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How To Speed Up Windows 10 (A 2020 Guide)

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The Windows Operating System (OS) is the most popular end-user OS in the desktop/laptop ecosystem, accounting for over 87% of the market.

With its current stable version being the Windows 10, it boasts of over 1 billion active installations and keeps being improved with better touch-screen support, seamless gaming experiences and mixed-reality tools.

Despite such improvements, several computers still suffer from performance issues. This tutorial would guide you on how to speed up Windows 10 on your device for improved productivity. Here’s an overview on tweaks we’d be implementing:

  1. Disabling Background Apps
  2. Disabling Apps Launching at Startup
  3. Cleaning device’s storage
  4. Tweaking visual effects and Disabling Transparency
  5. Defragging the Hard Disk Drive (HDD)
  6. Automating Windows Maintenance, and
  7. Disabling OneDrive Background Sync

Not to worry, we’ve provided detailed images along the way to guide you.

1. Disabling Background Apps

In Windows 10, there are certain installed or pre-installed apps which perform certain actions while they aren’t being actively used. They do so for a reason, such as checking for updates. As a result, they use your computer’s resources (RAM, CPU and battery), and sometimes, your internet data. This might have an impact on your computer’s performance depending on the number of available system resources. To disable them:

a. Launch the Settings app (the Windows key + I) and click on Privacy.

b. Scroll through the fixed sidebar and select ‘Background Apps’ and turn off the toggle icon for apps you wish to stop from running in the background.

Note: To stop all apps from running in the background at once, turn off the toggle switch for the Let apps run in the background section.

2. Disabling Apps Launching at Startup

Certain apps automatically launch as soon as you boot up your device. Depending on the available system resources, they can slow down the duration it takes to boot up Windows 10.

To disable them:

a. Launch Settings and select Apps.

b. Click on Startup (located at the sidebar) and click the Sort by dropdown, and select the Startup Impact option. Turn off those that aren’t a priority for you and those labelled as High Impact ( in this case, they haven’t been measured).

3. Uninstalling Unused Apps

Windows 10 comes packed with a collection of pre-installed apps and most of them are hardly used. To speed up Windows 10’s performance, you should consider uninstalling those that you’re sure you don’t or rarely use, including those you installed yourself. To uninstall them:

a. Launch the Settings app and select Apps.

b. Click on Apps and Features.

c. Scroll through and select the apps you want to uninstall and click the Uninstall button.

4. Optimising Power Plans

There are three available power plans on Windows 10 to control your device’s power usage. They’re Balanced, Power Saver, and High Performance. To allow your computer to perform better, but at the expense of battery consumption, you should select the High Performance option. To select:

a. Launch the Control Panel.

Here are several ways to open the Control Panel in Windows 10.

b. Click on Hardware and Sound.

c. Select Power Options and click the Show additional plans dropdown. Then select the High Performance plan (If you can’t find that option, follow this guide).

For laptops, this setting is crucial as it determines how intensive your computer would run on the available battery level. If your laptop is plugged in, you should select the High Performance option, and Power Saver if your device is unplugged. If running on the Power Saver plan makes your device slow, you should consider selecting the Balanced plan. To make this easier:

a. Select the Battery icon at the taskbar.

b. Move the slider towards Better Battery when unplugged, slide towards the Best Performance option when plugged in, and leave at Better Performance if the earlier slows down your device.

5. Cleaning The Device’s Storage

Having a drive (HDD or SSD) congested with files and running low on space is detrimental and can slow down your device’s performance. This is noticeable when 70% of the storage space is filled up.

On Windows 10, the Storage Sense feature is an optimal medium to prevent storage from affecting a device’s performance by deleting unnecessary files. Here’s how to achieve that:

a. Launch the Settings app and click on System.

b. Move to the Storage option. Under Local Disk, select the Temporary Files option (If you can’t locate it, click the Show More Categories option).

c. Select the files you wish to delete (It’s recommended you leave the Downloads option unchecked as it contains every file in your Downloads folder).

d. Click the Remove Files button.

6. Tweaking Windows 10 Visual Effects and Disabling Transparency

No doubt, the Windows 10 User Interface (UI) is pretty impressive especially the smooth fonts, shadows, and animations. If you use a low-end computer, this can be a drawback and disabling them should give you a performance boost. Here’s how:

a. Launch the Run command window using the (Win key and R) combo.

b. Type sysdm.cpl into the search box and click Ok.

c. The System Properties window then launches.

d. Head over to the Advanced tab and select Settings under the Performance box.

e. Select the Adjust for best performance option and click Apply.

f. If you aren’t satisfied with the way it turns out, select Custom and uncheck the following options:

  • 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

g. Click Apply, and then OK.

7. Defragging the Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

Most times, when files are stored on the hard disk, they’re broken into pieces and spread around to fit in. This process is known as Disk Fragmentation, making it longer to process. To speed things up, you should run the in-built defragmentation tool. up This method would be ineffective if you use a Solid State Drive (SSD). To run it:

a. Head over to the Settings app.

b. Click on System and select the Storage option.

c. Scroll to the bottom and under More storage settings, click on the Optimize Drives option.

d. Select the Hard disk drive from the list and click Optimize.

8. Activate ReadyBoost

Windows 10 stores cache data on your hard disk regularly and retrieves it when needed. The rate of responsiveness for it to be retrieved depends on the speed of your HDD. To make the process quicker, you should enable the Windows ReadyBoost feature.

Windows ReadyBoost makes use of a removable drive as cache memory to speed up your Windows 10 device’s performance. You’d need a USB flash drive with a free storage capacity of at least 500MB. Here’s how to enable it:

a. Launch the File Explorer (Win Key + E).

b. From the sidebar, click on This PC.

c. Right-click on the USB flash drive and select Properties and click on the ReadyBoost tab.

If you receive an error message stating “This device cannot be used for ReadyBoost”, here’s a detailed guide to fix it.

d. Select Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost. Hit Apply and then OK.

9. Other Ways To Speed Up Windows 10

Here are other ways you can speed up your Windows 10 device:

  • Updating your device drivers
  • Restarting your computer
  • Updating Windows 10 to it’s latest stable release
  • Upgrading your device’s RAM, and
  • Switch to an SSD

In Conclusion

After carefully following the provided steps above, you should notice a huge bump in your device’s performance. If you encounter errors while following them, please let us know in the comment section and we’d help right away.

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Joseph David is a FrontEnd Developer and Technical Writer at CloudiAfrica
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