First, see how much you have total, and then check the graph and see how much RAM is being used.

 

  1. Total amount of memory (RAM)
  2. Memory in use

If you find that much of your RAM is regularly being used, consider adding more RAM if possible—especially if your PC only has 1 or 2 gigabytes (GB) of RAM. To learn more about what kind of RAM your PC model uses, first look at the memory info in Task Manager, and then visit the PC manufacturer’s website for more specific info.

  1. Type of memory (RAM) PC uses
  2. RAM speed
  3. Memory slots used

Here’s some info about the minimum memory requirements for Windows 10:

  • Windows 10 (32-bit) can run on a PC with 1 GB of RAM, but it runs better with 2 GB. For better performance, add memory so you have 3 GB or more.
  • Windows 10 (64-bit) can run on a PC with 2 GB of RAM, but it runs better with 4 GB. For better performance, add memory so you have 6 GB or more.

For more info about the system requirements for Windows 10, see the Windows 10 Specifications page.

Use ReadyBoost to help improve performance

ReadyBoost lets you use a removable drive, like a USB flash drive, to improve your PC’s performance without opening your PC and adding more memory (RAM). To use ReadyBoost, you’ll need a USB flash drive or a memory card that has at least 500 MB free and a high data transfer rate.

To use ReadyBoost

  1. Insert the USB flash drive into a USB port on your PC.
  2. On the taskbar, select File Explorer .
  3. Press and hold (or right-click) the USB flash drive (or SD card if you used one instead), and then select Properties.
  4. Select the ReadyBoosttab, then select Use this device.
    Windows determines if the device can use ReadyBoost. If it can’t, it’ll let you know.
  5. After Windows determines how much free space to use to optimize memory, select OKto reserve this space so ReadyBoost can use it.When you look at the contents of the USB flash drive in File Explorer, you’ll see a file named ReadyBoost.sfcache on the flash drive. This file shows how much space is reserved for ReadyBoost.

Note

ReadyBoost can’t be used if Windows is installed on a solid state drive (SSD). An SSD is already fast, and ReadyBoost won’t be able to improve its performance.

Change the paging file size to improve performance

The paging file is an area on your hard disk that Windows uses like memory. Increasing the paging file size can help improve your PC’s performance.

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type advanced system, and then select View advanced system settings, which has Control panel listed underneath it.
  2. In System Properties, on the Advancedtab, select Settingsin the Performance area.
  3. In Performance Options, select AdvancedChangein the Virtual memory area.
  4. Clear the Automatically manage paging file size for all drivescheck box.
  5. Select Custom size, then enter an initial size (in MB) and maximum size in the corresponding boxes.
  6. Select SetOK.
  7. Restart your PC by selecting StartPowerRestart.

Use your PC then see if it’s running better. If it’s not, try the next tip.

  1. Check for low disk space and make some room

You may improve performance if you free some disk space on your PC.

To check for low disk space

  1. Select StartSettings  > System  > Storage.
  2. Under Storage, your drives will be listed. Note the amount of free space and total size for each drive.

Note

If your PC is not low on space, try the next tip.

To empty the recycle bin and delete temporary files

  1. Select Start, then select Settings  > System  > Storage.
  2. Under Storage, select This PC > Free up space now.
  3. Make sure that Temporary filesand Recycle Bin are both selected in the list of files, and review any other files types that are selected.
  4. Select Remove files.
  5. Restart your PC and try to reproduce the performance issue.

If your PC still runs slowly, try uninstalling apps you don’t use anymore.

Tip

To see what’s in your recycle bin before you empty it, open it from your desktop.

Note

You may not want to delete temporary files to improve performance. While these files may not be used at the moment, they help your apps load and run faster.

To uninstall apps you don’t use anymore

  1. Select Start, then select SettingsApps  > Apps & features.
  2. Search for a specific app or sort them to see which ones are using the most space.
  3. When you find an app to remove, choose it from the list and select Uninstall.
  4. Restart your PC and try to reproduce the performance issue.

