How to Speed Up My Windows 11 Computer (2024)

Robert_Stark
edited December 2023 in PC Tech

If your New Year's resolution is to get more done, start by speeding up your Windows 11 PC. With just a few simple changes, snappier boot, loading, and processing times will make your computer faster and keep pace with your 2024 ambitions.

There are four main performance categories to speed up your computer: 

 

  1. OS tweaks 
  2. App removal 
  3. Software upgrades 
  4. Hardware upgrades 

We'll show you how to pinpoint slowdowns and revamp your system for optimal speed. Ready to make your Windows work as fast as you do? Let's dive in! 

1. Run a virus/malware scan

First step: check for hidden malware and viruses which cripple your computer's performance. They often infiltrate systems through unsuspecting downloads or malicious links, then silently execute tasks in the background, consuming valuable system resources. This unauthorized background activity devours your processing power, slowing everything down. 

Windows 11 comes with Windows Security, free software which provides the latest antivirus protection. With real-time protection, it scans for security threats and downloads automatic updates.

Run an advanced scan in Windows Security: 

  1. Open Windows Security: Select Start > Settings > search for Virus & threat protection
  2. Choose Your Scan Type: Under Current threats, click on Scan options. Here, you'll see a few choices: 
  • Quick scan: This checks folders in your system where threats are commonly found. 
  • Full Scan: This checks all files and programs on your device. 
  • Custom Scan: Use this to scan specific files or folders. 
  • Microsoft Defender Offline Scan (offline scan): This restarts your PC and performs a deep scan before Windows loads, targeting particularly tricky malware.

2. Declutter: Remove junk files, unused programs, and bloatware

Sometimes, it's not Windows 11 slowing your PC down but the clutter of unwanted programs and files. Bloatware and adware, often pre-installed, can secretly hog system resources. Symptoms include longer boot times and sluggish performance as background processes and scheduled tasks pile up.

Reclaim speed with selective app removal. Unused apps aren't just taking up space; they eat into memory, clog your system's registry, and can even cause conflicts and slowdowns by running unseen background processes.

Streamline your system with these steps: 

  1. Identify bloatware: Visit Should I Remove It? – a helpful website that lists common bloatware by manufacturers. 
  2. Uninstall unneeded programs: Head to Settings > Apps > Installed apps. Review the list and uninstall apps you no longer need. 
  3. Activate Storage Sense: This feature in Windows automatically clears out unneeded files when space is low. Go to Settings > System > Storage. In Storage management, turn on Storage Sense
  4. Clean up Temporary Files: Open Settings > System > Storage. Click Temporary files. Windows will list files you can safely delete. Check the boxes and hit Remove files. 
  5. Tidy your desktop: Each icon on your desktop uses resources. Keep it clean. Move lesser-used shortcuts and files to folders.

Keeping your system lean frees up space and ensures it runs more efficiently. A clean PC is a faster PC!

3. Limit background startup programs for faster boot times

When Windows starts, a host of unseen background processes fire up, each vying for a slice of your system's resources. From vital drivers to random bloatware you never use, this startup free-for-all often bogs down boot speed substantially.

Fortunately, Windows 11 puts you in control. You can streamline your boot-up sequence, shaving minutes off the launch by stripping unnecessary processes and paring it down to only essential services:

How to optimize startup in Windows 11: 

  1. Open the Task Manager: Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc or Right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager
  2. Switch to the Startup Tab: You'll see background processes loading when you boot your PC. Pay attention to the 'Startup Impact' column – it indicates how much each program slows down the startup. 
  3. Disable non-essential programs: Click on any program you don't regularly use and select Disable. This stops them from running automatically at startup, freeing up resources. There's no need to uninstall these programs yet; just preventing them from running at startup can make a big difference. 
  4. Keep crucial programs running: Ensure essential services like security software, drivers, and other critical apps are enabled. However, don't hesitate to experiment with disabling others to see how it affects startup speed.

By ensuring only essential services run at startup, your PC will reach the desktop quicker and be ready for action. Repeat the process periodically to adjust for any new programs that might have been added.

4. Update Windows for the latest performance enhancements

Outdated Windows runs like worn-out spark plugs in a car; they may still function but rob the machine of its speed. Each update brings enhancements that:

  • Speed up your system. 
  • Fix bugs. 
  • Improve security. 
  • Add new features.

Keeping Windows 11 updated ensures your PC runs as efficiently as possible. Here's how to stay current:

  1. Open Windows Menu: Start > Settings > Windows Update 
  2. Check for updates: Click on Check for updates. If updates are available, you can choose to install them. 
  3. Install updates: Once the updates are downloaded, you might need to click Install now or restart your PC to complete the installation. 
  4. Stay constantly updated: In Windows Update, toggle the Get the latest updates as soon as they're available to On.

