How to speed up your computer or laptop

How to speed up your computer or laptop

Why do machines always throw a tantrum when you are in a hurry? It’s called Murphy’s Law which some people may know as the butter side down rule. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And usually at a time when it is most inconvenient.

That being said, there are ways to speed things up. Let’s have a look at some options to fix slow computers.

Why is my PC so slow all of a sudden?

If the speed change is sudden, your first port of call should be to run a malware scan. Malwarebytes  can help with this. If your scan finds any threats then remove them from your computer and restart the system.

My PC is gradually slowing

Malware isn’t always the reason for a slow system. If the slowdown has been a gradual process, there may be other factors at play.

In these cases there are three main vectors to tackle speeding up a computer:

  • Hardware
  • Installed software
  • Operating system

Replacing hardware

Modern computers consist of many components that have to work well together. The speed at which your computer operates varies according to the speeds of its individual components. There may be a component that is acting as a bottleneck and replacing it may be the key to success.

Replacing hardware can be an expensive way to speed up your computer, especially since many users will have to outsource the replacement. The computer parts that have the biggest influence on the system’s speed are:

  • Memory. Computer memory is where data is processed and the instructions required for processing are stored. Upgrading or adding memory can have immediate results and is usually not very hard to do.
  • CPU. The central processing unit is the most important chip in your system and has a big influence on speed. Both the processor cores and the clock speed are important to consider when you are looking for speed. Keep in mind that a degrading CPU cooling system can also be a speed limiter.
  • Hard drives. The read/write speed of a hard drive is the factor that has the biggest influence on your overall speed. Due to technical differences, HDDs (hard-disk drives) cannot compete with SSDs (solid state drives) on speed. A SSD will decrease application loading times, so if you have one of each in your system install your operating system on the SSD.
  • Video cards. A video card or graphics card generates the video signal that gets sent to a computer display. At the moment these are in short supply which makes them costly.


Uninstalling software that you no longer use can free up storage space and memory. Go over your list of installed programs/apps and uninstall those that you never use anymore. These may include trial versions of software that came with the computer when you bought it, out-of-date antivirus programs, old software, and games that you no longer play.

For the software that you use on a regular basis, check if you are using the most current version. Improvements may have been made, and security vulnerabilities fixed, so checking for updates for the ones you use frequently may help as well.

The Operating System

Operating Systems like Windows are designed to satisfy the needs of a great variety of users. Unfortunately that means that your Windows system is running apps and services that you may never need. There are lists  of services that may people don’t need. Remember the changes you made or create a restore point before starting, so you can go back if you need to.

Like with other software it, is important to keep your OS up to date, even if it hardly ever helps improve your speed.

Don’t make it worse by installing PUPs

Registry cleaners, defragmentation software, and other “speed up” utilities turn out to be potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) more often than they are useful.

Many of these programs clean up less than what you introduced to the system by installing them. They are known to use built-in Windows utilities to do the actual work, so you are basically installing a user interface rather than something useful. Others lure you into buying them by showing large amounts of results, that have almost no influence on your system’s speed, or don’t even exist at all.

Likewise, there are many PUPs that promise to perform a disk cleanup to remove unnecessary files to gain some free disk space. Installing such a program usually takes more disk space than it will free up and it’s better if youdecide which files are unnecessary. There are some good guides  for this. Personal experience tip: if you have a lot of pictures on your system, consider moving them to an external drive.

Other tips

If you are in the habit of letting your computer run for a long time, it may help to reboot more often. Restarting your PC clears out its memory. It also closes all the programs that are running, including those running in the background.

Delete temporary files and empty your recycle bin. When your hard drive memory is full, it slows your computer down because the operating system doesn’t have enough free space to work adequately.

Windows indexes your hard disk for speedier searching, but background indexing can slow down your computer’s overall performance. If your PC is dragging its heels, consider disabling this feature.

Too many icons on your desktop are almost as annoying as too many browser tabs open. They not only make it hard to find what you need, but they also slow down operations.


Pieter Arntz

Malware Intelligence Researcher

Was a Microsoft MVP in consumer security for 12 years running. Can speak four languages. Smells of rich mahogany and leather-bound books.