Looking for a slow laptop fix? Start by configuring Windows for better performance before considering a hardware upgrade. While putting in an SSD or adding more system memory can drastically improve the feel of your computer, so can configuring the operating system.
Improving laptop speed without spending a cent seems like a logical place to start, right?
Let’s try a few options before moving on to the appropriate hardware upgrades.
Changing power settings to High Performance in Windows 7-10
Consider this when doing heavier production work like video editing on a laptop, working with large spreadsheets, or 3D graphics rendering.
Windows has several power management options for conserving battery life. Balanced, the default option, works well for most purposes. However, in CPU- and GPU-intensive tasks, the default settings may leave your system underpowered.
Try changing from Balanced to High Performance to see how your system performs full-grunt at all times. If you’re a gamer, chances are you’ve done this before. Some have reported impressive performance increase when changing to High Performance mode.
Control Panel → System and Security → Power Options
One thing, though, is have your laptop charger ready. This setting drains battery like a sieve.
Clean up your startup programs
A number of programs automatically initialize during the boot sequence of your computer. In general these are benign, often nothing more than backend components for software you probably use all the time—GPU drivers, security software, and such.
However, sometimes company laptops—especially in untrained users’ hands and left unchecked—the number of not-so-useful programs in the startup queue tends to accumulate. This slows the boot time of your computer.
Deactivate, deactivate, deactivate!
I personally only have a few things start up with mine (Google Drive and Dropbox mainly), however some people prefer other programs to start with the computer. It’s a case-by-case issue, but less is more in terms of laptop boot time.
- Windows 10: Right-click taskbar → Task Manager → Startup Programs
- Windows 7: Start button → type ‘msconfig → Startup
Troubleshoot Hardware Settings in Windows
The Windows 10 troubleshooter goes through an entire suite of hardware settings to make sure you are optimized for performance. That’s a great feature in Windows 7 and later—Microsoft gives you the tools right in the operating system. In the days of XP this was not true; you had to download a bunch of third-party software which can create its own set of problems. In 2016 the OS just does that for you, as it should.
Control Panel → type ‘Trouble’ in search → Troubleshooting → System and Security → Performance
That should give you an idea of where to start with your slow laptop fix—let me know in the comments any other Windows tools you have found useful for boosting performance.
About the author
Marko Uksanovic is a technician, specializing in Windows, OSX, networking, and mobile device configuration at PC-Choice Wynnum, Queensland, Australia. He has experience with hundreds of custom builds and server setups. He is currently undertaking postgraduate studies at the Queensland University of Technology.