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Post: 18 ways to speed up Windows 10 – Computerworld



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Right-click the OneDrive icon on the right side of the Taskbar and select Settings. Click Advanced settings and scroll down to the Files On-Demand section. Click Free up disk space and select Continue. When you do that, all the files on your PC will be set to online-only, which means they’re only available from OneDrive in the cloud not on your PC. From now on, the first time you want to open one of your files, you’ll have to be online – that is, unless you use the following instructions to make some files available on your PC as well as in the cloud, while you leave others available only in the cloud.

After you click the Continue button, you’ll see OneDrive in a File Explorer window.  For every folder whose files you want kept on your PC, right-click the folder and select Always keep on this device. You can do the same thing for subfolders and individual files.

Later, if you want to have folders, subfolders, or files stored only in OneDrive in the cloud, right-click it in File Explorer, and uncheck the box next to Always keep on this device. You can change the status of folders, subfolders, and files like this whenever you like.

onedrive files on demand

Use this dialog box to turn on OneDrive Files on-Demand

If you change your mind and want all your files stored locally and kept in sync via OneDrive, go back to the “Advanced settings” section of OneDrive settings page, scroll down to the Files On-Demand section and click Download all files.

Note that OneDrive Files On-Demand is available only on Windows 10 version 1709 and higher.

8. Turn off search indexing

Windows 10 indexes your hard disk in the background, allowing you — in theory — to search your PC more quickly than if no indexing were being done. But slower PCs that use indexing can see a performance hit, and you can give them a speed boost by turning off indexing. Even if you have an SSD disk, turning off indexing can improve your speed, because the constant writing to disk that indexing does can eventually slow down SSDs.

To get the maximum benefit in Windows 10, you need to turn indexing off completely. To do so, type services.msc in the Windows search box and press Enter. The Services app appears. Scroll down to either Indexing Service or Windows Search in the list of services. Double-click it, and from the screen that appears, click Stop. Then reboot your machine. Your searches may be slightly slower, although you may not notice the difference. But you should get an overall performance boost.

services and indexing

Here’s how to turn off Windows 10 indexing. (Click image to enlarge it.)

If you’d like, you can turn off indexing only for files in certain locations. To do this, type index in the Windows search box and click the Indexing Options result that appears. The Indexing Options page of the Control Panel appears. Click the Modify button, and you’ll see a list of locations that are being indexed, including Microsoft Outlook, Internet Explorer History, and your hard drive or drives. Uncheck the box next to any location, and it will no longer be indexed. If you’d like to customize what gets indexed and what doesn’t on individual drives, click the down arrow next to any drive and check the box next to what you want indexed and uncheck the box of what you don’t.

9. Clean out your hard disk

If you’ve got a bloated hard disk filled with files you don’t need, you could be slowing down your PC. Cleaning it out can give you a speed boost. Windows 10 has a surprisingly useful built-in tool for doing this called Storage Sense. Go to Settings > System > Storage and at the top of the screen, move the toggle from Off to On. When you do this, Windows constantly monitors your PC and deletes old junk files you no longer need — temporary files, files in the Downloads folder that haven’t been changed in a month, and old Recycle Bin files.

You can customize how Storage Sense works and also use it to free up even more space than it normally would. Underneath Storage Sense, click Configure Storage Sense or run it now. From the screen that appears, you can change how often Storage Sense deletes files (every day, every week, every month or when your storage space gets low).

You can also tell Storage Sense to delete files in your Download folder, depending on how long they’ve been there, and set how long to wait to delete files in the Recycle Bin automatically. You can also have Storage Sense move files from your PC to the cloud in Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage if they’re not opened for a certain amount of time (every day, or every 14 days, 30 days, or 60 days).

win10 storage sense aug2019 IDG

Here’s how to customize the way Storage Sense works, and to tell it to delete old versions of Windows. (Click image to enlarge it.)

10. Clean out your Registry

Under the Windows hood, the Registry tracks and controls just about everything about the way Windows works and looks. That includes information about where your programs are stored, which DLLs they use and share, what file types should be opened by which program, and just about everything else.

But the Registry is a very messy thing. When you uninstall a program, for example, that program’s settings don’t always get cleaned up in the Registry. So over time, it can get filled with countless outdated settings of all types. And that can lead to system slowdowns.

Don’t even think of trying to clean any of this out yourself. It’s impossible. To do it, you need a Registry Cleaner. There are plenty available, some free and some paid. But there’s really no need to outright buy one, because the free Auslogics Registry Cleaner does a solid job.

