How to Fix Performance Issues on a Windows PC

Introduction

Diagnosing performance issues on Windows 10 can be difficult. This guide will take you, step by step, through Microsoft-recommended checks and fixes to help make sure your computer is performing as best it can.

1 Check for Updates

  1. Open the Start menu and select Settings.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Settings
  2. Select Update and Security.
    Updates and Security Settings
  3. Select Windows Update on the left, then select Check for updates.
    Update and Security with Windows Update and Check for updates highlighted.
  4. Once the system has finished checking for updates, it will automatically download and install the latest applicable updates.
  5. The system also may prompt you to restart, if it does, please do so at your earliest convenience, otherwise the update process will not complete.

    If you system was already recently updated, chances are that no further updates are available and your Update status will indicate: Your device is up to date.

2 Disk Cleanup

Windows needs about 2 GB free space, at minimum, to function. In order to properly update and perform other functions, around 5 GB free space is recommended.

A simple way to help free up space is to remove temporary files; files that were useful during an update or other working of the computer, but now simply take up space.

This will guide you through safely clearing those temporary files.

  1. Open the Start menu and select Settings.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Settings
  2. Select System.
    System Settings
  3. Select Storage on the left, then select Temporary files on the right.
    System Settings with Storage and Temporary files highlighted.
  4. Place a checkmark next to each item, then select Remove files.
    Temporary files settings with each item checked and remove files highlighted.

3 Uninstall an App

You may need to remove an app because you need the space or simply don't need it anymore. The following steps show you how to easily remove an app.

  1. Open the Start menu and select Settings.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Settings
  2. Select Apps.
    Apps Settings
  3. Select Apps & features on the left.
    Apps Settings with Apps and features highlighted.
  4. Select an app you want to uninstall, then select Uninstall.
    Apps and features with app and Uninstall highlighted.
    Carefully read any prompts in case there are special instructions. Proceed until the application is removed.
    Some applications may require that you reboot.

4 Restart Your PC

Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.

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Diagnosing performance issues on Windows 10 can be difficult. This guide will take you, step by step, through Microsoft-recommended checks and fixes to help make sure your computer is performing as best it can.

  1. Open the Start menu and select Settings.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Settings
  2. Select Update and Security.
    Updates and Security Settings
  3. Select Windows Update on the left, then select Check for updates.
    Update and Security with Windows Update and Check for updates highlighted.
  4. Once the system has finished checking for updates, it will automatically download and install the latest applicable updates.
  5. The system also may prompt you to restart, if it does, please do so at your earliest convenience, otherwise the update process will not complete.

    If you system was already recently updated, chances are that no further updates are available and your Update status will indicate: Your device is up to date.

Windows needs about 2 GB free space, at minimum, to function. In order to properly update and perform other functions, around 5 GB free space is recommended.

A simple way to help free up space is to remove temporary files; files that were useful during an update or other working of the computer, but now simply take up space.

This will guide you through safely clearing those temporary files.

  1. Open the Start menu and select Settings.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Settings
  2. Select System.
    System Settings
  3. Select Storage on the left, then select Temporary files on the right.
    System Settings with Storage and Temporary files highlighted.
  4. Place a checkmark next to each item, then select Remove files.
    Temporary files settings with each item checked and remove files highlighted.

You may need to remove an app because you need the space or simply don't need it anymore. The following steps show you how to easily remove an app.

  1. Open the Start menu and select Settings.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Settings
  2. Select Apps.
    Apps Settings
  3. Select Apps & features on the left.
    Apps Settings with Apps and features highlighted.
  4. Select an app you want to uninstall, then select Uninstall.
    Apps and features with app and Uninstall highlighted.
    Carefully read any prompts in case there are special instructions. Proceed until the application is removed.
    Some applications may require that you reboot.
Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.

Your computer's performance can suffer if it is facing limitations caused by system memory (or RAM). Checking how much memory your computer has physically installed, and how much of that memory your system is using will help diagnose a potential memory issue that is affecting your system's performance.

  • In general, Windows 10 requires 2 GB of memory to work, but performance and stability will be limited. Windows 10 runs better with 4 GB. If you use a lot of programs at the same time, or very large programs (such as games), you may require more memory, such as 6 GB or 8 GB or more.
  • You can choose to use fewer programs, or add more memory to your computer if you find yourself regularly using up all available memory.
  1. Press the CTRL + ALT + DEL keys on your keyboard at the same time.
    PC Desktop Keyboard with Ctrl-Alt-Del highlighted.
  2. Select Task Manager.
    GINA screen with Task Manager highlighted.
  3. Select More Details at the bottom.
    Task Manager with More Details highlighted.
  4. Select the Performance tab at the top, then select Memory on the left.
    Task Manager with Performance and Memory highlighted.
  5. Look at the amount of memory you have on your computer, and how much is in use.
    Task Manager Memory with Total Memory and Memory In Use highlighted.
    Total Memory
    In the top-right corner, you'll see how much memory is physically installed in your computer.
    Memory In Use
    In the list at the bottom, you'll see how much is in use by Windows, and the programs you have open.
    In general, you want 1GB to 2GB available while you have most of your regular programs open.
You can check this information when you have your normal programs open. Open a few programs you usually use, and return to this window. See if you're using more memory than you have; this indicates Windows is using some of your hard drive space as memory, which is very slow.
This is a physical part of your computer, not something you can download or modify through software. If you want to add more memory to your computer, contact the company you purchased your computer from, or a local technical support service.