If your PC still runs slowly, try moving files to another drive.

To move files to another drive

If you have photos, music, or other files that you want to keep but don’t use often, consider saving them to removable media, like a USB drive. You’ll still be able to use them when the drive is connected, but they won’t take up space on your PC.

  1. Connect the removable media to your PC.
  2. Open File Explorerfrom the taskbar and find the files you want to move.
  3. Select the files go to Home, then select Move to >Choose location.
  4. Select your removable media from the location list, and then select Move.
  5. Restart your PC and see if performance is improved.

Get more info about freeing drive space in Windows 10.

If your PC still runs slowly, try the next tip.

  1. Restore your PC from a system restore point

Restoring your PC undoes recent changes that might be causing problems. If you think a recently installed app, driver, or update for Windows could be causing problems, you might get things running normally again by restoring your PC to an earlier point, called a restore point.

Notes

  • Restoring from a restore point won’t affect your personal files, but it will remove apps, drivers, and updates that were installed after the restore point was created.
  • System restore works for changes made in the last 7 to 14 days.

To restore your PC from a restore point

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type restore point, then select Create a restore pointfrom the list of results.
  2. On the System Protection tab, select System Restore.
  3. Select Next, then choose the restore point related to the app, driver, or update that might be causing the problem. Then select NextFinish.
  4. Restart your PC. Do what you were doing before to see if performance has improved.

If you don’t see any restore points, it might be because system protection isn’t turned on.

To turn on system protection

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type restore point, then select Create a restore pointfrom the list of results.
  2. On the System Protectiontab, select Configure.
  3. Select Turn on system protectionOK.

If your PC still runs slow, try the next tip.

  1. Disable unnecessary startup programs

When you turn on your PC, some programs start automatically and run in the background. You can disable these programs so they don’t run when your PC starts.

Many programs are designed to start automatically when Windows does. Software manufacturers often set their programs to open in the background—you don’t realize they’re running, but they’ll open quickly when you go to use them. This is helpful for programs you use a lot, but not for programs you don’t use often because it increases the time it takes Windows to start.

Find the programs that start automatically

Sometimes you can determine which programs start automatically by looking at the program icons in the notification area on the far right of the taskbar. Check there first to see if there are any programs running that you don’t want to start automatically. To try to find out the name of the program, point to the icon with your mouse pointer. Make sure you select Show hidden icons , so you don’t miss any programs.

Notification area with mouse pointing to show hidden icons

Even after you check the notification area, you might still miss some programs that run automatically at startup. Here’s how you can find all the programs that start automatically, and stop the ones that you don’t want to start automatically when Windows starts.

To stop a program from starting automatically

  1. Select Start , then select Settings Apps Startup .
  2. Under Startup Apps, find the program you want to stop from starting automatically and set it to Off.

Notes

  • If you turn off a program and it continues to start automatically when Windows starts, you should scan for viruses and malware. See the next section for more info.
  • To use the procedure above to stop a program from starting automatically, you need to have Windows 10 (Version 1803 or higher) installed. To see which version of Windows 10 your device is currently running, select StartSettings  > System > About.
  • If you have Windows 10 (Version 1709 or earlier) installed, press CtrlAlt + Delete, select Task Manager, select Startup, select the program you want to stop from starting automatically, and then select Disable.
  1. Check for and remove viruses and malware

A virus, malware, or malicious software could cause your PC to run slowly. Other symptoms include unexpected pop-up messages, programs that unexpectedly start automatically, or the sound of your hard disk constantly working.

The best way to handle viruses and malicious software is to try to prevent them by running antimalware and antivirus software and keeping it up to date. However, even if you take precautions, your PC can still become infected.

You can scan your PC for viruses or other malicious software by using Windows Security (formerly Windows Defender Security Center), which is included in Windows 10. For more info, see How to protect your Windows 10 PC.

Notes

  • If you’re using other antivirus or anti-malware software, see the documentation for that program to learn how to scan for viruses. Also, make sure multiple antivirus programs aren’t running at the same time. If they are, choose the one you want to run, and then disable or uninstall any others.
  • If you have another antivirus program installed and turned on, Windows Security will be turned off by default.

