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How to Speed Up Windows 10 From Boot to Shut Down

A slow PC isn’t an annoyance, it’s an affliction. The upgrade to Windows 10 has been simple for some, but for others, the upgrade has led to serious problems. Some even report the upgrade to Windows 10 has slowed down their computer.

A slow computer is also a tough problem to troubleshoot. Many websites that claim to have the “best trick” or “top tips” to speed up your computer are peddling registry tweaks or cleaners that have no real effect. Instead, use these tried-and-true methods to instantly speed up your Windows 10 PC.

1. Windows Boot

No one should suffer from a slow startup. Now, you don’t have to. Windows 10 has a Fast Startup feature, which reduces the Windows boot time. It functions similarly as Hibernation. In Hibernation mode, Windows saves the state of your computer, open programs and all, to the hiberfil file.

Then, it activates that state again when you power on. Fast Startup works by preloading your Windows kernel and installed drivers before your computer turns off. Powering on your PC normally reloads your Windows kernel, taking a long time to start your computer.

Here is how to enable the feature:

  1. To activate Fast Startup, you first have to enable hibernation mode. To do so, right-click the Start Menu or press Wind + X to launch the Power User Menu, select Command Prompt (Admin), and copy and paste the following line into the command prompt:
    powercfg /hibernate on
  2. Type Control Panel in Windows search and click Open.
  3. Head over to System and Security > Power Options > Choose what the power buttons do.
  4. Change settings that are currently unavailable. Checkmark the box for Turn on fast startup and click Save changes. Fast Startup should now be activated on your computer.

Warning: When Fast Startup is enabled on your PC, your computer will not shut down as it normally does. This may lead to update issues.

If you want to update your PC, or need to shut down your PC entirely, turn off Fast Startup, manually shut down the computer via the Start or Power User Menu (Shut down or sign out > Shut down), or perform a common restart. Restart is unaffected by the Fast Startup feature.

2. Boot Performance

Configuring which programs start up with your computer is a vital step in speeding up your PC. You can configure boot in many ways. One is through your Windows 10 Task Manager.

Here is what you need to do:

  1. Right-click on your Taskbar and select Task Manager. You can also reach Task Manager using the keyboard command CTRL + SHIFT + ESC.
  2. Head to the Startup section and check to see which programs you’d like to activate or deactivate.
  3. Right-click on the program and choose Disable.

The rule of thumb with startup programs is simple. If the program isn’t used every day, disable it. If the program is not for a hardware component like a keyboard or printer, disable it.

Third-party software like CCleaner also features a startup configuration option. Open CCleaner and head to Tools > Startup. This feature will also allow you to enable or disable various startup programs.

Most users stop their startup configuration at these two programs. Some tools, however, reveal additional startup programs. Microsoft’s Autoruns program — part of their official Sysinternals toolkit — does just this. Autoruns’ Logon tab showed double the startup programs as CCleaner’s startup feature. To disable a startup program in Autoruns, uncheck it. It’s that simple, and controlling your startup programs will undoubtedly speed up your computer.

To finish optimizing your startup, make sure you disable the Background Applications present on Windows 10. You can access these settings in your Privacy window. Press Windows key + I to launch the Settings app and head to Privacy > Background apps (at the very bottom).

Turn all of these applications off, except for your Settings.

3. Optimize CPU Usage

Certain programs love to hog your CPU power. These programs slow down others or may prevent them from working altogether. It’s difficult to troubleshoot every single program that may hinder processor usage. A few, however, are readily avoidable.

Certain unnecessary also system processes hinder CPU performance. One such process is OneDrive. OneDrive syncs in your background, which is an issue when you’re not a OneDrive user.

Here is how you can disable it:

  1. First, open your Local Group Policy Editor.
  2. Head to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > All Settings > Prevent the Usage of OneDrive for file storage > Enable.

This small tweak offers a surprising performance boost for some users.

4. Optimize RAM Usage

RAM is a large factor in computer speed. Unfortunately, certain system processes hog RAM speeds and increase the amount of time it takes to open files. Such processes, like your default Windows 10 appearance settings, may have been dragging you down since installation.

