How to Fix It When Windows 11 Is Slow

If a reboot or updates don't make Windows 11 faster, disable some startup apps

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A computer that's too slow, sluggish, laggy—whatever you want to call it—is quite possibly the most common annoyance reported by computer users. Below is a look at some possible reasons for why your Windows 11 PC is slow or unresponsive, and what you can do about it right now.

Why Is Windows 11 So Slow?

For starters, know that a slow PC is a really common symptom. But it's also very broad, and could mean anything from malfunctioning hardware to a software bug or even something totally unrelated like a poor internet connection.

There's not a single cause behind every slow computer. There are, however, several different reasons that could individually show up as a performance issue in Windows 11.

Any of the following could be to blame:

  • There are too many programs actively running
  • One or more apps are hogging all the memory
  • You're running too low on free storage space
  • The OS or a device driver contains an unresolved bug.
  • There's an issue with your connection to the internet
  • Your hardware can't keep up

Those things could produce the following symptoms (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Programs take a long time to open (or never open at all)
  • Menus or windows don't feel as snappy as they should
  • Nothing works for several minutes after logging in to Windows
  • Delayed mouse or keyboard actions
  • Choppy audio or video streaming
  • Downloads stall or web pages don't fully finish loading

How to Fix Windows 11 Running Slow

Since there are so many potential reasons Windows 11 is slow, there are several angles from which to address it. Work through these tips in the order they're listed so you can try out the simpler solutions first.

  1. Reboot your computer to terminate background programs that could be using up valuable resources.

    The fastest way to do this in Windows 11 is from the Start menu: open it, and use the power button to find the Restart option.

    A restart isn't something you should be doing all the time to fix computer issues (there's a bigger problem going on, if so). However, restarting does fix many computer problems, and could be the solution here.

  2. Install Windows updates, if any are available. Bugs can cause performance issues, and the only way to fix OS-level bugs is through Windows Update.

    If your PC's issue is actually that Windows Update itself is slow, see what to do when Windows Update gets stuck or frozen.

  3. Delete junk files. Depending on how you use your computer and how often you clear out these kinds of files, there could be a lot you can erase.

    Junk files are easy to overlook as something that takes up too much space on your PC. If you have a lot, they could collectively be taking up so much storage that your hard drive is running too low on free space.

    Or, depending on where the files are, they might be clogging up one or more apps' abilities to work normally and thus presenting as a slow computer. This is often the case with a web browser's cache.

    Deleting the biggest apps on your computer can free up lots of space. Remember, however, that unless your hard drive is quite full (90% or more), deleting a program just to free up space probably won't impact performance all that much.

  4. Disable unnecessary startup apps. These are programs that start automatically with Windows. You don't need this to happen for most programs because you can just open them manually when you need to use them.

    If you have lots of programs trying to launch at once, you'll feel the sluggishness each time your computer starts. Plus, if you don't shut them down later, they'll continue to hog up essential resources like memory and CPU.

  5. Disable unnecessary visual effects that could be impacting performance.

    Windows 11 shows animations when opening and closing windows, but they can be turned off if they're impacting performance. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Visual effects, and disable Animation effects.

    We also recommend changing the Performance Options visual effects setting to Adjust for best performance (alternatively, pick and choose which effects to disable from that screen). You can find that option by executing this command from Run (WIN+R) or Windows Search:

  6. Shut down services or apps you don't need to use right now. The best way to do this is with Task Manager. See our article on how to force-quit programs in Windows 11 for all the details.

    This might sound like a no-brainer—you've probably already shut down the apps you aren't using. But, just clicking X doesn't always do it. Some things are slowing down Windows because they're still running in the background.

  7. Troubleshoot Windows 11 Search not working, if by "slow computer," you really just mean searches are slow. That article explains what you can try.

  8. Use a driver updater tool to fix outdated or corrupt drivers. One of the drivers on your computer might be using too much CPU or RAM because of a bug.

  9. Check your computer for malware. This is similar to an earlier step about shutting down unused programs, but instead of a legitimate app that's using system resources, it's a malicious program you really don't want!

    For example, there could be a worm or virus on your computer transmitting information over the internet or replicating itself through your file system.

  10. Restart your router. This isn't really a fix for Windows 11, specifically, but if the router is to blame for a slow internet connection, it might feel like Windows is slow. For example, maybe loading web pages or sending emails takes longer than you know it should.

    Similarly, your distance from the router could be the reason behind a weak Wi-Fi connection or other poor internet-related performance. Slow or stuttered video or audio streaming, for instance, could have less to do with Windows 11 and more to do with your internet connection.

  11. Refresh or reinstall Windows 11. This will reinstall Windows 11 so it looks and feels like it did the first time it was installed. If Windows is slow because of an operating system or other software problem, this will no doubt address it.

  12. Downgrade Windows 11 to Windows 10. If applicable on your computer, you might be able to uninstall Windows 11, which could fix slowness if it's caused by running an incompatible version of Windows on your hardware.

    Not all computers can run Windows 11—see Can I Run Windows 11 on My Computer?—so you might not really have the necessary hardware.

    If the option to go back to Windows 10 is greyed out when you check for that option in Settings, you can always manually install a different version of Windows.

  13. Upgrade your hardware. If Windows 11 is still slow even after addressing all the above software fixes (especially the two previous steps), hardware is all that's to blame.

    You'll know this is the case if Windows is slow no matter which version is installed, and if performance doesn't improve even right after a new installation and fresh drivers.

  • Why is Windows Update so slow?

    Windows Update may run slowly because the update itself is massive. It may also be slow because of a slow internet connection, multiple users attempting to update the window, having an improperly fragmented hard drive or old application data, third-party software conflicts, or something going wrong in the Windows Update program.

  • Why is Windows Explorer so slow?

    Windows File Explorer may run slowly because you're running too many programs, using the Quick Access feature, or your folders have too many files and subfolders. Try restarting File Explorer, disabling Quick Access, closing programs, and optimizing problem folders.

  • How do I fix slow internet on Windows 10?

    To fix slow internet connectivity, stop running bandwidth-hogging background programs, check for wireless signal interference, and ensure your router and modem are working optimally. Additionally, scan for viruses and malware that may slow your internet speed.

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