Performance Issues

This is a guide for Windows. If you are using Mac or Linux, see Cleaning your Storage Drive.

This guide can also help fix issues with your computer, such as if it’s behaving strangely.

First, try the basic tips. If they don’t help, or you know you have a specific problem, see the slowdown fix section.

Basic performance increasing tips

These tips will almost always help performance. It’s a good idea to run through these steps on any new computer. At worst, the difference can be insignificant, at best, your computer is now much faster.

Disable “Fast Startup” and Hibernation

By default, shutting down your computer actually puts it in a pseudo-hibernation state. Many problems that can be fixed by “turning it off and on again” aren’t fixed by hibernating your computer. Disabling these options makes your computer shut down fully when you turn it off, which makes your computer cold boot each time, causing it to run with better performance.

Additionally, it makes it easier to access your computer’s files when it is off, such as when using recovery media.

  • Go to Power Options either by clicking on the power indicator or by searching for Power Options in the Start menu.
  • While you are here, ensure that “High Performance” power plan is selected.
  • On the left, click “Choose what the power buttons do” and then click “Change settings currently unavailable”.
  • Uncheck “Fast Startup (recommended)” and Hibernation and Save Changes.
  • Also open an administrator command prompt and run powercfg -h off.
  • Reboot your computer for the changes to take effect.

Disable Startup Items

Many programs want to launch when the computer boots. As new software is downloaded and installed, it often adds a new entry to the list of startup programs. This will slow down the computer when you power it on, because it starts all of those programs when the computer starts, instead of just when you need them.

Disabling startup items just prevents these programs from running when your computer starts, you can still run them yourself just fine.

In a nutshell: Less stuff running in the background = Less slowness = Better performance.

  • Open Task manager -> Startup -> Disable everything that you don’t want to turn on when your PC does.
  • Open msconfig -> Services -> Hide Microsoft Services. Disable everything that you don’t want.

Clean and Optimize your disk

Your drive stores your OS and files and it is important that it can access them efficiently. The physical layout of files on your drive affects how fast they can be accessed.

To ensure your drive stays fast, do not let your drive get over 2/3 or so full.

Please head over to Cleaning your Storage Drive for steps and more information, then come back here.

Remove Unused Programs and Bloatware

It’s a good idea to just outright remove old and unused programs, which otherwise take up disk space and potentially other resources if they auto-start in the background.

This includes any unused software that came with your computer. Computer manufacturers are paid by software creators to install their software, usually with the intention of getting people to buy it later. This is often referred to as “Bloatware” and they should be removed.

  • In CCleaner, the program we installed in the last section, go to Tools -> Uninstall. Select any software you don’t want and click Uninstall.
  • Alternatively, do the same thing from Windows’ built-in “Programs and Features” menu.

Shrink or Disable the Page File

Don’t do this if your system has a low amount of RAM, but otherwise this is a good thing to do.

The page file is a disk cache of your RAM. Your disk is much slower than RAM and so any programs moved to the page file will run much slower. Disabling it prevents this from happening, while shrinking just encourages it to use the disk less, increasing performance.

SSDs are faster than traditional hard disks, but it’s even more important to disable the page file on SSDs because SSDs have a limited amount of “block-writes”. RAM, or Random Access Memory, has a tendency to be, well, randomly accessed and written to, which is bad for SSD lifespan. Modern operating systems will use the RAM as SSD cache when they detect an SSD in order to prevent constant writing of blocks, so the inverse of this is, using the SSD as RAM cache, obviously bad.

(side note about SSD lifespan: Some software still have bugs that cause significant reduction of SSD lifespan, most notably Spotify and Mozilla Firefox).

If you are running out of RAM, consider buying more or closing programs.

  • Right-click This PC (or Computer) -> Properties -> Advanced system settings -> Performance -> Settings… -> Advanced tab.
  • Virtual memory -> Change… -> Uncheck “Automatically manage…” -> No paging file **OR** Make the size small (probably <1 GB) -> Set -> Apply.
  • Repeat for all your drives then click Ok -> Ok -> Reboot your computer.

