cIf you’ve ever asked yourself “How do I speed up my computer for free?”, this article is for you. You don’t need to spend money to improve computer speed. Optimize Windows for performance to get a better gaming experience and save your money. While this document is meant for gamers, several of the tips would work for computers that are not used for gaming.

 

Why is My Computer Slow?

Have you ever had a computer that was fast when you bought it but it then slowed down over time? There are several reasons that can explain this. Here are a few:

  1. There are too many programs loading automatically when the computer boots.
  2. The software you’re running now is more demanding than the software you were running when you bought the computer. Eg. The Operating System, games and other software.
  3. Windows is not optimized properly for performance
  4. Bugs in applications or Windows
  5. Drivers are out of date
  6. A background program is incompatible with the foreground application(s)
  7. The hardware is inadequate

 

How Do I Speed Up My Computer?

The problem of a slow computer can have software or hardware solutions.

 

Software Solutions

Before doing something that costs money, it would make sense to attempt a software solution. There are countless sites with tips claiming to answer the question “How do I speed up my computer for free?” Many of those tips are very obscure. They might produce performance boosts that are only measurable in a lab and don’t result in real-world noticeable improvements. In this list I have only included tips that can make a noticeable difference. Some of the tips below come with step-by-step instructions. These instructions are for gamers who are running Windows 7 or Windows 10. Go through the following sections in the order listed.

 

Reinstall the Game

If your game is running slowly, the cause might be the game as opposed to hardware or some aspect of Windows. Sometimes, installing a program can corrupt installations of other programs so unless the game was the last program you installed, reinstall it.

 

Download Game Patch From Developer

If you ever have trouble with a game, the first thing you should always do (after re-installation if necessary) is to check to see if the developer has released a patch and download what you find. Actually, you should check for this immediately after installing a game, before playing it for the first time.

 

Download Driver Updates

Updating drivers has been known to improve performance. Check for and download sound and video driver updates if they exist.

 

Download Windows Updates

Your problem might be resolved by downloading Windows updates so try that next.

 

Disable Unnecessary Start-up Programs
Your computer has a finite amount of memory. The more programs your computer has in memory, the slower your computer runs. When you install software, its installation program often configures windows so that the new software, or a part of the new software, loads automatically when the computer boots. Configuring Windows to load the software automatically often happens without your knowledge. That means that every time you install a program, you might be slowing your computer down a little bit more. It doesn’t matter how many programs are installed on the hard drive. What’s important is how many of them are loading automatically.

Windows 10:

  1. Press Ctrl+Alt, Delete
  2. Point your mouse pointer to “Task Manager” and click it
  3. Click the Startup tab – fourth from the right. The window will
    appear as shown on the right
  4. Expand the “Startup Item” and “Command” columns so you can see the entries in each column
  5. You will see a list of programs. Each program has a status of “Enabled” or “Disabled”. Any program with a status of “Enabled” is loaded automatically when the computer starts. Look through the list. If you see programs you don’t need to load automatically that have a status of “Enabled”, right-click each program and select “Disabled”. If you see programs you don’t recognize, use google to search for information on them and then decide if you want to load them automatically.

 

About Start MenuWindows 7:

  1. Click the Windows logo at bottom left. The cursor appears in a text box with the message “Search programs and files” as shown on the right.
  2. Type “msconfig” without the quotes and press Enter to load the System Configuration window
  3. Click the Startup tab – second from the right. The window will
    appear as shown on the right
  4. Expand the “Startup Item” and “Command” columns so you can see the entries in each column
  5. You will see a list of programs. At the far left of each line is a checkbox. If a box is checked, it means the program on that line is being loaded automatically. If a box is not checked, it means the program on that line is not loading automatically. How many boxes do you have checked?
  6. Look through the list under the Startup Item column. If you see programs you don’t need to load automatically, uncheck them. If you see programs you don’t recognize, use google to search for information on them and then decide if you want to load them automatically.

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Disable Visual Effects
Windows uses many visual effects that make Windows look better but they slow down the computer. Pictured on the right is the “Performance Options” window in Windows 10. The corresponding window in Windows 7 is very similar.

