How to improve PC performance in Windows 10

Matthew Adams By: Matthew Adams
8 minute read

Home » Windows » How to improve PC performance in Windows 10

Windows and a multitude of third-party software include system optimization tools. Those tools enable you to speed up Windows and fix system errors that might undermine the OS. So to give your desktop or laptop a boost, you should make the most of the system tools in Windows and perhaps some included in additional third-party software as well. This is how you can improve PC performance in Windows 10 primarily with the platform’s own options and tools, but also with a few extra utility programs.

Check RAM Usage and Close Background Processes

RAM is perhaps the most crucial system resource. This is the amount of temporary storage a PC has for software. All software needs at least a little RAM, and lots of open programs and background processes will overstretch system resources. For example, new Windows games are generally the most resource hungry software; and they will run slower when lots of other background programs and processes reduce the amount of free RAM that could otherwise be allocated for the game. Running games with the highest graphical settings, which further depletes RAM, will also slow the gameplay down. Thus, there’s an obvious link between RAM and PC performance.

Consequently, it’s not surprising that some Windows optimization software include RAM optimizes that free up RAM. Although Windows 10 doesn’t include a RAM optimizer, you can still free up lots of RAM by manually closing software and background processes. Don’t forget that disabling browser extensions, apps and plug-ins will also save some RAM. This is how you can check RAM usage and close background processes in Windows with the trusty Task Manager.

  • First, open the Task Manager by right-clicking the taskbar and selecting Task Manager.
  • To check RAM usage, select the Performance tab on the Task Manager window as below. That includes a Memory graph that shows you the amount of RAM in use.

  • To to cut the RAM usage percentage figure down to size, click the Processes tab. That shows you software open on the taskbar and background processes.
  • Now you can select background processes there and press their End task buttons to close them. Do not close the more essential processes listed under Windows processes.
  • Of course, you don’t need any third-party software to close browser extensions and apps; but CCleaner’s Browser Plugin tool lists all Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Opera extensions, plug-ins and apps. You can click Tools > Browser Plugins in CCleaner to open that tool.

  • Now you can quickly switch off browser extensions and apps by selecting them there and clicking Disable or Delete.

Remove Startup Items

You can further save RAM and speed up the Windows 10 startup by removing startup software. Those are programs that open automatically during the Windows startup. This is how you can remove startup items with the Task Manager.

  • Open the Task Manager as before.
  • Now click the Start-up tab to open a list of your startup software as below. Note than in some earlier Windows platforms the startup manager is in MSConfig, which you can open by entering ‘msconfig’ into Run.

  • Select startup items and press their Disable buttons to remove them from the Windows startup.

Speed up the Windows 10 Boot up

If Windows 10 is taking a while to fully boot up, you can speed it up at least a little. Removing startup items will speed up the Windows startup. You can also boost the startup with the Turn on fast startup option and MSconfig tool included in Windows.

  • Press the Win key + X hotkey and select Power Options from the Win X menu to open the Control Panel tab shown below.

  • Click Choose what the power buttons do on the left of the tab.
  • The System Settings tab includes a Turn on fast startup option. If that option is grayed out, select Change settings that are currently unavailable.

  • Now click the Turn on fast startup check box to select that option.
  • Press the Save Changes button to apply the new setting.
  • MSconfig is a handy system tool window you can further configure the Windows startup with. Press the Win key + R keyboard shortcut, enter ‘msconfig’ and click OK to open the window in the shot directly below.

  • You can configure the Windows startup with the General and Boot tabs’ options. For example, the General tab includes a Diagnostic startup setting that loads only the basic devices and services.
  • Click the Boot tab to open the settings shown below. There you can select a No GUI boot option that removes the Windows welcome screen.

  • Press Apply > OK and restart Windows to apply new MSconfig settings.

Adjust the Performance Options

Windows 10 also has a Performance Options window from which you can adjust the platform’s visual effects. The snazzy effects might add a little extra gloss to Windows, but they also need extra system resources. If your desktop or laptop has more limited RAM, maybe you should switch some effects off to speed it up a bit. So this is how you can adjust those settings.

  • Press the Win key + R hotkey, tap in ‘ sysdm.cpl’ and click OK.
  • Click the Advanced tab on System Properties window and press the Settings button to open the window shown in the snapshot directly below.

