You can take several measures to improve the performance of a sluggish computer, from simple non-technical fixes to using advanced device optimization tools. I tried dozens of methods and picked the 20 best ones that make a PC faster. The hardest part is identifying what’s slowing down your PC. For that, I recommend you use a stellar antivirus like Norton 360, which scans your PC of unwanted programs and optimization defects and fixes them. You can try it out risk-free with its 60-day money-back guarantee. Speed up your PC with Norton 360

Quick Guide: 3 Easy Steps to Speed Up Your PC

20 Simple Things You Can Do to Speed Up Your PC

1. Restart Your PC

When you don’t restart your PC for a long time, more and more apps keep piling up in its memory and cause clutter in your computer’s background processes. Restarting your system wipes it clean from unwanted processes and stops all running apps/processes that are needlessly consuming your PC’s resources — this makes your PC run faster. Since restarting your PC is quick and effortless, it’s worth restarting your computer to see if it gets faster before trying out other ways to make it faster.

2. Close Intensive Programs and Apps

One of the main causes of a slow PC is the over-consumption of RAM, hard drive, and CPU resources. This is mainly due to resource-intensive programs like Adobe, MS Office, or even programs you might not use daily like Skype running in the background. If you have such programs installed on your computer then you should try and close them manually or via the task manager to see if this alleviates the issue.

I recommend using the task manager because it closes not only that program but also all its background processes. To do this, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the task manager, right-click on the program you want to close, and choose “End Task” to close it. If you don’t see any high-usage programs in the task manager, your system might be infected with malware. Malware could also be the case if you see resource-intensive programs that you do not recognize. Running a quick scan from a top-shelf antivirus like Norton can give you insight as to what programs shouldn’t be there.

3. Remove Excessive Browser Extensions

Having too many browser extensions on your internet browsers can also slow down your PC, particularly when you’re surfing the internet. It needlessly eats up your computer’s memory and slows it down. Chrome is the most widely used internet browser, but it’s also one of the most resource-intensive in terms of memory usage.

To remove extensions from Chrome, right-click the extension you want to remove and hit “Remove from Chrome.” Alternatively, you can go to the “Manage Extensions” page containing all your extensions and remove them one by one. It’s also good to keep in mind that unfamiliar extensions could be the result of malware. Sometimes adware will install extensions that track your data or worse.

4. Clear Your Browser’s Cache, History, and Temp Files

Your browser records your browsing history. Every entry takes up a minuscule amount of your system resources, but, over time, this can have a snowball effect and slow your PC down. Therefore, you must delete your browsing data regularly. Apart from that, you should also clear cookies, cached data, and other temporary files.

To do that, go to Chrome’s menu by clicking the 3 vertical dots on the top-right and then “History.” This opens up a window where you can choose to clear your browsing data for a particular time range. I suggest changing this from “Last hour” to “All time.” Also, make sure the cookies and cached image boxes are ticked.

5. Remove Unused Software & Applications

Having too many applications and software installed on your computer can slow it down. Browse through the list of programs on your computer and delete the ones you don’t need or frequently use. For example, I don’t need Adobe Photoshop on my PC; if I ever do, I can use its online version. You should also watch out for bloatware, unnecessary apps, and programs pre-installed on your computer. Most of them are sponsored apps and utilities you don’t need that unnecessarily consume your system resources. To remove such programs and apps, right-click the Windows start button and click “Apps and Features.” This will show you the list of programs installed on your computer. You can remove any program by clicking on it and hitting the “Uninstall” button. Alternatively, you can use an antivirus suite like Norton 360 to identify and remove unnecessary programs from within the app.

6. Delete Temp Files, Logs, and Leftovers

After using your PC for several years, it’s normal for its storage to contain a lot of unneeded data like offline web pages, leftover files after installing a program, and setup log files. These are small individual files, but their cumulative size becomes significant enough over the years to slow your PC down. That’s why you should regularly clean your hard drive of junk. To do that:

7. Clear Out Old Downloads

An extensively used PC is bound to have several files in its “Downloads” folder. Anything you download or transfer to your computer goes into that folder, and most users often forget to delete the files they no longer need. There may be some files you don’t necessarily need for now but might in the future. For that, you can use a cloud storage option like Google Drive or OneDrive. If you still run out of space, having an antivirus like Norton 360 can be a blessing because it provides cloud storage on its plans.

Alternatively, you can use the disk cleanup feature on your PC or antivirus. It detects all junk and duplicate files hogging up your hard drive and slowing your computer down. From my experience, Norton’s disk cleanup feature detected 0.75GB of junk data in my Downloads folder, whereas Windows “Disk Cleanup” only detected 23.6MB.