Windows 10 and Windows 7:

  1. If you are using Windows 10
    1. Type “Control Panel” into the search bar next to the Windows 10 logo. “Control Panel app” should appear in a list above the search bar
    2. Press Enter or click Control Panel app to open the Control Panel window
    3. Near the top right of the window, set “View by:” to Category
    4. Click “System and Security” at the top of the left column
    5. Click System (3rd from the top)
  2. If you are using Windows 7
    1. Right-click “Computer” on the desktop or click the Windows logo at the bottom left and right-click Computer in the Start menu
    2. Select “Properties”
  3. Click “Advanced system settings” near the top left of the window to display the Advanced tab in the “System Properties” window
  4. Click “Settings” in the “Performance” section  to load the “Performance Options” window.
  5. This is a list of visual effects sorted in alphabetical order based on the first word in each line. The more effects you have running, the slower your computer will be.
  6. If you are using windows 10
    1. You can disable all effects with minimal change to the appearance of Windows 10. Do this by clicking “Adjust for best performance” above the list of options
  7. If you are using Windows 7
    1.  If you want you can disable all effects by clicking “Adjust for best performance” above the list of options but if you do this, your desktop will be a little ugly.  I disable all but the following three
      1.  Enable Desktop Composition
      2.  Enable Transparent Glass
      3.  Use visual styles on windows and buttons
  8. Do not close this window by clicking OK. Leave the window open and then move on to the next section

 

 

Increase Virtual Memory

If your computer doesn’t have enough virtual memory, you will experience performance problems. Click here for instructions on how to increase virtual memory. You can ignore the first 3 instructions as you have already done them. Perform the instruction on step 4 – “Click the Advanced tab” – and then continue from there.

 

 

Reduce Background Programs to Minimum and Disable Anti-virus
Icons in the bottom right, next to the time, refer to small programs that run in the background. Your computer loads certain programs automatically as you saw in the System Configuration. If you’re experiencing problems with a game, there might be a specific background program that is incompatible with your game. Sometimes anti-virus programs cause problems. You can temporarily disable background programs that are causing problems for a game.

Windows 10 and Windows 7:

  1. Go to the icons in the bottom right, next to the time
  2. Click the up-pointing arrow at the far left of the icons to reveal hidden icons
  3. Exit all programs except those that are essential for gaming. Usually, you do this by right-clicking an icon and selecting “Exit”, “Quit” or “Disable”. This includes the anti-virus, unless you are playing an online game in which case you should keep it running.
  4. When you reboot, all programs set to load automatically – in the System Configuration if you are using Windows 7 or the Task Manager if you are using Windows 10 – will be loaded and their icons will return to the bottom right.

 

Appearance in Windows 10:

Note the up-pointing arrow at the far left of the icons. Clicking it reveals hidden icons.

 

 

 

Appearance in Windows 7:

Note the up-pointing arrow at the far left of the icons. Clicking it reveals hidden icons.

 

 

 

 

Set Power Plan to High Performance
If you’re using Windows 7 or later, you have access to something called the “High Performance Power Plan”. The default power plan is “Balanced” but you can change it to “High Performance” if you want. It will push the computer harder thereby increasing its performance. However, the result of the computer being pushed harder is that the computer’s fans have to run at full speed to prevent the computer from over-heating which means the computer will be louder.

Windows 10 and Windows 7:

  1. If you are using Windows 10
    1. Type “Control Panel” into the search bar next to the Windows 10 logo. Before you finish typing, it should appear
    2. Press Enter or click Control Panel to load it
  2. If you are using Windows 7
    1. Click the Start button
    2. Click “Control Panel”
  3. Near the top right of the window, set “View by:” to “Category”
  4. Click “Hardware and Sound” in the left column
  5. Click on “Power Options”
  6. There are three power plans: “Balanced”, “Power Saver” and “High Performance”. If you don’t see High Performance, click “Show additional plans”.
  7. Select “High Performance” as shown on the right
  8. Click the X in the corner to close the window (There’s no OK button)

 

 

Scan for viruses

You have now nearly completed all non-game solutions. The only thing left to do is scan for viruses. It’s possible your problem is caused by a virus or some other type of malware so perform a thorough scan of your hard drive. Avast is a free but comprehensive anti-virus program and one that I recommend.

 

 

Adjust Greaphics Settings

Now that you have gone through all non-game tips to improve performance, load the game and set graphics settings to their minimum. Play while gradually increasing the graphics settings until you find the highest settings your video card can support. If you’re not satisfied with these graphics settings, upgrade your hardware. See “Upgrade Hardware to Improve Performance” in the “General Tips” menu for more information or click here to go there now.

 

 

6 Responses

  1. Charlotte

    Being a PC gamer requires more action. I wish I seen this earlier because my mates computer needed some speeding up. Instead I shared this to him. He will need it. And your right.. other sites we went on just bounced around how to fix it instead of just telling us how to do it.

  2. Alex

    Awesome article, I learned a lot about some of the problems that might affect me when gaming and how to solve them.

    I’m definitely going to be referring back to this page for the next game I install.

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