The longer you have been using your PC, the slower it will become as it acquires more programs and files across the Windows 10 operating system. It's worth formatting your hard drive every 2 years or so, but there are some solutions you can try first - such as these fixes to speed up a slow PC, or making some changes to ensure your PC boots faster.
The good news is that we have a few ways to fix a slow booting Windows 10 PC.
1- Stop programs loading at startup
When you install new programs, many will want to launch automatically when you start up your PC. This can be a good thing, especially for the likes of OneDrive, Google Drive, or anti-virus packages. It's convenient and - for some apps - essential.
The problem is that as more apps join this list, boot times will become longer. Multiply this by a year or two and your PC can take an age to be usable when you turn it on.
Fixing this is relatively easy though, as Windows 10 provides controls over which apps are allowed to run at launch. To access these settings hold down CTRL+ALT+DEL and then select Task Manager from the menu that appears.
If this is the first time you’ve used this program you’ll need to click the 'More details' option at the bottom of the window. Now you should see a list of all the programs running on your system.
Select the Start-up tab and you’ll now be able to disable any apps that you think could do without when you first turn on your PC. For a more in-depth explanation of how this works try our How to change Windows 10 startup programs guide.
Bear in mind that you're not removing the programs from your PC. You can still use them, but they won't automatically start up. And it's probably only worth disabling those that have a High or Medium impact.
As a guide, you can usually disable 'updater' or 'helper' programs. The associated program won't automatically update, though, so you'll have to check manually for updates. As we said, these programs run for convenience, mostly.
If you disable something and a crucial feature or function stops working, simply re-enable the app in the Task Manager.
2- Update, update, update
Sometimes a dodgy driver or a bug in an update can cause Windows systems to slow down, so it’s worth making sure Windows, drivers and programs are up to date.
To check for any available Windows updates press the Windows key+I and then select Update & Security. In here you’ll see an option to either check for updates or install ones that are available.
Do this, reboot your machine, and see if there are any improvements.
For drivers, it can be worth installing a 'driver updater' program which will do the hard work for you. Otherwise you'll have to check manually for all your hardware, from a printer, to your graphics card and other hardware attached to your PC.
3 - Check for malware and viruses
Another easy fix is to run a full scan on your system to see if any nasty agents are lurking in the code. Malware is a regular cause of performance drops in Windows, so you should regularly give your PC a health check.
Either use the antivirus software that's installed on your PC already, or if you're using Windows Defender then press Windows key+I, select Update & Security, then click on the Windows Defender section on the left column.
In the Windows that appears you’ll see the top option is Open Windows Defender. Click this then choose Full in the Scan options section and click Scan now.
The process takes a good while, so it’s best to begin a scan before you go to bed and let it run overnight. If you use another security package then you’ll need to launch it and look for similar options.
When the scan is complete you’ll know whether your system is compromised or not. If it is then run any fixes your software advises. If not then you’ll need to move to more drastic measures.
4 - Reset Windows
It’s well worth reinstalling Windows every 18-24 months, as this should keep your system in a sprightly state. Of course this is not a small thing to contend with, and you must ensure that you backup your data beforehand.
Windows has various safeguards in place, but we’d recommend taking a look at our Best Backup software feature for a rock-solid way to protect your photos, music, documents, and other important information.
With your data safely tucked away you can now begin. Press Windows key+I, select Update & Security, then choose Recovery from the list in the left hand column.
At the top of the page you’ll see the option to Reset this PC. Click Get started and you’ll then see a blue box appear with two choices – Keep my files and Remove everything.
Choose the former if you want your data left in place, or the latter for a completely fresh version of Windows 10.
Your PC will now reinstall Windows and hopefully leave you with a much faster boot time when it’s finished.
5- Install an SSD
If all the software avenues have been explored then the final consideration is hardware. Swapping your old hard drive for a new superfast SSD is an easy upgrade that often grants huge speed boosts on older machines.
So if you’re not frightened of opening up your machine, a quick read of our How to install an SSD in your PC would be time well spent.