8. Make Sure to Empty Your Recycle Bin

For those who judiciously keep their “Downloads” folder clean, they might forget to clean their “Recycle Bin” often. Every file you delete (not permanently delete) ends up in the Recycle Bin. Over time, it can get too clogged up with files and data. Since the Recycle Bin is just another program on your PC, it too takes up system resources. If it has too many files, it will impact your system performance. To clean your Recycle Bin, simply right-click on it and click “Empty Recycle Bin.” Alternatively, you can permanently delete files by pressing Shift + Delete, so they don’t end up in the Recycle Bin. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to recover those files in the future.

9. Toggle Startup Applications in Task Manager

One of the most common culprits behind a slow PC is startup programs — programs that automatically start when your system boots up. In my case, these were Skype and MS Office, among others. You’ll find that many of these programs are high-impact and that there’s no use for them to automatically run on system boot-up. To manage your startup programs, follow these steps: Restart your PC, and you should find that your boot time is significantly faster if there were many programs scheduled to launch.

10. Check Your Laptop’s Power Settings

You can skip this step if you’re using a desktop PC, but laptop users should double-check their power settings. While being used unplugged, a laptop can lower screen brightness and bog down your system’s performance to preserve battery. This can slow down your laptop significantly, especially if it’s not a high-spec laptop. To improve your laptop’s performance, click the battery icon in the system tray on the bottom left and adjust the slider to the right to get the best performance. Doing this will improve the machine’s performance at the expense of the battery.

11. Run an Optimization Program

Windows has limited optimization tools that are hard to use because they aren’t organized into one place or folder. That’s why I suggest using a premium antivirus — it provides a complete cybersecurity solution with plenty of optimization tools, all within an app. After extensively testing multiple antiviruses, I found that TotalAV is packed with one of the most comprehensive tune-up facilities. It’s right up there with the likes of Norton! It consists of a tracker that identifies cookies, junk files, auto-run programs, and duplicate files. It also hosts an app uninstaller, startup manager, and browser cleanup tool. It’s worth running the optimizer, as it will automate many of the previous steps. It will check for bloatware, temporary files, unused programs, downloads, and much more all with a single click of a button.

12. Run a Full System Scan for Malware

If you have tried all the above tips and tricks and your PC is still slow, it’s probably infected with malware. Viruses use a lot of CPU, memory, and disk resources that can even take over your system. The problem is you can’t know if your computer is infected without an antivirus. The most you can do is do a preliminary check with Windows Defender, but it may not detect every malware on your system. I strongly recommend using Norton 360, my go-to antivirus and everyday tool. Throughout my tests, Norton gave me perfect detection scores and real-time protection, keeping me safe from even the stealthiest of viruses that most antiviruses fail to detect.

13. Run Windows Troubleshooter & Update Windows

Another factor that could be slowing your PC down might be an outdated operating system or drivers. If you don’t update your computer and its drivers regularly, you might experience lag while using it. You can run the Windows troubleshooter to find out if you’re missing an update by doing the following:

14. Change Appearance Performance Options

Changing your Windows visualizations may not improve your system performance by that much, but it might make a dent in some cases. To do so, follow these steps: Ticking this option disables all the visual effects on your system, such as fades and animations. This would improve your system performance a little bit, but it may be less visually appealing depending on personal preferences.

15. Turn Off Search Indexing

A Windows operating system indexes all your files so you can fetch them as fast as possible using the search bar. Building this index takes up a significant portion of your system resources, especially if you have a mid-tier PC. You can try turning off indexing on your computer to see if it improves its performance. Follow these steps to give it a shot: Doing this will make your internal PC searches take a while to complete, but your PC won’t slow down in the process. This can give mixed results, so only attempt this if all other options have yielded poor results.

16. Perform a Drive Scan

Many times, your system drives may not be storing data the way they’re supposed to, causing slow system performance. To identify if that’s the case, follow these steps: Alternatively, you can use the command prompt to access the disk’s “Properties.” For example, if you want to inspect your C drive, type “CHKDSK C:” Once you click “Check,” the scan will automatically start on some computers. However, there’s a chance that you’ll see the following 2 options. Make sure they’re toggled on before you proceed with the scan.

“Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors” — This option is turned on by default. “Automatically fix file system errors” — This option may be off (unchecked), so make sure you tick the box and turn it on.

Running this program will ensure your drives and partitions are healthy and uncorrupted. If there were no errors found then this likely isn’t the issue.