You can optimize your RAM usage by lowering the visual quality of Windows. Follow the steps below to proceed:

  1. Access Control Panel and head over to System and Security > System > Advanced system settings > Advanced > Performance Settings > Visual Effects.
  2. Click on Adjust for best performance.
  3. Switch to the Advanced tab.
  4. Under Adjust for best performance of select Programs.
  5. After that, click Change… under Virtual memory.
  6. In the Virtual Memory window, uncheck Automatically manage paging file size for all drivers.
  7. Select Custom size and enter the Recommended number in the Initial and Maximum size entries.
  8. Click OK and your programs should open and run much faster.

5. Explore Files Faster

For the average user, the default Windows File Explorer works fine. For the power user, the Windows 10 File Explorer simply doesn’t cut it. Even more so with work that requires modifying multiple file types in multiple folders.

You can use a custom file explorer to speed up the amount of time it takes to explore and manage your files. Our personal favorite is Clover — a Chrome-like file explorer that allows you to open folders in tabs, rather than using multiple windows, or middle-click a folder to open it in a new tab. This tip won’t turn your computer into a speed demon, but I don’t know how I managed files without it.

6. Delete Bloatware

Congratulations, your new Windows 10 operating system is ready to go. Wait, what’s this?

Unfortunately, Windows 10 is not free of bloatware. The issue with these types of programs isn’t just that they take up drive space. They also update on a regular basis. Some may run in the background, hindering your computer’s performance.

You can use the default uninstall a program on Windows 10 to remove these programs. To open the default uninstall program, Windows key + X > Control Panel > Programs > Uninstall a program. If you see a toolbar or widget program, uninstall it immediately. If you don’t know what a program does, research it online to confirm or rule out its necessity.

If you are looking for advanced functionality, there are several uninstallers for Windows to remove stubborn programs that can do the job properly.

Don’t downplay the importance of uninstalling bloatware because those programs are a potential source of malware.

7. Enable a Faster Shut Down

There’s no end to speeding up Windows 10, including shutdown and hibernate speeds. Some PCs take a while to shut down because the running processes close slowly. To fix this issue, create a shortcut to quickly shut down your computer. These shortcuts not only allow for quick access to the shutdown function, but hibernate, restart, and advanced startup as well.

If your computer is taking too long to shut down, right-click on your desktop and select New > Shortcut. Choose an action from the list below, copy and paste the respective command (excluding the hyphen) in the following prompt, and name the shortcut after its corresponding action.

Shutdown - %windir%System32shutdown.exe /s /t 0

Hibernate - %windir%System32shutdown.exe -h

Restart - Shutdown -r -t 00

Advanced Startup - %windir%system32shutdown.exe /r /o /f /t 00

Would you like to access these commands even faster? Create keyboard commands to activate these programs. Right-click your file, select Properties, and place your cursor in the Shortcut key field. After clicking the entry, tap a key on your keyboard and Windows will create a CTRL + ALT + [Letter] command.

We’ve chosen CTRL + ALT + H to activate the Hibernate feature, but you can use whatever key you’d like. You can also hide these programs so they don’t clutter your desktop: Right-click on Desktop, choose View, and uncheck Show desktop icons.

8. Consider an SSD / SSHD

No tweak you find on the internet will match the speed gained by switching from a hard disk drive (HDD) to a solid-state drive (SSD), period. SSDs take full advantage of a faster type of memory called flash memory, similar to random access memory (RAM).

Unfortunately, SSDs cost three times more on average — per gigabyte of storage — than HDDs. If the high price is an issue, and you’d only like to run a couple of gigabytes on your lightning-fast SSD, solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs) allow for a large amount of HDD space and a smaller amount of SSD space in a single package.

Transferring your files or an entire Windows installation from an HDD to an SSD is a simple process as well. If you doubt it would make a difference, let me tell you — as a recent convert from HDD to SSD, I haven’t had a startup that took longer than a couple of seconds in months.

Don’t Settle for a Slow Windows 10 Experience

You shouldn’t have to settle for a slow Windows 10 experience, ever. Although there are certain habits you can pick up which ensure your computer is running optimally, implement the tips above for a drastic, one-time performance boost.