When you check for updates, Windows will also search for the latest device drivers, which can boost your PC's performance. Beyond software, adjusting how Windows manages your hardware resources can also unlock extra speed.

5. Boost speed with Windows Best Performance power plan

Windows' balanced power plans conserve energy yet strangle speed. Unlock your computer's full potential by properly fueling its processor.

Switching to Best Performance mode draws more power, immediately improving response across the board. From launching apps to multitasking, actions feel snappier as your CPU runs at total capacity when needed.

Setting Best Performance power plan in Windows 11: 

  1. Open Power Options: Right-click the Start button, select Power Options, or search for it in the Start Menu
  2. Choose Best Performance: Select the Best Performance plan. 
  3. Customize settings (optional): You can customize this plan by clicking Screen and sleep. Adjust sleep and display settings to suit your needs.

Remember, the Best Performance plan uses more energy, impacting laptop battery life. If you're on a laptop, use this plan only when plugged in. For desktops, it's an excellent way to ensure your machine runs at its full potential.

6. Speed Up Windows by disabling Visual Effects

Windows 11's flashy shadows, animations, and visual effects look great but can slow down older PCs. If you're working with a less powerful machine with less RAM, turning these features off can boost your speed.

How to adjust Visual Effects in Windows 11: 

  1. Open Performance options: Click Search, type performance, and select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows in the results list. 
  2. Optimize Visual Effects: On the Visual Effect Options, select Adjust for best performance and click Apply. This action disables all unnecessary visual effects. 
  3. Restart: For the changes to take effect, restart your PC. 
  4. Custom Tune: You can manually disable specific animations and effects. Choose Custom under Visual Effects and uncheck the effects you want to disable. Animations typically impact performance the most.

With these changes, Windows 11 can run smoother and faster, particularly on older hardware.

7. Clean your PC

Keeping your PC clean and dust-free is vital for peak performance and long-lasting hardware. Dust build-up inside your computer hinders airflow and increases the temperature. This stresses the components and raises the risk of overheating, which can slow down your machine, cause shutdowns, and even permanent damage.

Regular cleaning keeps your computer's temperature in check, ensuring it runs efficiently and lasts longer. Cleaning your PC is a simple 20-minute task that uses a few essential tools.

Here's a simple guide to cleaning your PC: 

  1. Turn off and unplug Safety first. Make sure your computer is turned off and unplugged. 
  2. Open the case: If you're comfortable, open the computer's case to access internal components. If you're using a laptop, follow the manufacturer's guidelines. 
  3. Use compressed air: Gently use compressed air to blow out dust from the components. Be careful not to touch any parts. 
  4. Clean vents and fans: Dust clogs vents and fans. Clear these areas to ensure proper airflow. 
  5. Wipe down exteriors: Use a microfiber cloth to clean the outside of your PC and monitor. 
  6. Reassemble and reconnect: Put everything back together and reconnect your computer.

A dust-free PC means a cooler and more efficient machine. Check our complete guide to cleaning your desktop PC.

8. Upgrade your hardware (RAM and SSD)

If you've tried everything and your PC still lags, aging components may be the true culprits. Upgrading your RAM and HD can rejuvenate older machines by eliminating bottlenecks.

RAM upgrade: If your digital life feels like it's in slow motion, more RAM can be your turbo boost. Adding RAM brings older systems back from the brink, boosting gaming, video editing, and heavy multitasking capacities.

4 GB is the minimum for Windows 11. Extra RAM brings older machines back from the brink with a noticeable jump in speed and efficiency.

SSD for speed: An old, clunky hard drive bogs down both boot times and loading data-heavy games. Upgrading to an SSD doesn't allow you to run more programs at once, like RAM. But, expect faster boot times, quicker game loads, and snappier performance in Windows 11. SSDs also offer more storage, operate quietly, and are more energy-efficient, making them an excellent laptop upgrade.

Keeping your SSD under 80% capacity? That's the sweet spot for peak performance and longevity.

Choosing RAM or SSD: Decide based on your PC's needs. Low on RAM? Upgrade it first for an immediate performance boost, especially if multitasking grinds your system to a halt.

An SSD upgrade can offer a smoother, quicker experience with the bonus of energy savings. Upgrading RAM provides the biggest productivity punch - but paired SSD benefits shouldn't be overlooked either. When upgrading, bigger is often better than faster.

Reclaim your lost speed and productivity

A zippy computer is your gateway to productivity. Follow these optimization steps and reawaken your PC's speed in 2024. Regular maintenance, timely updates, and smart upgrades will keep you ahead.

Here's to a year where your digital world keeps pace with your ambition. The need for speed awaits - restore yours now! 

Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.

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