17. Defragment Your Hard Drive

One common reason behind a slow PC is a cluttered hard drive, which can be de-cluttered by a process called defragmentation. Defragmentation is a process that better organizes the data stored in a hard drive to function more efficiently. Defragmentation may take up to several hours to complete. To start the process,

Keep in mind never to defragment a solid state drive (SSD) because it can cause unnecessary wear and tear and reduce its lifespan. Normally, your PC or laptop has an HDD (hard disk drive), not an SSD, and it’s safe to defragment that.

18. Recover a Fresh Copy of Windows

If none of the above steps work, your Windows operating system may be missing critical files, and you may have to reinstall it. Reinstalling Windows would also ensure your computer is wiped clean of any malware, PUPs, and bloatware slowing down. Before proceeding any further, ensure you have backed up all your files on the cloud or a portable storage device. Next, follow these steps: You’ll be given 2 options — “Keep my files” and “Remove everything.” No matter which one you choose, make sure you have backed up your data. Removing everything will take longer, but it is the best option to ensure that your PC is completely clean of anything harmful.

19. Consider Upgrading Your Hardware

If you’ve tried everything listed above and nothing has worked, it could mean that your PC needs a hardware upgrade. Its components may have become obsolete to keep up with the current system and software demands. Before you do anything else, I suggest you replace your HDD (hard disk drive) with an SSD (solid-state drive). An SSD is significantly faster than an HDD because it uses electrical circuitry with no moving parts, which means fewer delays and less wear and tear over time. Apart from that, you need at least 8GB of RAM for seamless basic web browsing. If you’re a gamer, you would require a good GPU (graphics processing unit). Make sure you check for compatibility issues before purchasing components

20. Practice Good PC Performance Habits

Lastly, it’s helpful to develop good habits that prevent extra wear and tear of your PC with regular use. For starters, don’t leave your computer open when you’re not using it. Shut it down properly from the Windows start bar. Also, keep watch of your “Downloads” folder and Recycle Bin. Clean these folders regularly by deleting unnecessary files. Another crucial thing most users neglect is updating their Windows operating system and drivers. Not doing so impacts a PC’s performance significantly. Keeping track of all these things can be hard, so I suggest you use a reliable antivirus like Norton 360. A good antivirus makes optimizing your computer and ensuring it’s up to date easy, as you can do all that within one app.

The Best Antivirus Software to Speed Up Your PC — Full Test Results in January 2023

1. Norton — Provides Perfect Real-Time Protection with a Host of Optimization Tools

Key Features: Norton 360 passed my rigorous real-time detection tests with flying colors. It detected 100% of the 500+ virus samples I threw at it without taking a toll on my PC. My CPU, memory, and RAM utilization spiked by only 17%, 24%, and 23%, respectively. I was happy to see many optimization tools in its arsenal, including a file cleaner, startup manager, and disk optimizer. Its disk defragmenter automatically starts if one of your drives is more than 10% fragmented. After defragmentation, I noticed my PC had become slightly faster than before. The impact will be more significant if you’re using a mid-tier computer or have gone a long time without ever defragmenting the drive. Next, I used its startup manager to see a number of programs and apps that were automatically launching on system boot up. I easily removed the unnecessary ones from the list and my boot time improved significantly. After checking out its price plans, I concluded that its Deluxe plan offers the best value. It offers the following features:

Compatible with up to 5 devices (PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablets) Real-time protection with anti-spyware and ransomware protection 50GB of cloud backup storage Password manager Parental controls Dark web monitoring

Overall, Norton 360 is my go-to antivirus because of its superb detection capabilities and powerful optimization tools that boost your computer’s performance. You can try Norton risk-free with its 60-day money-back guarantee and get a full refund if you’re unsatisfied with its performance. Speed up your PC with Norton 360

2. McAfee — Near-Perfect Detection Scores with a PC Performance Booster

Key Features: McAfee is one of my favorite antiviruses because it boasts an advanced and highly configurable firewall that keeps real-time threats at bay. It performed exceptionally well throughout my tests, giving me an average real-time detection score of 99.96%. While its quick scan is fast and not resource-heavy on your PC, its full scan can slow down your machine, especially if it’s a mid-tier computer. My CPU, memory, and RAM utilization levels surged by 56%, 37%, and 52%, respectively. I didn’t feel my PC lag because I have a high-end computer with the latest CPU, so your experience might be slightly different. McAfee’s antivirus plans pack 2 main optimization tools — App Boost and Web Boost. App Boost makes your system’s resource-allocation more efficient. Specifically, it allocates more resources to the apps you use more frequently so that they don’t lag when you use them. Web Boost speeds up your browsing experience by pausing auto-play ads on websites. I would’ve liked to see more features on McAfee’s plans; unfortunately, it offers the full suite of optimization tools in its “PC Optimizer” plan, not any of its antivirus plans. I found that its “Total Protection” antivirus family plan offers the best value and includes the following features.