  • The Visual Effects tab lists all the effects, which will probably be selected by default. Selecting the Adjust for best performance option will deselect all the effect settings.
  • Alternatively, you could select the Custom radio button and manually deselect some, but not, of the effect settings there.
  • Press the Apply and OK buttons to confirm the new settings.

Check for Low Disk Space

Almost every PC optimization utility comes with a hard disk cleaner, and Windows also has its own Disk Clean-up tool to delete junk files with. HDD cleaners are essential tools as overly full hard disks can slow things down. Virtual memory combines RAM and hard disk space, so a really full hard disk restricts the amount of virtual memory. In addition, erasing junk files will also give you more space for software and your own documents, photos, MP3s, videos, etc. This is how you can check for low HDD space and erase junk files with CCleaner, which has better options than the Disk Clean-up tool.

  • To get a basic overview of your HDD space, click the File Explorer button the taskbar.
  • Then select This PC that shows you devices and drives and how much free HDD you have as below.

  • You can use a more detailed disk analyzer tool by adding CCleaner to Windows. Then open that software, click Tools and Disk Analyzer.
  • Now you can select to scan for more specific file categories to see what file formats are taking up the most HDD space. Alternatively, you could just select the Everything check box and press the Analyze button.

  • Click the Cleaner button at the top left of CCleaner to open its HDD cleaner tool.
  • Now you can select to scan for a variety of Windows and third-party software junk files by clicking their corresponding check boxes. As such, CCleaner is much more flexible than the Disk Clean-up tool.
  • Press the Scan button to scan for items to delete. Then CCleaner will show you what it will erase and how much storage space that will save.
  • Press the Run Cleaner button to erase the files.
  • Removing software is the best way to free up HDD space. Click Tools > Uninstall to open CCleaner’s Uninstall manager.
  • Now you can select software there and press the Uninstall button to remove programs.

Run the System File Checker

The System File Checker is a somewhat overlooked maintenance tool that can fix corrupt system files. Thus, it can fix various system errors. You can use the System File Checker by pressing the Win + X hotkey and selecting Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu. Type in ‘sfc /scannow’ and press Enter to launch the scanning, which might take a while.

Run the System Maintenance Troubleshooter

The System Maintenance troubleshooter is another handy tool that can boost PC performance. This deletes unused shortcuts and files and fulfills other maintenance duties. For example, when I ran the tool it fixed troubleshooting history taking up disk space. You can open and run the System Maintenance utility as follows.

  • Open the Troubleshooting tab by entering ‘troubleshooter’ into Cortana’s search box and selecting Troubleshooting.
  • Click View all and then select System Maintenance to open the window below.

  • It’s better to run this as an administrator, so click Advanced and select Run as administrator.
  • Now you can press the Next button to launch the scan.

Update Drives With Third-Party Software

Antiquated drivers can also slow down desktops and laptops, and some hardware devices might not work correctly without the most update drivers. True, Windows Update automatically updates the most essential drivers; but that doesn’t guarantee it will update all of them. As such, you can check and update drivers with the Device Manager in Windows. However, there are also various third-party programs that identify and update outdated drivers.

Driver Booster 4 Free is a decent enough utility that you can update your drivers with more quickly. It supports more than 400,000 devices and drivers, including Intel, Realtek and Nvidia drivers. Click the Free Download button on the software’s web page to add it to Windows. When you launch the software, it performs a scan and shows you any outdated drivers. Then you can press an Update All button to update the antiquated drivers.

Speed up Context Menus

You can also speed up the right-click context menus in Windows with a basic registry tweak. By adjusting the MenuShowDelay string, users can minimize the delay before a context menu opens. By default, that string has 400 milliseconds delay. This is how you can speed up the context menu with Registry Editor.

  • Open the Registry Editor by entering ‘regedit’ into Run.
  • Now browse to this registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop.
  • Double-click MenuShowDelay to open the Edit String window directly below.

  • Erase the default 400 value and enter something like 270.
  • Press the OK button to close the Edit String window.
  • Now you can close the Registry Editor, and right-click the Windows desktop to open the context menu a little quicker than before.

Those are a few of the best ways to optimize Windows for better PC performance. There’s no essential requirement for extra third-party software, but freeware programs such as CCleaner and Drive Booster 4 certainly have better options for deleting junk files and updating drivers. However, Windows 10 already has most of the more essential maintenance tools and options you’ll need.


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