Optimize Microsoft Windows 10

Computers may operate slow due to various reasons; this article focuses on computer performance (not slow browsing speed or Internet or network speeds). This article is only an outline and if you run into issues at a particular stage, you may require deeper expertise to identify & solve the problem.

General causes:

  1. Not turned off at all for long periods like several weeks.
  2. Too many applications running at the same time.
  3. Too many Windows within a single application.
  4. Too many programs in the background.
  5. Some Anti-virus software may cause issues.
  6. Presence of malware (infected operating system).
  7. Insufficient Memory, Disk Space.
  8. Slow processor.

Microsoft Windows includes several tools and utilities for troubleshooting; following procedures may help in solving specific issues such as:

  1. Performance problems
  2. Freezing or unresponsive during usage
  3. Artifacts
  4. Errors during application installations

Sections:

1. Verify System Requirements
2. Disable unwanted applications / services
3. Optimize drive(s)
4. Check for Malware
5. Upgrade Hardware
6. Remove unwanted applications
7. Remove temporary files & residual files

Part I

1. Verify System Requirements

Every operating system requires specific level of hardware to run smoothly; although there are guidelines available for minimum or recommended requirements, actual requirements must be considered based on a) operating system requirements & b) application specific requirements (not just the operating system requirements alone).

It is recommended to “estimate” hardware requirements based on the applications that you will use; for example, simple applications such as Office Suite, Web Browsers, Email Clients, etc. may run smoothly on a computer equipped with moderate hardware (Dual Core CPU, 2 GB RAM, etc.) while resource hungry applications such as Photo editing software, Video Rendering tools, etc. will require much powerful underlying hardware (like Quad Core, 8 GB RAM, etc.).

a. View Microsoft Windows 10 System Requirements.

b. Check computer specifications:

You may use the Task Manager utility to view processor & memory usage by applications (and some parts of operating system).

  • START > RUN > TASKMGR
  • Select “Performance” Tab. Observe values under CPU & Memory Sections.

In this case currently 1.2 GB is available. Observe the value “1 of 2” under “Slots used:”, which indicates you may add another 4 GB of RAM to this computer (if required) as one more memory slot is empty.

Select “Details” tab.

You can sort CPU or Memory usage to understand the executable(s) that take most part of processor and/or memory usage. You may observe processes with similar names, which is a mix of parent and child processes but have different process identifiers (marked as PID).

2. Disable unwanted applications / services

There are many software which are designed to initiate along with the operating systems, which may use memory:

A. Anti-Virus initiate before all other programs in order to protect the computer from being infected by viruses and/or malware.
B. Shortcuts for managing Display/Sound may be included during startup for easier access. In most cases such application shortcuts are NOT required and video/audio features will still work otherwise (You have to launch the application shortcut manually if you need to access those settings).
C. Some 3rd party software adds shortcuts for easier access or for specific purposes.

Unless they are critical like the anti-virus, these software can be disabled resulting in improved boot & load times.

Tip: Also referred to as “Clean Boot”, disabling most startup applications (except anti-virus) & non-essential services can help you solve several errors; you can enable each startup item one-by-one to identify, troubleshoot and fix most issues. You may have to disable the anti-virus, if the issue is with the anti-virus itself.

A. START > RUN > TASKMGR
B. Select Startup Tab

C. From the list, Right-click a program

D. Select “Disable” to prevent the executable to be loaded during normal startup.
E. Repeat the process to disable all programs.
F. Restart the computer.

Note: It is recommended to keep the Anti-Virus software enabled.

Disabling programs through Startup tab doesn’t remove any software, rather disables them from being loaded during Startup improving startup time. Use the table below to track:

Before

After

Boot Time

 

Boot Time

 

Logon Time

 

Logon Time

 
  1. Boot Time – Time taken before logon.
  2. Logon Time – Time taken after logon.

Services are executable(s) that run in the background and doesn’t require user interaction. For example, a software may be designed to update itself time-to-time without user interaction. Disabling 3rd party services does NOT uninstall the software.

A. START > RUN > MSCONFIG & Select Services Tab

B. Select “Hide all Microsoft services”

Note: Services listed here include both essential (operating system related) and optional items (3rd party related); make sure “Hide all Microsoft Services” is checked, this is to make sure essential & critical system services are NOT touched.

Note: It is recommended to keep services related to Anti-Virus software enabled.