Before using Auslogics or any other Registry cleaner, you should back up your Registry so you can restore it if anything goes wrong. (Auslogics Registry Cleaner does this for you as well, but it can’t hurt to have it backed up twice.) To do your own Registry backup, type regedit.exe in the search box, then press Enter. That runs the Registry editor. From the File menu, select Export. From the screen that appears, make sure to choose the All option in the “Export range” section at the bottom of the screen. Then choose a file location and file name and click Save. To restore the Registry, open the Registry editor, select Import from the File menu, then open the file you saved.

Now download, install, and run Auslogics Registry Cleaner. On the left-hand side of the screen you can select the kinds of Registry issues you want to clean up — for example, File Associations, Internet, or Fonts. I generally select them all.

auslogics registry cleaner IDG

Auslogics Registry Cleaner scans for and fixes problems in your Windows Registry. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Next, tell it to scan the Registry for problems. To do that, click Scan Now, and from the drop-down menu that appears, select Scan. That lets you first examine the Registry problems it finds. If you instead choose Scan and Resolve, it makes the fixes without you checking them.

It now scans your Registry for errors, then shows you what it found. Uncheck the boxes next to any you don’t want it to fix.  Click Resolve when you’ve made your decision, and make sure that Back Up Changes is checked, so you can restore the Registry easily if something goes wrong. If you want to see details about what it’s done, click View detailed report at the bottom of the screen.

11. Disable shadows, animations, and visual effects

Windows 10 has some nice eye candy — shadows, animations, and visual effects. On fast, newer PCs, these don’t usually affect system performance. But on slower and older PCs, they can exact a performance hit.

It’s easy to turn them off. In the Windows 10 search box, type sysdm.cpl and press Enter. That launches the System Properties dialog box. Click the Advanced tab and click Settings in the Performance section. That brings you to the Performance Options dialog box. You’ll see a varied list of animations and special effects.

performance optionsIDG

The Performance Options dialog box lets you turn off effects that might be slowing down Windows 10. (Click image to enlarge it.)

If you have time on your hands and love to tweak, you can turn individual options on and off. These are the animations and special effects you’ll probably want to turn off, because they have the greatest effect on system performance:

  • Animate controls and elements inside windows
  • Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing
  • Animations in the taskbar
  • Fade or slide menus into view
  • Fade or slide ToolTips into view
  • Fade out menu items after clicking
  • Show shadows under windows

However, it’s probably a lot easier to just select Adjust for best performance at the top of the screen and then click OK. Windows 10 will then turn off the effects that slow down your system.

12. Disable transparency

In addition to turning off shadows, animations, and visual effects, you should also disable the transparency effects that Windows 10 uses for the Start menu, the Taskbar, and the Action Center. It takes a surprising amount of work for Windows to create these transparency effects, and turning them off can make a difference in system performance.

To do it, from Settings, choose Personalization > Colors, scroll down to “Transparency effects” and move the slider to Off.

windows10 colors settings IDG

Turning off Windows 10’s transparency effects can help speed up performance. (Click image to enlarge it.)

13. Update your device drivers

Windows 10 can take a big performance hit if it’s using outdated drivers. Installing the latest ones can go a long way towards speeding it up. Particularly problematic are graphics drivers, so those are the ones you should make sure to update. To do it:

  1. Type devmgmt.msc into the Search box and click the Device Manager icon that appears in the right pane.
  2. Scroll to the Display Adapters entry and click the side-facing arrow to expand it.
  3. Right-click the driver that appears.
  4. From the context menu that appears, select Update driver.
  5. You’ll be asked whether to have Windows search for an updated driver or if you want to find one and install it manually. Your best bet is to let Windows do the work. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the driver.
windows10 update drivers IDG

Updating your device drivers with the Device Manager can give Windows 10 a speed boost. (Click image to enlarge it.)

You can do this to update all your drivers, not just graphics-related ones. It can take a while to do that one by one using the Device Manager, so you might want to use Windows Update to do it for you instead.

  1. Launch the Settings app and select Update & Security > Windows Update.
  2. Select Advanced Options > View optional updates > Driver updates. A list of all driver updates that Windows has found but hasn’t installed appears.
  3. Select any of the drivers you want to install and click Download & Install.
windows10 additional drivers IDG

Windows Update finds drivers you might want to update. (Click image to enlarge it.)

14. Turn on automated Windows maintenance

Every day, behind the scenes, Windows 10 performs maintenance on your PC. It does things like security scanning and performing system diagnostics to make sure everything is up to snuff — and automatically fixes problems if it finds them. That makes sure your PC runs at peak performance. By default, this automatic maintenance runs every day at 2:00 a.m., as long as your device is plugged into a power source and is asleep.

