Fix slow Windows 10 Computers
With home computers, people often replace perfectly good Windows 10 machines because they are slow or have problems that they can’t resolve themselves.
Windows 10 getting progressively slower
With Windows 10, we have seen many machines hibernating or sleeping rather than shutting down. A symptom of this is that the computer gets gradually slower over time. To test your machine for this problem, run task manager by pressing control-alt-delete and selecting task manager and selecting the performance tab. Click the CPU graph on the left, and you will see something similar to the one below.
The Uptime section at the bottom shows how long the machine has been running. In this case, seven days, 19 hours, 52 minutes and 28 seconds.
If you are shutting the machine down every day and the number of days is not going back to zero, then the machine is hibernating rather than shutting down. Over a large number of days, the computer will get progressively slower. Up to a week, you might not notice, but at three weeks, the machine will probably be noticeably slow, and at 50+ days will be unbearably slow.
Slow desktop computers
If the slow Windows 10 machine is a desktop, there is little point in hibernating it, so turning off the hibernating feature will avoid the performance problem.
To do this, run a command prompt with administrator permissions and run the following command.
“Powercfg.exe /h off” (without the quotes)
This command will stop the machine from hibernating, and it will shut down properly. When restarted, the uptime will start at 0:0:0:0, and the performance will return to normal.
Slow laptop computers
If your machine is a laptop, you might want to retain the hibernation option, as it allows you to shut the screen and go.
If you want to reboot a machine without disabling hibernation, you can run the “shutdown /r” command from a command prompt.
Type cmd in the Type here to search box. Run the Command prompt as administrator and type “shutdown /r” and press enter.
This command will reboot the machine, and the uptime will start at 0:0:0:0.
Ongoing computer maintenance
Check the disk usage in the performance tab. In the example, it is 1%. If the disk usage is at 100% all the time, the machine will be very slow and needs attention. Excessive disk usage can have many causes. Check if updates are running and make sure they are finished. If the machine is short of RAM, this will cause excessive disk usage and slow the computer down.
- Remove software you are not using.
- Run a full virus scan with a quality anti-virus product. Don’t rely on the Microsoft anti-virus tools as they will not give you complete protection. A full scan can take 30 minutes or more.
- Atomik.biz can give you a one-month FREE trial of ESET Internet Security which is a quality commercial AntiVirus product. We can also offer a month’s FREE trial of ESET Cyber Security Pro, which is for Apple Mac computers.
- Install any available updates to Windows. To do this, type “check for updates” in the “Type here to search box”. Run any available updates. Updates can take a long time, depending on how out of date the machine is. The current version of Windows 10 is 22H2. A customer machine with 1604 took over a day to update, which is an extreme case, so be patient. A more common timeframe is 30 minutes or less.
- Check how much RAM you have and need. In the task manager Memory tab, you will see how much memory your machine has installed and how much it uses. In the above example, the PC is using 5.4 out of 12GB. This display will never show all the memory used, so if used is within 0.7GB of the available, the machine will benefit from more RAM. Buying RAM is much cheaper than buying a new computer. Adding RAM will only make a difference if the device needs more.
- Check for disk fragmentation. Windows 10 should do this automatically, but it is worth checking.
- The ultimate upgrade is swapping a mechanical hard disk for a solid-state drive. Solid-state State Drives make a massive difference in performance, but the most challenging upgrade at the old drive has to be copied to the Solid State Drive before the machine will work.
Speed up slow computers and laptops
A parent recently asked us to look at an unbearably slow child’s computer. It was slow to boot, was unresponsive in running games, and was reluctant to close programs when shutting down. The child wanted his games to be more responsive, which needed better computer performance.
The machine was old but was a good quality business machine retasked as a child’s computer. The computer had various games on it and had good quality antivirus. We removed lots of unused software and did some updates, which made some difference. The machine only had 3GB of RAM, so we upgraded it to 6GB which we sourced from an old machine in our parts store. The memory upgrade transformed the computer, which is now quick and responsive. We also defragged the hard drive using a third-party defragger which ran for hours as the fragmentation was very severe.
This story’s moral is that many machines that people usually replace only need some work to revitalize them.
Speed up your slow computer
If you want to improve your machine’s performance, there are several easy things to do first.
- Remove all unused software.
- Scan the computer with a quality anti-virus product.
- Run updates on the operating system and all installed programs
- Perform a system cleanup and remove unused files.
- Defragment the hard disk drive.
- Run a quality registry cleaner. Make a backup first in case of problems.
If the machine is still not fast enough, then the next steps are to improve the hardware.
- Increase the installed memory. Running Windows 7, 8, or 10 generally requires a minimum of 4GB of RAM for acceptable performance. Machines with 32-bit versions of Windows can’t use more than 4GB, but if you have 64-bit Windows, upgrading to 8GB will make a noticeable improvement.
- Changing the hard disk to a solid-state drive will make a huge difference. Fitting an SSD is more involved as the old drive contents need to be copied to the new drive.
What not to do
When searching for help fixing your slow computer or laptop, you will find many sites offering to analyse your computer and solve all your problems. Do not trust these sites unless you are 100% confident they are legitimate, which in our experience, none of them is.
The most common frauds are driver update sites that want you to install their software. The software then tells you, you have dozens of problems they will fix for a fee. This is often dishonest, and you never need to pay for drivers, which are always free from the manufacturer.
There are some sites which try to trick you into installing their “free antivirus”. This “free antivirus” tells you about dozens of viruses on your machine and tricks you into paying for the non-existent service. Some of these are blatant fraud and take your money on false pretences.
Even if you are not being tricked into paying money, you will almost certainly install malware on your PC. Malware might be stealing your identity or doing something else illegal. Unless you are 100% confident about the legitimacy of free software, please do not install it. It is very likely to be installing Malware. Malware is 100% certain to make your slow computer or laptop slower.
Do not become a victim of fraudulent computer software.