C. Select “Disable all” & Select “Apply” & “OK”
D. Restart the computer

 

Before

After

Boot Time

 

Boot Time

 

Logon Time

 

Logon Time

 

3. Optimize drive(s)

Defragmenting improves read / write speeds.

A. START > RUN > EXPLORER
B. Right-Click C:\, Select Properties
C. Select Tools tab

Note: Optimization may take several hours, it is recommended to run this activity over night.

D. Select “Optimize”

E. Select “Optimize”

Depending on fragments, this process can take minutes to hours. It is recommended to complete this process overnight or, at a time when you are not going to use the computer for a long time.

4. Check for Malware

Malware (or Computer virus) refers to programs that cause specific actions to the computer depending on the way it is programmed; malware may cause performance problems. You may use the following links to download and scan the computer for possible infection:

Note: Depending the complexity of the infection, you may need support from an expert.

5. Upgrade Hardware

You may be able to upgrade hardware component on some computers:

a. You can install additional memory modules on some laptops, all-in-ones & most desktop computers. for example, most laptops have 2 memory slots but filled with one module of 2 GB RAM (while the laptop may support 4 GB RAM or higher).
b. You can replace HDD with SSD, improving overall performance. You can add SSD in addition to HDD’s on most desktop computers, but you may be able to replace HDD with SSD on most laptops (due to space constraints, there is only one slot for HDD or SSD on most laptops).
c. You can add PCIe NVMe M.2, to improve performance significantly. You can use NVMe in addition to HDD and/or SSD. Not all laptops or motherboards have PCIe NVMe as it is fairly a new technology. You can add PCI-E x1 to M.2 NVMe SSD Expansion Card, if the motherboard has adequate support.
d. You can perform an firmware update, which may increase performance of computers (or firmware upgrades will solve a glitch which in turn may solve a performance issue).
e. You may be able to replace CPU + Motherboard + RAM on most desktop computers, but not on all laptops (it’s very rare or, it will turnout to be expensive when possible).

Note: You can confirm the chances of upgrade only by referring to the product manual or the technical specification of a motherboard or the laptop.

Part II

If you have insufficient storage space, then you can consider removing unused software and residues to reclaim disk space. Some vendors “bundle” software (free or paid) that you do not require and they may be removed.

6. Remove unwanted applications

A. START > RUN > CONTROL > PROGRAMS & FEATURES

B. Sort by Size, to view software that occupies most space
C. Select and uninstall unwanted software
D. Restart if required

Before

After

Disk Space

 

Disk Space

 

7. Remove temporary files & residual files

Operating systems & most software creates & removes temporary files automatically (for internal purposes); these files are usually located in specific locations like “C:\Windows\Temp”,  “%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Temp” and so on. You may notice a large amount of disk space occupied by these files, particularly on computers that were used for a long time without proper maintenance. You can use the Disk Cleanup utility to remove these files (safer method, than to remove them manually).

A. START > RUN > CLEANMGR
B. Select C: Drive (for example). Re-run CLEANMGR to select other drives later.

C. Select OK
D. Select items to be removed (take extra caution as they cannot be recovered).

E. Select “Delete Files”, Select “OK”
F. Repeat by selecting different drives (C:\, D:\, etc. If you have multiple partitions & drives).

Before

After

Disk Space

 

Disk Space

 

Advanced (Optional), Part I

Besides you can remove residues of Windows update, Cache files, etc.

A.START > RUN > CLEANMGR
B.Select OK
C.Select Clean up system files.

D, Select Items and Select “OK” (Cannot be recovered).

Before

After

Disk Space

 

Disk Space

 

Advanced (Optional), Part II

You can remove restore points (restore points are created by the System Restore, a feature of Microsoft Windows) and Shadow Copies (another feature to keep copies of files) to reclaim disk space.

A. START > RUN > CLEANMGR
B. Select OK
C. Select Clean up system files
D. Select “More Options” Tab
E. Select “Clean Up…” under System Restore and Shadow Copies.

F. Select Delete (All backup related to System Restore & Shadow Copies will be removed).

Note: You can use the System Restore utility to view restore points (START > RUN > RSTRUI).

Before

After

Disk Space

 

Disk Space

 

Procedure is almost same for computers that operate with Microsoft Windows 8 & 8.1. You can refer to this link for system requirements.

 

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