To scan for viruses using Windows Security (Windows 10 Version 1809)

  1. Select StartSettingsUpdate & Security  > Windows Security  > Open Windows Security.
  2. Select Virus & threat protection >Virus & threat protection updates, then select Check for updatesto make sure you have the latest definition file.
  3. Select  Virus & threat protection, then select Quick scan.Wait for Windows Security to finish scanning for viruses and malware.
  4. Do one of the following, depending on the results of the scan:
    • Run the recommended advanced scan. This scan takes longer but searches more extensively for threats on your PC.
    • If Windows Security finds a virus or malware and can’t remove or quarantine it, contact Microsoft Supportfor help.
    • If no viruses are found, restart your PC and try to reproduce the performance problem you were having with your PC.

Note

If Windows Security doesn’t open, can’t update the definition file, or can’t finish scanning for viruses, try running Windows Defender Offline, which is explained below in To scan for malware and viruses with Windows Defender Offline (Windows 10 Version 1809).

To see which version of Windows 10 your device is currently running, select the Start  button, then select Settings  > System > About.

To scan for viruses using Windows Defender Security Center (Windows 10 Version 1803)

  1. Select StartSettingsUpdate & Security  > Windows Security  > Open Windows Defender Security Center.
  2. Select Virus & threat protection, then select Virus & threat protection updatesCheck for updatesto make sure you have the latest definition file.
  3. Select the Virus & threat protectiontab and select Scan now.Wait for Windows Defender Security Center to finish scanning for viruses and malware.
  4. Do one of the following, depending on the results of the scan:
    • Run the recommended advanced scan. This scan takes longer but searches more extensively for threats on your PC.
    • If Windows Defender Security Center finds a virus or malware and can’t remove or quarantine it, contact Microsoft Supportfor help.
    • If no viruses are found, restart your PC and try to reproduce the performance problem you were having with your PC.

Note

If Windows Defender Security Center doesn’t open, can’t update the definition file, or can’t finish scanning for viruses, try running Windows Defender in Offline Mode, which is explained below in To scan for malware and viruses with Windows Defender Offline (Windows 10 Version 1803).

To see which version of Windows 10 your device is currently running, select the Start  button, then select Settings  > System > About.

To scan for malware and viruses with Windows Defender Offline (Windows 10 Version 1809)

  1. Save any documents or anything else you might have open on your PC.
  2. Select StartSettingsUpdate & Security  > Windows Security  > Open Windows Security.
  3. Select Virus & threat protection, and then under Current threats, select Scan optionsWindows Defender Offline scanScan now.Your PC will restart, and Windows Defender Offline will run and scan for viruses and malware. The scan might take 15 minutes or so, and your PC will restart again after that.
  4. Try to reproduce the performance issue.

If your PC still runs slow, continue to the next tip.

To scan for malware and viruses with Windows Defender Offline (Windows 10 Version 1803)

  1. Save any documents or anything else you might have open on your PC.
  2. Select StartSettingsUpdate & Security  > Windows Security  > Open Windows Defender Security Center.
  3. Select Virus & threat protection, then select Run a new advanced scanWindows Defender Offline scanScan now.Your PC will restart, and Windows Defender Offline will run and scan for viruses and malware. The scan might take 15 minutes or so, and your PC will restart again after that.
  4. Try to reproduce the performance issue.

If your PC still runs slow, continue to the next tip.

  1. Check for corrupted Windows system files

The Deployment Image Service and Management Tool (DISM) is a utility  that scans for corrupted Windows system files. If it finds a problem, it will try to replace the problematic system files from a cached version that’s on your PC. If DISM can’t replace the files, the System File Checker (SFC) can check the corrupted files then download and replace the files through Windows Update.