Virtual Memory or Your Paging File

The paging file is a hidden file on your computer's hard drive that Windows 10 uses as memory, and acts as an overflow of the system memory that holds the data needed for applications currently running on your computer. Increasing the size of your paging file can help with speed issues.
  1. In the search bar, type "Control Panel" and select it.
    Windows 10 Search with control panel selected
  2. Select System and Security.
    System and security selection
  3. Select System.
    The system panel
  4. Select Advanced System Settings.
    Advanced system settings link
  5. Under the Advanced panel select Settings within Performance.
    Advanced panel showing performance settings
  6. Select the Advanced tab and under Virtual Memory select Change.
    Performance options
  7. To set your own Paging File size, clear the automatically manage paging file size for all drives selection.
    Automatically managed page file
  8. Select Custom Size to set your own Virtual Memory limits. Click Set to finalize your sizes.
    Setting your paging file
  9. The minimum size of the Page file can be up to 1.5 times the amount of physical memory (RAM) you have installed. The maximum size can be 4 times the amount of the physical memory. For example, if your computer has 1GB of RAM, the minimum Page file size can be 1.5GB, and the maximum size of the file can be 4GB.

Turning the system off while System Restore is running can cause corruption. If your device is battery-operated, connect it to a power outlet first as System Restore may take time and should not be interrupted.

System restore will remove any programs installed and settings made after the selected date.

  1. Select the Start Menu, and type in rstrui. Select rstrui from the list.
    Start menu search for rstrui with Start menu, search field, and search result highlighted.
  2. System Restore will open. Select Next.
    System Restore welcome screen with Next highlighted.
  3. Select a date before the issue started, you may see more than 1 restore point. Select Next afterwards.
    System restore with restore date and Next highlighted.
  4. Confirm your restore point by selecting Finish.
    Confirm restore to restore point with Finish highlighted.
  5. A message warning you that once started, the system restore can't be stopped or undone. Select Yes to proceed.
    Confirm system restore with Yes highlighted.
  6. Your system will take a few moments to ready the system restore.
    Readying system restore.
  7. Your screen will turn blue, and the system restore will begin.
    System Restore in progress

    It can take a long time, over an hour in some cases, for System Restore to complete.

    Do not turn off or power down your computer during a System Restore. If you are using a laptop, make sure it is plugged into power so the battery does not run out during this process.

  8. Your computer will reboot on its own when complete.
  9. After returning to your Desktop, a message letting you the System Restore was successful is displayed. Select Close.
    System Restore complete with Close highlighted.

Disabling Start Ups can be a daunting process. You need to know what these items do before you take that dive into your Task Manager and start clicking things off. But if you do know what the items do and that you don't need them, disabling them can help boost performance or may even fix some issues.

  1. Press the CTRL + ALT + DEL keys on your keyboard at the same time.
    PC Desktop Keyboard with Ctrl-Alt-Del highlighted.
  2. Select Task Manager.
    GINA screen with Task Manager highlighted.
  3. Select More Details at the bottom.
    Task Manager with More Details highlighted.
  4. Select the Startup tab at the top.
    Task Manager with Startup tab highlighted.
  5. Look carefully through this list. If you see an item you do not want to startup whenever you turn on your computer, highlight it, and choose Disable at the bottom.
    Task Manager Startup with application and Disable button highlighted.
Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.

Make sure you are connected to the Internet before beginning these steps.

  1. Choose the Start menu, and type PowerShell into the search.
    start menu with PowerShell search
  2. Using your right mouse button, right click on PowerShell in the list above. A special menu will open. Choose Run as Administrator.
    Right click menu for PowerShell with Run as Administrator highlighted
  3. Windows will ask if PowerShell may make changes, click Yes.
    User account control prompt with yes highlighted
  4. At the prompt, enter the following command, then press enter on your keyboard:
    dism.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
    PowerShell with dsim command entered
  5. Windows will automatically go through every system file, make sure they are valid, and replace any corrupted files.
    dsim running in PowerShell
  1. Select the Start menu, search for Performance. Then, select Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows from the menu.
    start menu with search for performance and adjust performance choice highlighted
  2. Select Adjust for best performance at the top, then click OK at the bottom.
    Performance options with adjust for best performance highlighted
Before you restart or shut down your PC, make sure to save all necessary work to prevent data loss.
  1. Select the Start menu, then select Power.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
    Windows 10 Power Button
  2. Select Restart.
    Windows 10 Power menu with Restart highlighted.
Performing a Windows 10 Reset keeps your personal files, settings, and apps that came installed on your machine intact. For portable devices: Before proceeding with a Reset, make sure the device is connected to a power outlet to avoid power loss during the reset process.
You will lose any and all customized settings made, as well as any extra programs you've installed since you first got your computer.
  1. Select the Start menu.
    Windows 10 Start Menu
  2. Select the Settings button on the left side of the start menu.
    Windows 10 Settings
  3. Select Update and Security.
    Windows Settings with Update and Security highlighted.
  4. Select Recovery.
    Update and Security Settings menu with Recovery highlighted.
  5. On the left, under Reset this PC, select Get started.
    Update and Security settings Recovery options Reset this PC section with Get started button highlighted.
  6. Select Keep my files.
    Reset this PC with Keep my files highlighted.
  7. Take note of any apps that will need to be reinstalled, then select Next.
    Reset this PC apps list with Next highlighted.
  8. At this point, the system is ready to be reset. This process may take quite a while, and the system will automatically restart when needed. Select Reset when you're ready to continue.
    Confirm reset with Reset highlighted.
  9. Windows 10 will start the reset process and may reboot several times while running. Follow any on-screen instructions that may require your attention.
    Windows Resetting PC
  10. Once the process is complete, you may use your system again.
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