Fixes for Slowdown Issues

This section shows how to fix critical problems that can destroy your computer’s performance. Most of these are uncommon and/or extremely noticeable when you do have them (for example, advertisements opening randomly is a good indication that you have a virus).

Run a Scan with your Anti-Virus software

If there are any viruses slowing down your system, this should get rid of them, and increase your performance.

If you do not have anti-virus installed, you may wish to install an anti-virus.

[SUGGESTED READING] Official Malware Removal Guide

Check your computer’s temperatures

An overheating computer is an unhappy computer. Overheating computers will run slower to try and protect themselves.

Overheating can be caused by bloatware/too many things running, damaged fans, misapplied thermal paste, dust buildup, or simply not giving the system enough airflow. You should check your temperatures so that you know if your computer has acceptable temperatures or not, and if they’re too high, you should try to cool your computer down by increasing airflow, dusting out your computer, buying a better cooler, closing programs, etc.

Please check with multiple programs, because occasionally one of these won’t know how to read your particular CPU accurately.

Check your temperatures when your computer is under load (while gaming?), so that we know how hot it gets when it works hard.

A short guide to temperatures:

  • Below room temperature or below 10°C: Too cold! Possible condensation and water damage.
  • 20°C to 60°C: Ideal temperatures. In this range, your components will last a long time.
  • 60°C to 80°C: Toasty. Getting warm. Probably time to close programs and increase cooling.
  • Above 80°C: Too hot! Cool it down immediately! Long amounts of time in this range will reduce lifespan.
  • Above 100°C: At this point, your computer is now a grill. Enjoy cooking baloney on it.

Update your System and Drivers

Usually when there is a bug in your computer’s software, there will be a patch released for it not too long afterwards to fix the problem. Additionally, updating the system will also update most of the drivers.

  • Open Windows Update and check for updates, then install any available updates.
  • Reboot your computer and repeat this process several times to ensure your system is updated.
  • For GPU drivers, such as when you have an Nvidia or AMD graphics card, you need to download the drivers manually from the website.
  • Check Device Manager to see if there are any devices that have a yellow or red warning symbol, and if so, download the driver for that device manually.

(For Laptops with discrete graphics) Check if you’re using the Discrete Graphics

Make sure your system and programs are running on the Discrete Graphics rather than the integrated CPU graphics. The integrated CPU graphics has far worse performance than the discrete graphics.

  • Some laptops allow you to exclusively use the discrete graphics. Check the UEFI or BIOS for this setting first.
  • If the above setting doesn’t exist, open the Control Panel for whichever card you have (AMD/Nvidia).
  • Enable for every setting that looks like “Use AMD/Nvidia graphics” and disable anything about power saving.
  • Also disable all power saving settings and enable High Performance in Windows Power Options.

Check your Drive for Errors

A chkdsk scan (pronounced “check-disk”) searches the file system for errors and attempts to correct them. This helps performance significantly if this is root cause of the slow down. Be aware that a full chkdsk scan may take several hours to complete. Additionally, if the hard drive is physically failing, this won’t help at all.

  • Open File Explorer, and locate the C:\ drive (or whichever drive Windows is installed on).
  • Right click on the drive, and select Properties. On the new window, go to the Tools tab.
  • There is a button under Error Checking labeled ‘Check’, click on it. It will quick-scan your hard drive. If it finds anything, it will ask you to reboot your computer and then it will begin a full chkdsk scan.

Optional

This section has performance increasing methods that have noticeable drawbacks, and so it’s subjective how you follow these steps.

Try the other sections before this one.

Reduce Visual Effects

  • Right-click This PC (or Computer) -> Properties -> Advanced system settings -> Performance -> Settings… -> Advanced tab.
  • Under Visual Effects, lower these settings until you meet a happy middle ground of visuals and performance.

Disable Slideshow Wallpapers

  • Right-click on the desktop.
  • Click on “Personalization”.
  • Change Slideshow option to Picture.

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