Windows 7 made notable speed improvements over its predecessor, Vista, but it can’t compare with the much faster Windows 8. And most people haven’t experienced the 15-second boot that Microsoft engineers were shooting for in Windows 7 (and achieved in Windows 8 for many machines). There are certainly times when you’ll still have to wait for that spinning blue doughnut in the earlier OS. If you’re still timid about upgrading to Windows 8 despite the speed advantages, there are plenty of things you can do to speed up Windows 7.
The problem with most “speed up Windows 7” stories is that they tell you to turn off some of the operating system’s more charming visual features. The first 9 of my dozen tips show you ways you can speed up Windows 7 system without compromising its appearance. For those who need even more speed or don’t care about eye candy, I’ve listed three at the end that boost system performance at the expense of some visual effects.
In this article, we will show you 10 ways to speed up a slow Windows 7 PC. If you have your own tips for speed up Windows 7, post your suggestions in the Comments section below.
10 Tips to Speed Up Windows 7
1. Uninstall Bloatware
Uninstall bloatware that came with your laptop or PC. Or even apps you installed but no longer want. Head to Control Panel | Programs | Uninstall a program and take the hatchet to anything, such as unwanted games, that you’ll never need. Many programs will load processes at boot time and take up valuable RAM and CPU cycles. While you’re in here, you can also click “Turn Windows Features On or Off” and scan the list to see if there’s anything you don’t use. You might also try software like PCDecrapifier and Revo Uninstaller, both utilities that are featured in our Best Free Software of 2010 blockbuster.
2. Limit Startup Processes
In the Start button’s search box, type MSCONFIG, then head to the Startup tab. You’ll likely see a slew of apps, mostly for system support, but you’ll be able to identify some that clearly aren’t necessary. There’s absolutely no need to have GoogleUpdate or even QuickTime running all the time, for example. Don’t delete those that support your hardware or security, but anything blatantly nonproductive can go. You may have to check the program names online with a site like processlibrary.com to see what they are—they may even be malware. If you want to get more granular, run Microsoft’s Autoruns utility.
3. Add More RAM
Windows 7 isn’t has much of a hog as Vista, but if you’re moving from XP, the memory requirements are greater.
4. Turn Off Search Indexing
In Vista I, would only do this if I saw the search indexing icon in the system tray and noticed a performance lag, but that notification isn’t present in Windows 7. Of course, if you do a lot of searching, this won’t appeal to you, as some searches will be slower. To turn off indexing, open the Indexing Options Control Panel window (if you just type “index” in the Start button search box, you’ll see that choice at the top of the start menu), click “Modify” and remove locations being indexed and file types, too. If you want to leave search indexing on, but find that it occasionally slows you down, you can stop its process when you need extra speed. Right-click on Computer either in the Start menu or on the desktop, choose Manage. Then double-click Services and Applications, then Services. Find Windows Search, and double click on that. From this properties dialog, you can choose a Startup type of Manual or Disabled to have the process silent by default.
Your disk stores data in chunks wherever there’s space on disk, regardless of whether the space is contiguous for one file. Defragging tidies everything up and blocks a program’s bits together so that the reader heads don’t have to shuttle back and forth to read a whole executable or data file. While this is less of a problem with today’s huge hard drives and copius RAM, a slow system can still benefit from defragmenting the disk. Windows 7 comes with a built-in defragger that runs automatically at scheduled intervals. Mine was set by default to run Wednesdays at 1:00 AM, when my PC is usually turned off; so it never got defragged. If you’re in a similar boat, you can either change the scheduled defrag, or defrag on demand. Just type “defrag” in the Windows Start Menu search bar, and click on “Disk Defragmenter.” The version of the utility is improved in Windows 7, and shows more information about what’s happening on your disk than Vista did.
6. Change Power Settings
Change power settings to maximum performance. Of course, this isn’t a good choice if you want to save electricity, but it could boost your computing. Head to Control Panel / System and Security / Power Options. From here, click on the left-panel choice “Create a power option” and choose “High Performance.”
7. Clean Up Your Disk
From the Start menu, choose All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Disk Cleanup. This finds unwanted junk and files such as temporary, offline Web pages, and installer files on your PC and offers to delete them all at once. You may even find that your Recycle Bin is bulging at the seams: Mine had 1.47GB I didn’t know was there! This will generally only have a noticeable affect on speed if your machine is getting close to full, however.
8. Check for Viruses & Spyware
You can run the built in Windows Defender or a third-party app. You could start with Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus, Avast, Norton or other best Anti-Virus.
9. Performance Troubleshooter
In Control Panel’s search box, type “troubleshooting” and under System and Security, you’ll see the choice “Check for performance issues.” Run the troubleshooter and it may find the root cause of your slowdown.
10. Turn Off Desktop Gadgets
Now we come to the tips that require shutting down some of the operating system’s bling. Windows 7 ditched the actual visual sidebar of Vista, but there’s still a sidebar process running. Turn it off by typing “gadgets” in the start menu search bar, choosing “View list of running gadgets” and select each in turn and click Remove to shut any gadgets you can live without.