How to Make a Laptop Faster

The best ways to speed up your old Windows 10 laptop

What to Know

  • 5 tips: Clean your hard drive, uninstall programs you don't need, reduce startup programs, scan for malware and/or reset Windows.
  • You don't need to replace that laptop; a bit of maintenance can go a long way toward improving performance.

This article explains how to speed up your Windows 10 laptop and restore it to the performance it had when it was new, rather than replacing it with a new laptop.

Clean Your Hard Drive

You should start by removing unimportant data and cached files from your disk since this is the easiest, most painless way to gain some performance back. Over time, your hard drive fills up with temporary files that can slow down your computer's ability to access the hard drive.

  1. In the search box to the right of the Start button, type Cleanup and then click Disk Cleanup when you see it appear in the search results. 

  2. In the Disk Cleanup dialog box, be sure the C drive is selected and click OK.

    The Disk Cleanup Drive Selection dialog box.
  3. Check all the boxes and click OK.

    The Disk Cleanup dialog box.

Uninstall Programs You Don't Need

After you clean up your hard drive, the next step is to remove programs you don't need. Not only do installed programs take up valuable storage space on your hard drive, but they can often run processes in the background which slow things down.

If you don't know what a program does, look it up online to see if it's something you still need. As a general rule, if you don't know what a program does, you don't need it and can remove it, because Windows won't let you uninstall any programs that are critical to Windows itself.

  1. Click the Start button and then click the Settings icon (it's shaped like a gear).

  2. In the search box in the Settings window, type uninstall and then click Add or remove programs when you see it appear in the search results.

    The Settings window with a search taking place.
  3. Scroll through the list of programs at the bottom of the window. If you see a program you don't need, click it and select Uninstall. Then follow the instructions, if there are any, to remove the program. Usually, the app will simply uninstall on its own.

    Uninstalling a program in the Apps & Features window.
  4. When the uninstall is complete, Windows may ask permission to restart. If so, choose to do it later.

    Go back to the list of programs and continue to uninstall additional programs you don't need anymore. 

  5. When you're done, restart your laptop. 

Reduce Startup Programs

Many programs run automatically when you start your laptop and then run in the background. While this can be convenient and help certain programs run more efficiently, it also slows down your laptop overall. That's why you should reduce the number of apps that run at startup. 

  1. Right-click a blank space in the taskbar and click Task Manager in the pop-up menu. 

  2. In the Task Manager, click the Startup tab. This tab lists all the programs that run automatically at startup, and you probably have quite a few of them.

  3. You can sort these programs based on how much they affect your computer's startup speed by clicking Startup impact. This should sort them from High to Low. 

    If you don't know what a program does, right-click and choose Search Online. Windows will open a web browser and show you results for that app. It should generally be easy to see how important it is for that program to run at startup and what the impact of disabling it will be.

  4. For every program that doesn't need to run at startup, right-click and choose Disable.

    Task Manager showing Startup apps.

Scan for Malware

While somewhat unlikely, it's possible your laptop is infected with some form of malware that's slowing down your computer. To be sure, check for the presence of malware.

  1. Click Start and then click Settings.

  2. In the Settings window, click Update & Security.

  3. In the navigation pane on the left, click Windows Security. You should see the security status of your laptop.

    The Windows Security page in the Settings app.
  4. Click Virus & threat protection and click Quick scan. Let the scan run. If your computer finds any threats, follow the instructions to deal with it. 

Reset Windows

Sometimes, a laptop's Windows installation is simply too corrupted or cluttered with digital detritus for any of the above solutions to solve the problem. There's one last option available: You can start fresh with a clean installation of Windows. This is always a last resort because it's time-consuming and there is some small amount of risk involved.

It's a good idea to have a reliable backup of your data in case anything goes awry.

Windows is designed to let you reset your installation of windows back to factory conditions without damaging or deleting your personal data, but be aware that if you do this, Windows will remove third-party programs that you'll need to reinstall yourself.

  1. Click Start and then click Settings.

  2. In the search box at the top of the Settings window, type Reset. Click Reset this PC when you see it appear in the search results.

  3. In the Reset this PC section, click Get started

  4. Click Keep my files and follow the directions to let Windows reset itself. The process may take some time, but when you're done you should be left with a computer which runs as quickly as when it was brand new.

    The Recovery section of the Settings app.