There’s a chance, though, that the feature has been accidentally turned off or you haven’t had your PC plugged in for a while, so the maintenance hasn’t been done. You can make sure it’s turned on and runs every day, and run it manually if you’d like.

Run the Control Panel app and select System and Security > Security and Maintenance. In the Maintenance section, under Automatic Maintenance, click “Start maintenance” if you want it to run now. To make sure that it runs every day, click “Change maintenance settings,” and from the screen that appears, select the time you’d like maintenance to run, and check the box next to “Allow scheduled maintenance to wake up my computer at the scheduled time.” Then click OK.

win10 automatic maintenance aug2019 IDG

You can designate a time each day for Windows to run its maintenance tasks. (Click image to enlarge it.)

15. Kill bloatware

Sometimes the biggest factor slowing down your PC isn’t Windows 10 itself, but bloatware or adware that takes up CPU and system resources. Adware and bloatware are particularly insidious because they may have been installed by your computer’s manufacturer. You’d be amazed at how much more quickly your Windows 10 PC can run if you get rid of it.

First, run a system scan to find adware and malware. If you’ve already installed a security suite such as Norton Security or McAfee LiveSafe, you can use that. You can also use Windows 10’s built in anti-malware app — just type windows security in the search box, press Enter, and then select Virus & threat protection > Quick Scan. Windows Defender will look for malware and remove any it finds.

It’s a good idea to get a second opinion, though, so consider a free tool like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. The free version scans for malware and removes what it finds; the paid version offers always-on protection to stop infections in the first place.

malwarebytes anti malware IDG

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a useful application that will scan for and fix Windows 10 PC problems. (Click image to enlarge it.)

Now you can check for bloatware and get rid of it. A good program to do that is PC Decrapifier. And Should I Remove It? is a website that offers advice on what files may be malware or bloatware.

For more details about removing bloatware, check out Computerworld’s article “Bloatware: What it is and how to get rid of it.

16. Defrag your hard disk

The more you use your hard disk, the more it can become fragmented, which can slow down your PC. When a disk gets fragmented, it stores files willy-nilly across it, and it takes a while for Windows to put them together before running them.

Windows 10, though, has a built-in defragmenter you can use to defragment your hard disk. You can even tell it to run automatically so it stays constantly defragmented.

To do it, type defrag into the search box and press Enter. From the screen that appears, select the drive you want you want to defragment. Click the Optimize button to defragment it. Select multiple disks by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking each one you want to defragment.

If you want to have your disk or disks defragmented automatically, click the Change settings button, then check the box next to Run on a schedule. Now select the frequency at which you want the disk(s) defragmented by clicking the drop-down next to Frequency and selecting Daily, Weekly, or Monthly. (Weekly will be your best bet.) From this screen you can also choose multiple drives to defragment.

Note: If you have an SSD, defragging won’t offer any noticeable performance boost, and it could cause wear on the disk. So it’s not worth your while to defrag SSDs.

win10 defrag aug2019 IDG

You can set Windows 10’s built-in disk defragmenter to run automatically on a schedule. (Click image to enlarge it.)

17. Disable Game Mode

If you’re a serious gamer, you probably know all about Game Mode, which optimizes your PC for playing games. That’s great for when you’re doing just that, but it can slow down your system when you’re not playing because it keeps some system resources in reserve in case you start playing a game and has occasionally been linked to stability issues. So turning off Game Mode can give your PC a quick boost. (You can always turn it back on again when you want to play a game.)

Game Mode is turned on by default, so even if you’ve never played a game on your PC, it’s probably enabled. To turn it off, go to Settings > Gaming > Game Mode and move the Game Mode slider to Off.

windows10 game mode controls IDG

Turning off Game Mode can give your PC an instant boost. (Click image to enlarge it.)

18. Shut down and restart Windows

Here’s one of IT’s not-quite-secret weapons for troubleshooting and speeding up a PC: Shut it down and restart it. Doing that clears out any excess use of RAM that otherwise can’t be cleared. It also kills processes that you might have set in motion and are no longer needed, but that continue running and slow your system. If your Windows 10 PC has turned sluggish over time for no apparent reason, you may be surprised at how much more quickly it will run when you do this.

Try just some of these tricks, and you’ll find that you’ve got a faster Windows 10 PC — and one that is less likely to have any reliability problems.

This article was originally published in February 2016 and most recently updated in December 2023.

Lora Helmin

Lora Helmin

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