Compatible with 10 devices (PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet) Real-time protection with web protection and a highly configurable firewall Identity monitoring Password manager Personal data cleanup VPN

Overall, McAfee is a great buy. It has an intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface suitable for even beginner users. Although its antivirus plans don’t pack as many tune-up tools, they’re still enough to significantly boost your PC’s performance. You can test McAfee without any risk as it offers a 30-day free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Speed up your PC with McAfee

3. TotalAV — Boasts an Array of Optimization Tools

Key Features: TotalAV is a reliable antivirus with a powerful virus scanner that detected 99.2% of all viruses in my real-time tests. Its full scan was more lightweight than McAfee’s but less than Norton’s. I could easily browse the internet on multiple tabs on my browser. TotalAV stands out because of its comprehensive tune-up facility, which I haven’t seen many antiviruses offer. TotalAV’s smart scan not only detects viruses hiding in the most critical places on your hard drive but also identifies tracking cookies, junk files, auto-run programs, and duplicate files. I used TotalAV’s Startup Manager to identify and disable apps from launching automatically and slowing my PC’s boot time. Doing this improved my boot time by 18% — the effect will be more significant on mid-tier systems. Having a browser clean-up function was a breath of fresh air for me. You can clear cookies and browsing history on Chrome, Firefox, and Edge without having to open them. Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t work with Safari. TotalAV offers 4 plans — a free trial, Antivirus Pro, Internet Security, and Total Security. I recommend going for Internet Security if you don’t need a password manager, but, if you do, buy Total Security. Total Security offers the following features:

Compatible with 6 devices Real-time protection with protection and a basic firewall All system optimization tools (smart scan, startup manager, app uninstaller, browser cleanup, and more) Password manager A VPN with a large server network and good speeds

TotalAV’s optimization toolset is the most potent out of the 3 listed contenders but unfortunately, TotalAV lags in security. Although it has a powerful virus scanner, TotalAV has a basic firewall that isn’t as effective in detecting viruses as I had hoped. Even so, it performs better than the average antivirus in the industry. You can try TotalAV risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. Speed up your PC with TotalAV

Quick Comparison Table: 2023’s Best AVs for Speeding up Your PC

Speed up your PC with Norton 360

How I Tested and Ranked the Best AVs for Speeding up Your PC

I considered the following aspects when picking out the top 3 antiviruses for speeding up a PC:

Malware detection capabilities — An antivirus with good optimization tools but a subpar virus scanner is no good. My top picks are excellent antiviruses with good optimization toolsets. Optimization tools — I chose antiviruses that provide a number of useful optimization tools such as a disk optimizer, startup manager, browser cleanup, and more. Impact on system performance — The antiviruses on my list don’t significantly slow down your PC during a full scan. Impact of optimization tools — I tried each contender’s optimization tools and recorded how much each improved my system performance

Speed up your PC with Norton 360

Will an SSD speed up my PC?

Yes, replacing an HDD with an SSD makes your PC noticeably much faster. This is because, unlike an HDD, an SDD comprises a unified electrical circuitry with no moving parts. As a result, your data moves across faster with less wear and tear with time.

Will more RAM speed up my PC?

Not necessarily. Your PC may be slow because of reasons other than low RAM. To find out if you’re low on RAM, open task manager and check if your PC’s RAM is capping out. If so, then adding RAM to your system would help. I recommend having at least 8GB of RAM for basic web browsing.

How do I speed up my PC for free?

You can use a free antivirus that has optimization tools, but I advise you not to. Many free antiviruses (even the most popular ones like Avast and AVG) usually store your data and sell it to third parties. Instead, you can use a free plan of a reliable antivirus or its free trial to speed up your PC for free. Speed up your PC with Norton 360

Improve Your PC’s Performance with These Tips

A Windows PC or laptop is bound to get slow with years of regular use. Many factors could contribute to its slowdown, from bad habits and fragmented system drives to obsolete hardware. The key is deleting files and programs you don’t need and having a good antivirus to keep you safe from malware. A good antivirus also packs essential optimization tools that boost your PC’s performance. These include a disk optimizer, startup manager, app uninstaller, performance checker, and more. I recommend Norton 360 because it provides perfect protection against viruses and hosts several optimization tools for improving your computer’s performance. You can try Norton out risk-free with its 60-day money-back guarantee.

Summary — Best Antivirus Software to Speed Up Your PC in 2023