To use the Deployment Image Service and Management Tool (DISM)

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type powershell, press and hold (or right-click) Windows PowerShell, and then select Run as administratorYes.
  2. At the prompt, type exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth(note the space between “dism.exe” and “/” and each switch (/)).
  3. If DISM finds corrupted files and replaces them, restart your PC and see that improves performance.

Note

You must be connected to the Internet to use DISM, and it might take several minutes to finish.

For more info about DISM, see Fix Windows Update errors by using the DISM or System Update Readiness tool.

To run System File Checker (SFC)

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type powershell, press and hold (or right-click) Windows PowerShell, then select Run as administratorYes.
  2. At the prompt, type sfc /scannow(note the space between “sfc” and the “/”).
    Scanning will take a few minutes.
  3. Do one of the following, depending on the results of the scan:
    • If SFC finds corrupted files and replaces them, restart your PC and see if that improves your PC’s performance.
    • If SFC doesn’t find corrupted files or finds corrupted files but can’t replace them, try using the Deployment Image Service and Management Tool (DISM).

For more info about System File Checker, see Use the System File Checker tool to repair missing or corrupted system files.

  1. Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows

Windows 10 includes many visual effects, such as animations and shadow effects. These look great, but they can also use additional system resources and can slow down your PC—this is especially true if you have a PC with a smaller amount of memory (RAM).

To adjust the visual effects in Windows

  1. In the search box on the taskbar, type performance, then select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.
  2. On the Visual Effectstab, select Adjust for best performanceApply.
  3. Restart your PC and see if that speeds up your PC.

If your PC still runs slow, continue to the next tip.

  1. Pause OneDrive syncing

Your PC settings let you choose where files will be saved by default. You can save files on your PC or to OneDrive by default and sync files between the two locations. This lets you get to your files from any device that can connect to the internet, and it helps make sure your files are backed up in case your PC is ever damaged or lost. However, files must sync between your PC and OneDrive, and syncing can slow down your PC. You can pause OneDrive syncing temporarily and see if it helps improve your PC performance.

To stop syncing to OneDrive

  1. On the taskbar, look for OneDrive near the notification area.
  2. Select OneDrive More Pause syncing, and then choose how long you want to pause syncing your files.
  3. Restart your PC and see if your performance issues have improved with syncing paused.
  4. To resume syncing your files, select OneDriveMore  >Resume syncing.

You can also visit Fix OneDrive sync problems to check for any sync issues.

Note

If you have the Window 10 Fall Creators Update, you can use OneDrive Files On-Demand to choose which files you want to sync and always keep on your PC. This can help improve PC performance if you reduce the number of files that are synced to your PC.

For more info on OneDrive Files On-Demand, see Learn about OneDrive Files On-Demand.

  1. Reset your PC

When you reset your PC, you can choose whether you want to keep your personal files or remove them, then have Windows reinstalled. Resetting your PC should be one of the last things you should try.

Do one of the following:

  • If you want to keep your files, follow the steps in To back up your data.
  • If you want to remove your files and not back them up, follow the steps in To reset your PC.

To back up your data

  1. Select the Startbutton > SettingsUpdate & Security  > Backup  > Add a drive, and then choose an external drive or network location to back up your files to.
  2. On the Backupscreen, select More optionsBack up now.
    This backs up all the files in your Users folders—including Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Favorites, Music, Pictures, and more.

Note

The backup might take several minutes to finish. Your external drive or network location must have enough free space for all the files that you want to back up.

To reset your PC

  1. Go to SettingsUpdate & securityRecovery .
  2. Under Reset this PC, select Get started.
    For more info about resetting your PC, see Recovery options in Windows 10.

To restore your data

After you reset your PC, here’s how to restore your data from your backup. When you do this, all the personal files you backed up will be put back on your PC.

  1. Select StartSettingsUpdate & Security  > Backup  > Add a drive, and then choose the external drive or network location that you backed up your files to.
  2. On the Backup screen, select More optionsRestore files from a current backup.
  3. When the external hard drive or network location that you backed up to is available, select the green circle at the bottom to start restoring your files and folders.
    It might take several minutes for Windows to restore your files.

 

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